Superheroes – An ABA Young Birder Essay

By ABA Young Birder, Yishai Blum

Magnolia Warbler

We are superheroes. That’s right—superheroes.

We have superpowers. When we use them, people around us are amazed. They ask us, “How can you do that?!” Sometimes people don’t believe us. They say, “You’re making it up!” or “You’re faking it!” But we never are.

Our superpowers advance our abilities more than most people. We see every movement, hear every sound, and know what everything is. We are omnipresent and omniscient. Our superpowers help us find things that are hidden, which most people would ignore or overlook. Our superpowers help us understand what is going on around us when most people can only guess. Our superpowers even help us speak to and understand animals.

Like any good superhero, we have gadgets that help us focus our superpowers. We have one that helps us see everything far away. We have one that helps us record information about everything. We even have one that helps us freeze time and space just so that we can look at everything again whenever we want.

Sometimes people ask us, “How did you become a superhero?! How did you get your superpowers?!” When I’m asked, I never know what to tell them. 

“You see, I can’t explain it. It just happened to me,” I say. “One day, I was walking around in the wilderness, minding my own business, doing nothing in particular. Then suddenly, something flew in front of my face. Before I could realize what had happened, I started to feel different. I felt more aware; my senses heightened. I felt powerful, energetic, and renewed. It was like something had sparked within me,” I tell them. 

“Ever since that fateful day, I have used my superpowers for good. Slowly, I am helping save the world.”

What kind of superheroes are we? We are birders.

Yishai Blum is a 17-year-old birder and science enthusiast from Madison, Wisconsin. Named the ABA’s Young Birder of the Year 2023 (14-18 age group), he is a member of the resident chapter of the Feminist Bird Club and a voracious and familiar presence in the Dane County birding community. He enjoys volunteering at the local bird-banding station and has a great fascination for ornithology and other natural sciences. In addition to birding, Yishai is the leader of his high school’s Ornithology Club, a captain of its Environmental Club, and a leading member in West High School Science Olympiad (for which he has won national medals in Ornithology) and Mock Trial. Yishai’s superpowers were sparked twice: once when he first held a bird at a banding station (a bright male Baltimore Oriole) and again when he discovered a Magnolia Warbler in his backyard.