Becoming Birdgirl

Mya-Rose Craig has loved birds from the age of three. Her passion for these ace animals inspired her to start a blog called Birdgirl. Today, she’s a well-known environmentalist and animal activist – and an RSPCA ambassador too!

Have you always loved birds?

When I was born, my parents and older sister Ayesha were really passionate about birds, spending a lot of their time in nature. They took me out birding for the first time when I was only nine days old. By the time I was three or four years old I had fallen in love with our feathered friends. 

So what is ‘birding’, exactly? 

Birding is when you go to a good location for birds and watch them closely, to get a sense of their behaviour. It’s an active verb rather than birdwatching, which is more passive. 

The place I go birding the most is Chew Valley Lake, near my home in Somerset. Sometimes, very rare birds get blown here from far away places. Travelling to see a rare bird is called twitching. 

A Herring Gull

Any weird or wonderful bird sightings you’d like to share?

In Australia, there is a huge dinosaur-like bird called a southern cassowary. It’s about 1.8m tall and has razor sharp talons on its feet. One kick could kill you! We saw an adult male bird with his two chicks when we were walking along a footpath in the forest. That was pretty scary – cassowary dads are very protective parents. So we watched them from a distance then quietly backed away.

When did you start your Birdgirl blog?

I heard about Birdgirl, an old corny superhero, when I was eight, and thought the name would suit me! I chose it for my blog when I was 11.

I planned to use the blog to keep track of birds I had seen, I wasn’t expecting anyone to read it. Then I appeared in a TV programme with my parents called Twitchers: A Very British Obsession. Before I knew it, I had one million views.

And what made you become an environmental activist?

Once my blog became popular, I wondered if I could make a difference by writing about the planet I love. In October 2014, there was an oil spill in the Bangladeshi Sundarbans, the largest mangrove forest in the world. I saw conservationists post about it on social media but nothing appeared in the UK news. 

I asked people to donate to Water Defense’s appeal – a charity that was planning to clean up the oil. Within two days, we’d raised the $35,000 needed for the clean up. 

Any advice for animal lovers who want to help animals in need?

We can’t change the world overnight, but we can make a big difference if we all play a small part. Speaking up for wildlife and sharing your knowledge of different species can help more people realise how amazing animals are.