The Inaugural Bird Days of Summer

by Emily Pinkowitz, Education Director

This summer, Bird Alliance of Oregon is excited to launch The Bird Days of Summer, a suite of sliding-scale programs designed to engage new audiences in nature and birding. By combining community-building, exploration, and fun, we hope to create safe spaces for people new to Bird Alliance of Oregon to get to know each other as well as the birds. Together, we’re striving to build an inclusive community that is accessible to all.

A drawing of a racially diverse group of people in nature by a wetlands with the sun in the background.
Art by Stacie Balkaran

From July through August, we will offer more than 20 hours of “pay-what-you-can” programs that invite Portland residents of all socioeconomic levels to bike, hike, and even have a drink with our expert Adult Education team. Bird-curious folks will join Tara Lemezis for Beginning Birdnoticing, a supportive entry into the practice of quiet listening, observation, and reflection that allows us to deeply notice birds and other wildlife. Families will bring their little ones on leisurely Baby Bird Walks to spot ducklings and young birds with Erin Law. Active Portlanders will meet Brodie Cass Talbott for Birds & Bikes and enjoy relaxing, early morning rides through local wetlands. The more adventurous will travel to nearby natural wonders to hike with Candace Larson. And the social butterflies among us will join Greg Smith for Birds & Bevvies, a partnership with Güero Bird Club, founded by local restaurant Güero, that blends chill vibes, good food and drinks, and of course, birds.

All of these walks are designed with novices in mind. Binoculars will be provided, and programs will start with a primer to demystify these invaluable tools. Educators will take advantage of the quieter summer months to help new birders discover the everyday bird language that surrounds us, pointing out some of the common species that more seasoned birders take for granted. We opted to begin programs later in the day and took care to include weekend options so that people who are just beginning to explore birding can fold these outings into the rhythm of their lives.

These choices also forward our larger mission to make these programs accessible to all. Participants are invited to pay as little as zero dollars, though we hope those who are able will contribute what they can. But price alone does not guarantee that a program is accessible. We’ve taken care to ensure that the vast majority of these events are reachable by public transit. We’ve created intergenerational opportunities for families who like to explore nature together.

We’ve woven community-building into these events to help create a welcoming and inclusive group dynamic. And these programs will be led by staff educators who have participated in significant training in diversity, equity, and inclusion.

Biking and birding, photo by Tara Lemezis

Most importantly, The Bird Days of Summer is just one way we are working to build stronger relationships with communities who have been historically disenfranchised. Over the last six months, our Local Partnerships Associate, Greg Smith, has led more than 20 hours of free programs in partnership with a host of different organizations, including People of Color Outdoors, Wild Diversity, and Outdoor Afro. Our team is also collaborating with organizations that work directly with low-income communities, including Hacienda Community Development Corporation, Verde, and others. We will work with this growing network to get the word out about these programs.

We are grateful to local designer Stacie Balkaran, who recently illustrated J. Drew Lanham’s “9 Rules for the Woke Birdwatcher,” for designing these gorgeous graphics. We hope that you see this poster around town as we work to raise awareness about these events.

To learn more about The Bird Days of Summer and spread the word to new birders in your life, please visit