Off-the-Trail: Birdwatching With Presidential Candidate George Pataki

The GOP presidential candidate is an avid amateur birdwatcher.

October 19, 2015, 12:30 PM

— -- For George Pataki, being in nature is for the birds -- literally.

When the former governor of New York isn’t on the campaign trail running for president, he enjoys spending time on a very different kind of trail: Pataki is an amateur birdwatcher.

Pataki told ABC News more about his passion for the pastime and checked in about his campaign on his inaugural visit to Theodore Roosevelt Island in Washington, D.C.

What influence did President Roosevelt have on Pataki?

Pataki explained the personal impact of the fellow New York governor’s legacy.

“Roosevelt was my hero growing up,” he said, noting that he named his son Teddy. “I just always admired his love for the outdoors, what he did for future generations -- whether it was Yosemite or Yellowstone. ... And then I had a chance as governor to do my part.”

How does Pataki call for birds?

“At the risk of appearing to be a complete nerd, which sadly sometimes I am ... what you do to attract a bird is you make sounds, because they're curious,” said Pataki, who then went on to make a “pssst” sound. “Birds will hear that and they'll actually come to see what's attracting the sound."

Was the calling technique successful?

Not this time around. “I think I attracted a 707,” Pataki joked as a plane flew overhead. "I’ve been spending too much time on the campaign trail,” he jokingly lamented after another failed attempt.

How does Pataki’s hobby fit with his political philosophy on the environment?

Unlike most of his GOP rivals, Pataki has a progressive stance on climate change, and said it would affect decisions he'd make as president. “There’s no question that human CO2 emissions are contributing, in some way,” he said. “And to the extent it's consistent with a strong economy and a strong America, we should be taking steps to help the future generation deal with that.”

ABC's News' Tom Thornton, Kirk Reid, Jasmine Spencer, Gary Rosenberg and Barry Schlegel contributed to this report.

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