A Closer Walk

Jan 31, 2023 | The Sandpiper

I am a backyard birder. When I joined Audubon, I envisioned that I would soon be running through bushes all over the place, my little safari hat in place, identifying birds and their calls. I thought that ornithology would become as second nature as horticulture is to me.

Not so. I am still a backyard birder. And that’s okay. Probably, most of us are.

So, why get more involved? Why challenge yourself to go on a bird walk? You may feel foolish and out of place? Why volunteer to fill a position in the organization? Too tired at the end of the day. As of my last article, which was about as desperate a plea as ever there was one, I have been asking myself all the same questions. After all, I love having my cup of coffee outside and just enjoying my backyard birds. I’m good.

And then – early on a Sunday morning I got an email from John Gluth, letting me know that our media people posted a picture of another Robert Moses Park for our walk that Tuesday. I didn’t even know that there was another Robert Moses Park. But John did – and he noticed – and took the time to let me know. It really brightened my spirits as I thought how very fortunate I am to have been introduced to some really terrific individuals who I would not have met otherwise. The John Gluths, Ken Thompsons, Mike Coopers, Merrymans, Wilsons of the birding world – to name only a few people who have enriched my life because I showed up. The Shai and Pats.

One freezing Saturday a few years ago, we were being wind blown into popsicles at Jones Beach West End, in search of the Holy Grail – the Snowy Owl. Then someone called “Here comes the Gluthinator.” Striding down the path came John Gluth, scope on his shoulder, seemingly unaffected by the wind and weather. The whole atmosphere turned to joking and informational exchanges. I knew that if I hung close, I was going to see and learn what I wouldn’t have on my own. Where would we be without our trip leaders and coordinators?


Now, you may think this article is about my admiration for John (maybe a little heartthrob there), but it is really a reminder that we are made to be relational people. There is great benefit to community. We grow and our community, Island, world does also, when we decide to show up. And we can accomplish! When you go on a bird walk, you meet the nicest people and learn the coolest things.

At general meetings, you have the opportunity to fellowship with other interesting people and meet first class presenters. Volunteering gives that much more of a personal experience of being up close and personal. Involvement puts you at the heart of a community. It’s worth it.

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