Monterey Audubon Society strives to expand appreciation for birding by adding new locations to its list of trips.
By Celia Jimenez
Birds are wildlife that are found everywhere, not just in places easily identified as “nature”— you might see them on a utility
wire or in a parking lot. Some, like crows or pelicans, are easily identifiable. Others need a little bit more training to recognize,
like black swifts, warblers or plovers.
Those who are interested in learning more about birds can turn to the Monterey Audubon Society, a nonprofit that focuses on celebrating and conserving birds and wildlife in Monterey County. The chapter of the National Audubon Society has been around
since 1943, but its mission and who it serves is still growing. While the group has organized birding trips since it was founded, the Big Idea for Monterey County Gives! is to remove barriers to participation, specifically for people who might have mobility impairment.
That includes offering birding tours at accessible locations, in addition to terrain like beaches and trails. Since the ADA-accessible trips started in spring, groups have been to places like Kirby Park at Elkhorn Slough, Natividad Creek Park in Salinas, Locke-Paddon Park in Marina and the Rec Trail in Pacific Grove. The newest route goes “wharf to wharf” in Monterey, between the Coast Guard Pier and Fisherman’s Wharf. Groups are small, generally 10-12 people.
Participants of all abilities learn to observe, identify and appreciate birds, by watching and by listening. It helps understand and enjoy the 500-plus bird species in Monterey County.
“We’re really spoiled here,” says Amanda Preece, environmental advocate for the Monterey Audubon Society. “We just have so many amazing microclimates and lots of diversity of landscapes, which leads to diversity [of birds].
“We just have pretty much great birding all year round,” Preece adds.“It’s a pretty special place.”
The nonprofit also gets involved in local policymaking on behalf of protecting bird habitat, such as providing comments on land-use issues like zoning that can impact bird populations and birding access.
Besides getting people outside to go birding, they also offer workshops such as how to use the eBird app, through which people can submit birding observations, helping to bolster a citizen science database.