Five screech owls sat on a large oak tree branch in the boyhood backyard of Charley Green.
When Green opened the back door of his family home and discovered them there, he showed his parents. They called The El Dorado Times, and the newspaper shot a photograph that was published in that day’s newspaper.
This is one of Green’s many childhood memories that sparked a lifelong love of wildlife and nature, with an interest in bird watching in particular. Green’s father, Lloyd, grew up on a farm, and even though Charley grew up living in town, Lloyd often brought wildlife home.
“I remember he brought a bat one time,” Charley said. “We put it in a cage, and all of our neighbor friends’ parents wouldn’t allow them to come to our house.”
He also recalled his brother bringing home a coyote pup that had been abandoned by its mother. The family named it Wiley and released it into the wild when it became old enough to take care of itself.
Today, Green spends his days fixing appliances as a co-owner of Charley's Appliance and Mattress Gallery, located on Main Street in El Dorado. When his two children were younger, he enjoyed sharing his love for wildlife with them when he was not working.
Green served as a 4-H leader for the El Dorado Boosters 4-H club for eight or nine years. During this time, he led groups of area children in learning projects about amphibians and reptiles, etymology and ornithology.
Through 4-H, Green helped a group of students tag Monarchs. The group went out to the lake where a large group of evergreen trees attracted the butterflies.
Green and other leaders taught the children the proper way to trap the butterflies in a net, move them to a tent, and attach a tag to the underside of their wings, all without hurting the insects. About 30 of the Monarchs the group tagged were found in central Mexico, about 1,300 miles from Kansas.
“That was something I was proud of,” he said.
One of Green’s greatest lifetime hobbies has been bird watching. More than 15 years ago, he learned about a non-credit, bird-watching course at Butler Community College taught by Dr. Bill Langley. He and several friends enrolled in the spring-semester class, and today Langley is still one of Green’s close friends and his bird-watching mentor.
He said many people try to identify birds simply by looking at the color of their feathers, but in actuality other factors like size and habitat are better identifiers. Green has identified more than 300 species of birds since he began bird watching. Many of these have been in Kansas, but he also has traveled to places like Alaska, the Caribbean and Texas to see different bird species.
“I’ve always got my binoculars,” he said. “If I see something and it’s different, I will try to stop and see what it is.”
Green said since Kansas is in the middle of the country, a large variety of birds pass through the area with the changing of the seasons. He carries his binoculars with him wherever he goes.
“Avid bird watchers will come to this part of the country to see specific species,” he said. “We are on a major flyway for bird migration.”
Green said the idea that each day bird watching is unpredictable keeps his interest. He enjoys appreciating the details that distinguish each bird species from another.
“Things on earth are so beautiful for man to see and enjoy,” Green said. “I think God put them there. You look at these birds with the colors they have; they are for our enjoyment.”