The birding world is blessed to have people with a variety of skills and interests, and a willingness to share them. Kerry Wilcox is a perfect example of this: he came to Madison Audubon with the idea to run a "Birding by Ear" field trip that was particularly geared for folks with visual impairments. His idea blossomed into a wonderful class that exceeded all of our expectations!
"I'd recently moved back to Wisconsin after a couple decades in California where I worked for the National Audubon Society as a biologist and was looking to get involved with the local Audubon chapter," said Kerry. "I'd also had a long time interest in birding by ear--in particular with people who had different levels of sightedness." So Kerry pitched that we partner with a local non-profit, the Wisconsin Council of the Blind and Visually Impaired, to host a meaningful, enriching class that opens up the birding world to those who might otherwise be unable to fully experience it.
The class was part of our new Audubon Naturalists Series, and had both an indoor and outdoor component, and the 20 participants learned a variety of songs, calls, and other identification cues -- as well as the importance of knowing when and where you are to help hone in on which potential species you can hear. Kerry took the lead on creating all class materials and pulling together a variety of resources for participants, with support from Madison Audubon and great partners at the Council.
We're so grateful to Kerry for being such a champion for birders of all varieties and an advocate for increasing accessibility to birding. We look forward to working with Kerry and the Council for another Birding by Ear class! To learn how you can volunteer with Madison Audubon, visit our volunteer page.
Written by Brenna Marsicek, Director of Communications