Great-blue Heron takes flight at sunrise at Bombay Hook. Photography by Rich Wood.

It All Adds Up – Interview with Birding Experts Ian Stewart and Charles Shattuck

Small Choices Make a Big Impact

With the alarming rate of climate change, there are many small actions individuals can take to make a difference. Since 1964, DelNature has been committed to protecting and preserving the environment. Together, our community makes a significant impact on the health of our lands, water, wildlife and food and ultimately humankind.

DelNature had an interview with birding experts and DelNature members, Charles Shattuck, owner of Wild Birds Unlimited in Hockessin, and Ian Stewart, our staff ornithologist, to learn what motivates them in their work, and simple ways we can all make a difference.

Ian Stewart, Ornithologist, Bird Banding at Bucktoe Ian Stewart, Ornithologist, Bird Banding at Bucktoe. Interview with Birding Experts.
Charles Shattuck, Owner of Wild Birds Unlimited in Hockessin Charles Shattuck, Owner of Wild Birds Unlimited in Hockessin. Interview with Birding Experts.

What sparked your interest in the environment?

Charles Shattuck: Growing up in an urban environment, any small patch of woods offered a place of adventure and insight. It was a world away from adults full of unknown plants and wildlife.

I’m much older now but still listen for bird songs, look at the stars, and search for salamanders under leaves.

Why do you feel passionate about the environment?

Ian Stewart: I’ve always loved nature, especially birds. Spending time outdoors is the perfect antidote for modern life stress.
I’m privileged to work for an organization that conserves and advocates for our natural habitats and educates young and old alike. For a small state, Delaware has a remarkably rich diversity of habitat

What advice can you give to help preserve and protect the environment?

Shattuck: We are stewards for our lifetimes. Encourage people to remove invasive plants, use native plants in your garden, turn off lights, leave the leaves, stop manicuring landscapes, and pick up litter. The simple act of taking a piece of trash off the road makes a big difference.

Stewart: Plant native plants. One native plant—a tree, shrub, or plant by your front door—will attract wildlife. Seeing bees, birds and butterflies motivates to plant even more.

What is your proudest achievement as a DelNature staff member?

Stewart: Writing the bird chapter in the handbook for the Delaware Master Naturalist program offered in partnership with the University of Delaware Cooperative Extension. I am also proud of being part of a great team. All of us at Delaware Nature Society care a lot about preserving the natural world and making it a better place for everyone.

What encourages you about our environment’s future?

Shattuck: The past two years caused many people to seek refuge from the maddening world. I see more people taking to the trails, watching birds, creating natural sanctuaries in their yards, and enjoying our local natural treasures—places like Ashland Nature Center, Mt. Cuba, and Delaware State Parks.

Stewart: Seeing hundreds of people at our Native Plant Sales and tree plantings is proof there is invested interest in restoring our native food webs. Seeing hundreds of excited children enjoying our summer camps is wonderful. Children are the future. It’s reassuring to see generations of people interested in the natural world.

What business would you encourage the DelNature community to support?

Shattuck: Eco-Plastic Products of Delaware. For years I lamented that our main product, bird seed, is packaged in plastic. We were helping birds at the cost of more plastic. When I heard about Eco-Plastic Products of Delaware, a non-profit that converts discarded plastic into useful products, I was excited to offer my customers the ability to recycle our seed bags.

Last year we donated 1,300 pounds of plastic from our store which were recycled into park benches, picnic tables, and garden boxes. I even started making bird feeders out of the recycled boards. At first, we called the program Bags to Benches, now our customers know it as Bags to Bird Feeders.

Nurture Nature

Help promote a healthy, sustainable environment by making sensible yet small choices. Collectively, they can have a lasting, positive impact for our planet.

Volunteer for Community Clean Ups & Tree Plantings

Volunteer with us!

Garden for Wildlife

Support wildlife, pollinators and birds at home by planting natives. Native plants are the foundation of local food webs, giving wildlife what they need to survive.

Take it one step further and certify your yard to be a Certified Wildlife Habitat with five criteria necessary for wildlife: food, water, cover, places for wildlife to raise young, and wildlife-friendly landscaping practices.

Learn more and get certified!

Reduce, Reuse, Recycle

Follow the 3 R’s to conserve our natural resources.

Plant & Care For a Tree

Trees provide food and oxygen as well as clean the air.

Get Outside

Get outside and enjoy nature for your own mental and physical health. Hike a trail and scoop the poop. Pet waste contaminates our waterways.

Be a Clean Stream Champion

Join through New Castle County’s GreeNCC program. Cease the grease! Educate others on the importance of our natural resources and choices they can make to improve our environment.