MARQUETTE- When it comes to identifying and taking great photographs of birds, Alec Olivier's skills are beyond those of most kids his age.
Olivier, 13, has been birding since he was just 4 years old because of his father and grandfather. Alec goes to Whitefish Point every year, said his dad Wayne Olivier.
"He's always liked birds and he's always liked taking pictures," he said. "He's really taken off in the past two years."
One of Alec Olivier's photographs of a Killdeer chick. (Photo courtesy of Alec Olivier)
One of Olivier's photographs of a Great Horned Owl. (Photo courtesy of Alec Olivier)
Olivier, 13, takes a photo of a bird that he spotted off of Granite Avenue near the Dead River in Marquette on March 9. (Journal photo by Adelle Whitefoot)
Alec said he likes Whitefish Point because they catch owls there at the Whitefish Point Bird Observatory, which allows him to see them up close. His favorite bird that he's seen is the great horned owl, Alec said.
"They can pretty much kill anything," he said. "I really wish to see the great gray owl because they are really hard to find and are the biggest owl."
Alec said another bird on his list that he really wants to check off is the irvoy seagull, which lives in the Arctic.
"But in 1995 there was on spotted here and it would be awesome to see one," he said.
Both Wayne Olivier and Alec's mother Julie Olivier said they think it's great that Alec is so passionate about birding.
"It's wonderful to see any of your kids have a passion about something," Wayne Olivier said. "He's so helpful with other birders and what he's trying to do with his website, we're just really proud of him and we've found that the birder community is very sharing and helpful and kind and just has a lot of great lessons for kids."
Other than taking photographs of the birds he finds, Alec said he loves the challenge of finding and identifying the birds. Shorebirds are the most difficult to identify because they look a lot a like, he said.
"Usually a lot of times I try to get pictures of the birds and compare them to other pictures in my field guides," Alec said. "If I still can't identify them I'll send the pictures to people to get help."
Alec's favorite places to go birding are the Lower Harbor and the mouth of the Dead River because there is a lot of variety in those places. He goes out two to three times a week right now, but when it gets warmer he's out birding almost every day.
"Right now he literally spends all his time in his bedroom with multiple field guides out across the floor, across his desk and across his bed and he's down there pouring over the books for hours a day," Julie Olivier said. "Once the weather is more favorable, right after school he's on his phone to find out where they're seeing what and he's just gone, out birding."
Alec uses a Canon Rebel T5i with a 55-200 mm lens to take his photographs and uses Crossley ID Guide books to help him identify the birds. According to Julie Olivier, Alec funded the purchase of his own camera.
"He's collected coins since he was little and he had a huge coin collection," she said. "He cashed every single ounce of his life collection in to fund the purchase of this camera."
According to Alec, he's never regretted that decision. To see some of Alec's work or to get help identifying a bird visit his website at 21stcenturybirder.com.
"To have a kid passionate about anything, to just find his niche and it to be such a positive beneficial niche is just fantastic," Julie Olivier said.
Adelle Whitefoot can be reached at 906-228-2500, ext. 243. Her email address is firstname.lastname@example.org.