The annual North American Migration Count brought a group of youth to Quivira National Widlife refuge from Reno County.

How many youth today would arise well before dawn and travel 30 miles to spend most of the day identifying and tallying bird species?

At least five young men from the Partridge and Abbyville area did as much when they headed for Quivira National Wildlife Refuge to take part in the annual North American Migration Count.

I spent about three and a half hours with the Miller cousins/brothers: Bryant, 14, Andrew, 12, Joseph, 14, and Anthony, 14; their friend Ben Garrett;  a couple of fathers, Lowell Miller and Joel Garrett; and Barry Jones, who works at the refuge.

The experience of interacting with and observing these young men gives me great hope for the future. While many youth today seem almost inseparable from their cell phones and other personal electronic devices, these five spend ample time outdoors and been birding for the past five years in Kansas and other states. They have definitely not lost touch with nature and our interconnectedness with God’s creation.

These young men readily identified birds in flight, on the ground, and hidden in the trees and brush. I was impressed with their birding knowledge and skills.

I left the refuge around 12:15 p.m., by which time the group had already six hours sighting 121 species. After lunch, the Millers and Garretts continued the count with Barry Jones, driving north to the Big Salt Marsh.

The North American Migration Count is a great way to spend all, or part, of a day. You don’t even have to travel to Quivira to participate. You can head anywhere in Pratt County and start counting. For more information about this annual event, visit .