A Family Hiking Tradition



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Hiking. Birding. Nature Surrounds the Kies Family.

When Jon Kies and his wife moved to Encinitas from the East Coast, they began exploring San Elijo Lagoon trails. The winding pathways soon became the ideal family hiking spot as their kids grew into trail exploring. Favorites include La Orilla coming from the East side, and Annie’s Canyon Trail.

The Kies family joined Nature Collective years ago. “Early on, it seemed like a good idea to contribute to a local organization that was set up to maintain an area we visit,” reflects Jon.

Hiking spans generation to generation. Jon’s parents took their family on hikes when they were growing up in New Jersey—instilling a love for nature that endures—and exploring wetlands with conservation success stories much like San Elijo Lagoon. Today, his brothers’s families hike, where they live in the West, and East Coast.

During the pandemic quarantine, the family adjusts. Jon established a routine working from home, spending time on his computer in the backyard. That’s when he began to notice all the different birds that were active around.

Jon started keeping a bird list, using some of the bird tracking apps, with a preference for eBird, as he ventured from the yard to the lagoon for more sightings.

“I enjoy popping over for a short walk at the end of a day, just to clear my head,” says Jon. “Searching for birds gives me something to focus on and tune out all the stresses of the day.”

He adds, “I will admit this has become something of an addiction and I go for short and long walks nearly every weekend with my binoculars, doing my best to identify the birds.”

White-Tailed Kite (Elanus leucurus)—one of Jon’s favorite birds to see.
Photo by Russ Strenk 

Jon’s father is also an avid birder. His parents come to stay in Solana Beach for a month every winter. “Ostensibly to visit our family,” jokes Jon, “But I think it’s also so my dad can nurture his own birding obsession on the trails.”

Once in a while he sends his dad a picture of a bird he can’t identify. “He’s usually got a good idea,” adds Jon. “Maybe one day my bird list will match his!”

We wish the Kies family many happy hikes, and new birds to see during the Pacific Flyway migration this fall and winter.

*Photo: Jon Kies and his younger son, Ryan, at San Elijo Lagoon Ecological Reserve, October 2020

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Jon Kies and family are one of our nature heroes, as continuing Nature Collective members, and part of our supporters’ stories we share to inspire us all to connect, experience and protect nature.

Thank You September Supporters!

Will Barnes + Yvette Petters
William + Prudence Davison
Edward + Edith Drcar
Generous Old Geezers
Anita Hayworth + Dave Shaw*
Daniel + Susan Henry
Jonathan Kies
The Lauer Fund at The San Diego Foundation
Stephanie Mood
Joy Rogers
Steven + Sharon Rose
Jill + Darrell Shrader*
Jane Stro (in honor of Jack)
Colleen Veneri
Jane Wiess*

*President Circle
**Legacy Circle (Lauer, Generous Old Geezers)

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