Bird Alliance of Oregon Volunteers: Meet Them at the Corner of Dedicated and Hard Working

by Vicky Medley, Volunteer Manager

Each year, as part of National Volunteer Appreciation week, we pause to thank our volunteers and celebrate their positive impact on Bird Alliance of Oregon. Volunteers add breadth and depth to our work by putting our mission into action! Alongside staff and supporters, our volunteers contribute in ways both big and small to help us inspire all people to love and protect birds, wildlife and the natural environment upon which life depends. In 2021, our volunteer flock contributed an astounding 38,740 hours of service!

2021 began with us still in the throes of the COVID-19 pandemic and with limited numbers of volunteers serving throughout the organization. As spring approached and more vaccines were available, we were able to engage more volunteers up on campus and beyond. Our Care Center made it through “baby bird season” with a limited crew of long-time volunteers and an eager group of new folks who stepped into new roles. Our Nature Store volunteer schedule picked up, and we brought back Outings, which are free bird walks open to the public. We began to bring on new volunteers through online orientations, and we learned new ways to do our long-time and beloved events like Birdathon, the Christmas Bird Count, our Used Book Sale, Catio Tour, and Wild Arts Festival.

It is a joy to work with the volunteer community at Bird Alliance of Oregon. As the Volunteer Manager, I want to share some highlights of the year from my perspective (please also read about our 2022 Mamie Campbell winners here):

Wildlife Care Center

With volunteer support, our Wildlife Care Center provided care for over 5,000 patients and responded to over 10,000 phone calls in 2021! Throughout the year, Care Center volunteers supported the work in new ways. As it became safer to do so, we brought limited numbers of volunteers into the hospital. Meanwhile, outdoors volunteers continued to serve in a variety of ways including caring for the wildlife patients in our outdoor cages on and off site, and helping with admissions during the busiest time of the year. By the end of 2021, Care Center volunteers had contributed more than 13,000 hours of service!

2021 was also the year of “Hawkpocolypse”, the deluge of Cooper’s Hawks at the end of June. As the heat wave blanketed the area, we set an all-time record for intakes, including a stunning 110 young Cooper’s Hawks. Volunteers worked alongside staff to admit and treat the animals, and get as many back into the wild as possible.

Volunteer Cecile Velastro and Staff member Ashley working with a Peregrine Falcon.

Ambassador Animals

Our Ambassador Animal volunteers also continued to work outdoors throughout 2021. Each day in all kinds of weather our Ambassador Animal volunteers provided essential care and enrichment to the four birds and turtle that call Bird Alliance of Oregon home. They learned new training methods, cleaned enclosures, fed and trained animals, and together logged over 1,300 hours of service!

Ambassador Animal Ruby, the Turkey Vulture, photo by Tara Lemezis


Our Wednesday Work Crew had an exciting year!  Each Wednesday morning you will find a crew of 8-18 volunteers gathered outdoors in work clothes, with tools, gloves, and at times hard hats. After a hot cup of coffee and check-in about the work for the day, the crew heads out into the Sanctuary. In 2021, our Wednesday Work Crew logged over 1,500 hours of time! The majority of that time was spent removing invasive plant species, clearing trails, addressing safety hazards, and making improvements to our trail system. Together with our partners Trail Keepers of Oregon, our Wednesday Work Crew completed a major re-route of a dangerous section of trail in the upper sanctuary. They ventured into corners of the Sanctuary that had not been tended recently to tackle invasive plants and continue to improve our safe haven for native flora and fauna.

Nature Store

Throughout 2021 our volunteer presence grew at the Nature Store. As it became safe to be on campus, our Nature Store volunteers assisted staff to keep our store running smoothly. By late fall we were back to having our store open 7 days a week! Together our Nature Store volunteers provided 2,461 hours of service.

Community Science

Our Community Science volunteers remained active throughout 2021 and together gave more than 4,000 hours over a variety of projects, from monitoring Black Oystercatchers on the coast to taking part in the Christmas Bird Count in the metro area. The data they collect helps us advocate for habitat and species protections across the state!

Snowy Plover Patrol volunteers

Wild Arts Festival

In November 2021 we hosted our first in-person Wild Arts Festival since 2019!  We were thrilled to raise $174,000 with two-thirds the normal attendance. The festival would not have happened without the volunteer leadership of the Wild Arts Festival Planning Committee and the 130 event volunteers! Together they contributed over 1,000 hours of time.

Special Events

We were excited to again host a couple of outdoor special events. In August we hosted our Used Book Sale on campus, and in September we joined our friends at the Feral Cat Coalition of Oregon to co-host another annual Catio Tour. Volunteers made both events possible!

Volunteers greeting people at Catio Tour 2021.

Backyard Habitat Certification Program

Our Backyard Habitat Certification Program which is co-managed with the Columbia Land Trust also had an astounding year. Volunteers engaged in new ways including a robust series of online trainings, shadowing each other to learn how to certify yards, native plant ID walks around the metro area, and quarterly online conversations about the program and beyond. Together they contributed more than 1,500 hours. Their support enabled 493 new sites to achieve certification, which equaled 99 more acres and over 45,000 native plants!


In the last half of 2021 we were able to begin offering Outings, which are free bird walks open to the public. A dedicated team of volunteers prepare for and host the walks. They adjusted to new COVID-19 protocols, and were able to begin offering walks beginning in the late summer, and together dedicated more than 175 hours of volunteer time!


All volunteers participate in our activism in some way – just by being Bird Alliance of Oregon volunteers, they vote with their time about what matters! Hundreds of volunteers and members of the public made their voices heard regarding several key issues in 2021: striking down the Trump Administration’s attempt to reverse the Migratory Bird Treaty Act, the passing of the Elliott Forest Plan, the uplisting of the Marbled Murrelet from threatened to endangered, and encouraging the city to deny Zenith Oil a Land Use Compatibility Statement. Thank you for your persuasive emails, phone calls and testimonies in support of our Conservation agenda! 

Marbled Murrelet, photo by Robin Corcoran/USFWS

Volunteer Program Committee

Our Volunteer Program Committee is a Board Committee that helps advise and guide the Volunteer Program. Beyond planning and advising, they also help with all-volunteer events like our online Zoom trivia night, and our online celebration in September 2021. Our popular Ovenbird walks also fall under the leadership of our Volunteer Program Committee

Volunteers Ovenbird Outing at Kelley Point in August 2021.

For all the highlights and bright spots of 2021, we are still missing some of our long-standing volunteers and volunteer activities. Who knows what 2022 may bring, but we look forward to re-engaging with all our Sanctuary Tour Guides, having our Receptionists back on campus regularly, and again celebrating the Swifts at Chapman Elementary School during September. 

Cheers to another successful year of volunteerism at Bird Alliance of Oregon! On behalf of the staff, the board, our visitors and supporters THANK YOU Bird Alliance of Oregon volunteers, for the work you do to make Bird Alliance of Oregon the incredible organization that it is. We simply could not do it without you!