To encourage young people interested in wildlife and conservation, the American Birding Association is sponsoring the Young Birder of the Year Competition, with lots of prizes, beginning at the end of September. In this year-long contest, kids 10 to 18 years old will be asked to write two essays, and keep a field notebook of writings and sketches that describe the birds they encounter. "Our hope is to develop good recording skills at an early age," says the group's Paul Green. "Once they learn these skills, they'll use them for the rest of their lives." For information, contact Green at American Birding Association, P.O. Box 6599, Colorado Springs, CO 80934, 719/578-9703, or visit the Web site at www.americanbirding.org.