IPad for the birds: naturalist
87-year-old uses new technology to share bird sightings immediately
Mary Majka, one of New Brunswick's leading naturalists and birdwatchers, was one of the first people in the world slated to receive an iPad. Yet the 87-year-old had never before owned a computer, or even typed a message.
The former TV host and co-founder of the New Brunswick Federation of Naturalists now uses the Apple tablet computer to provide immediate messages about her birdwatching at her home in Mary's Point, N.B.
The area in the southeastern corner of the province is known for the arrival of more than two million shorebirds annually — their only resting spot on a 4,000-kilometre journey south.
Majka's son works for Apple CEO Steve Jobs, so she was on the list to receive an iPad before it even had a name. She originally thought she wouldn't use it.
"But once having it, it almost forces you to do something," she said. "I just couldn't keep it on my lap and admire it."
David Christie, another founder of the naturalists' federation, used to do all her computer correspondence for her, but says it's no longer necessary.
"Mary's an enthusiastic person so when she sees something, like Monday morning, when the birds were flying back and forth here in large flocks right in front of the house, she got so excited," he said. "She took her iPad and immediately started to write, and plugging in addresses of people she wanted to share that with. So it's very immediate."
Majka said the iPad is now a constant companion.
"I have to say very proudly that I have learned how to type," she said. "Not only in one language, not only in English, but also in German and in Polish."