During the first week of November, Western Cuyahoga Audubon and David Lindo engaged with not only our valued Audubon chapter members, but also with youth birders and naturalists, including the children of the Boys & Girls Club of Cleveland, East Clark Middle School Bird Nerds, and Ohio Young Birders Club.
By Michelle Brosius, Western Cuyahoga Audubon Board Member, Ohio Certified Volunteer Naturalist
David Lindo has left our city in search of his next birding adventure, but his energy and inspiration lingers in the birding community of Cleveland and the surrounding areas. As I walk the corridors of the office building in which I work, I come to a space that the interior designers had decided to line with a row of armchairs facing floor to ceiling windows. It is a bright floor with the sun streaming into the space, and I am not surprised to see almost every one of those chairs occupied. We crave a connection to the outdoors, or at the very least, we use it to relax and de-stress from the pressures of whatever work we are tasked to accomplish. I pause my steps to gaze out the massive windows with my fellow colleagues and am delighted to see a flurry of birds in the distance. In that moment, we are all urban birding.
I am reminded of the excitement of the Urban Birding with David Lindo Week November 2-9, 2019 in which his visit inspired over 600 people interested in or dedicated to birding and 70 volunteers to come out with us and share in the experience. In fact, the crowds drawn in the first weekend of chilly November can only be matched by spring migration. We didn’t have a diversity of warblers to offer, nonetheless, we attracted a diversity of people. People from all walks of life, race, and gender. That is what urban birding is all about. Connecting diverse groups of people to nature in their own neighborhoods rather than asking or expecting them to make the journey to our neighborhood or a distant habitat. Traveling just isn’t feasible for many people much of the time, but connecting to nature, I would argue, is necessary for our well-being.
During the first week of November, Western Cuyahoga Audubon and David Lindo engaged with not only our valued Audubon chapter members, but also with youth birders and naturalists, including the children of the Boys & Girls Club of Cleveland, East Clark Middle School Bird Nerds, and Ohio Young Birders Club. I had the pleasure of volunteering for the event with the Boys & Girls Club of Cleveland in which we took the children to the Morgana Bluffs Nature Preserve adjacent to their facility in Slavic Village. The children were extremely excited to have an opportunity to go outdoors and explore the preserve. They were introduced to a monocular and the concept of having a tool to get a better view of wildlife. We worked with the children on how to use their monocular—to get an object in their sight first and then raise the device to their eye, and for goodness sakes, don’t look into the sun! Some of the children were interested in my binoculars, as well, and grabbed them while they were still around my neck! I was thrilled at their excitement and we even saw a few birds!
Later in the week, volunteers with a passion for urban birding and connecting people to nature met at the LGBT Community Center of Greater Cleveland to discuss how Western Cuyahoga Audubon Society can have an impact in Cleveland and the surrounding communities. The event consisted of a professionally facilitated intensive design and planning session to draft model solutions to raise public awareness of urban birds, wildlife, and forest habitat. The energy of the group was uplifting and many great ideas and thoughts were shared and explored. If you couldn’t make it to the event but still have an interest in being a part of this effort, please join us at our monthly Conservation Project Labs as the work continues. These sessions are held at Bethany Presbyterian Church in the Gordon Square Arts District.
Western Cuyahoga Audubon has now officially launched Urban Birding Cleveland. I would like to thank all of our sponsors, partners, and volunteers of the Urban Birding with David Lindo week. We are thrilled that one partner in particular, Tremont West Development Corporation, is interested in continuing dialog with us to incorporate urban birding into their neighborhood development plan! We hope people will remember the various locations in their own neighborhoods we visited during David Lindo’s visit—the Flats, the Tremont Neighborhood Walkabout, Lake County Lakefront, and more—and take the time to connect with nature right outside their homes. As David would say, “Get out there and don’t forget to look up!” Stay tuned for more!