Expanding Our Community with Bird Song Walks!

by Camelia Zollars, Public Programs & Partnerships Specialist; and Emily Pinkowitz, Director of Education

For close to 40 years, Bird Song Walks have invited Portland metro area residents to celebrate and track spring migration together. At a host of different locations throughout the city, a dedicated group of volunteers, staff, and neighborhood residents gather weekly to note the comings and goings of species through the chorus of songs that fill the early morning air.

Free to all, Bird Song Walks were designed to expand access and build community by bringing birding to neighborhood green spaces where Portlanders live and play. Week after week, local residents and expeditious birders alike fold these gatherings into the rhythm of their spring mornings. Since relaunching these walks post-pandemic, each year we’ve made changes to make these programs more engaging, approachable, and accessible to all. This year, we’ll be expanding these efforts with some exciting additions. Read on for highlights.

Group of people on pathway in forest with dusk sunlight filtering through the trees
Photo by Tara Lemezis.

Beginner Weekends

The songs of spring always awaken a cohort of new birders and “bird curious” folks. Yet it can be challenging to know where to start, and intimidating to make sense of the myriad of species that pass through our city. To break down these barriers, this year we’re launching a new series of Sunday walks for Beginners at Whitaker Ponds! Led by Rae Synder, these low-key, meditative walks will practice listening, looking, and learning in a supportive community. Whitaker is a neighborhood gem easily accessible by public transit with wide, flat paths that can be traversed in less than an hour. Binoculars will be provided!

Conservation Connections along Wilkes Creek

Assistant Director of Urban Conservation Micah Meskel will join Brodie Cass Talbott and others from our Education team to lead a new series of walks around Wilkes City Park every Tuesday. This addition is part of Bird Alliance of Oregon’s Greening Wilkes initiative. In collaboration with Friends of Trees, Verde, Columbia Slough Watershed Council, and Portland Parks and Recreation, we’re working with the community surrounding the Wilkes Creek Headwaters in outer East Portland to restore and enhance the area’s greenspaces and engage the community in activities to increase climate resilience. For the last two years, we’ve hosted a popular Earth Day festival at this site, and it’s our hope that the addition of Bird Song Walks will deepen the community’s growing connection to this evolving green space.

More to come…

These highlights are just a sampling of the Bird Song Walk season ahead. We’re looking forward to bringing back the accessible Big Sit to engage people with disabilities; launching new walks especially for people who identify as Black, Indigenous and people of color; and returning walks at long-time favorite locations including Mt. Tabor, Oaks Bottom, and others. With our new name, we’ve got a lot to celebrate this spring, and we hope you’ll come out and join us at whatever Bird Song Walk is right for you!

Bird Song Walks