Reimagining Our Signage and Educational Displays

Help us rebuild the Wildlife Care Center and renew our campus and educational spaces – visit ForPortlandBird Alliance of to learn more and donate to support our capital campaign.


by Ali Berman, Communications Manager

Each year 40,000 visitors join us at the Bird Alliance of Oregon Wildlife Sanctuary, ready to hike the trails, visit the Nature Store, bring an injured or orphaned animal to the Wildlife Care Center, or connect with nature. From campers and school groups to birders and families, with each individual we have an opportunity to teach them about our local ecosystem, engage them in conservation, and give them a safe and welcoming place to enjoy the outdoors.

The Wildlife Sanctuary has always been free to the public and open every day from dawn to dusk. With that kind of open access, there are many visitors we will likely never meet. That’s why it’s so important that the signage and interpretive displays throughout our sanctuary are inspiring, educational, and inclusive, providing visitors with everything they need to know. They allow us to connect with our community, even if we aren’t able to talk face-to-face.

Bird Alliance of Oregon monument sign

We depend on our signage to:

      • Welcome visitors in a way that is inclusive to all people.
      • Educate the public about the native wildlife and flora and fauna that inhabit our 172-acre sanctuary and the greater Forest Park ecosystem.
      • Teach people about conservation and how they can help protect wildlife.
      • Help people respectfully and safely interact with the habitat and wildlife.
      • Provide information on wayfinding so visitors can easily navigate our trails and facilities.

The current signage and displays at our sanctuary have served us well for years, but they are overdue for an upgrade. Many are faded, some are broken, and the messaging needs to be updated. A small team, made up of representatives from Education, Conservation, Sanctuaries, our Board Equity Committee, and Communications, have joined together to reimagine what new signage and interpretive displays could look and feel like, and we’re excited by the possibilities.

As a first step in this comprehensive process, we are conducting listening sessions with many different visitors and marginalized communities to ensure the new signage and displays are responsive to community needs. These groups include volunteers, partners, communities of color, people with disabilities, people over 65, LGBTQIA+, youth, families, birders, members, scientists, and hikers. By listening to all of these voices, we can determine what makes a space feel welcoming and engaging, and make the lessons we learn central to the redesign of our signage and displays.

What might that look like? As a few examples, we are committed to making our signs available in multiple languages, including history of Indigenous peoples on the land, ensuring they are accessible to people who are neurodiverse and/or disabled, and making sure they are easy to understand for people of all ages.

We are especially excited to redesign our map to include accessibility features like elevation changes, noting where seating is located on our trails, and landmarks that will help people orient themselves. The updated colors and graphics will allow both children and adults to use the map and find their way through our sanctuary. Our current map, which was designed in the 1990s, is black and white and presents the most basic view of the trails and facilities. As you can see from an early draft of the new map, a redesign can completely change its look, feel, and usability.

This part of the capital campaign is especially exciting because it complements all of the other upgrades happening on campus. A new Backyard Habitat demonstration garden is fantastic, but it needs signage to help bring it to life and give people tangible lessons they can take home to use in their own yards or community spaces. The same is true for our new green roof, bird-safe windows, and bird-friendly lighting.

And while not a new sign or display, we are also excited that the physical accessibility of our main campus will increase as we build a new ADA trail that extends down to our Animal Ambassadors’, Ruby and Aristophanes, mews. This will make all the public areas of our main campus accessible for wheelchair users and others with mobility issues.

This part of the capital campaign gives us the opportunity to shape the visitor experience at the sanctuary for years to come. At its heart, the project to redesign our signage and interpretive displays is about education, conservation, inclusivity, and accessibility. We thank you so much for making a gift so that this project, and all the others highlighted here in the Warbler can become a reality.

If you’d like to help us rebuild the Wildlife Care Center, renew our campus and educational spaces, visit ForPortlandBird Alliance of to learn more and donate to support the capital campaign.