Are you a wannabe birder? Then mark your calendar! If you've yearned to learn more about birds and to network with other bird lovers, here's your chance.
My dear friend, Pam Perry, just sent me the upcoming program information for the Brainerd Lakes Area Audubon Chapter and it looks like they have a great line-up of guests. This relatively new club formed a few years ago under Mike North and Sandy Roggenkamp's direction and has grown ever since. The members are some of the best birders in the area. But that's not all. From personal experience I can attest to their upbeat and welcoming attitudes.
The club occasionally gets together with the long-standing Bee-Nay-She Bird Club, whose members include premier birders Jo and Steve Blanich, Warren Nelson, Pam Perry and John Richardson, who is also president of the Brainerd Lakes Audubon. There's no problem or conflict if you belong to both organizations. Double your membership, double your fun.
While club meetings provide great background information on birds and local resources, outings give you the chance to identify birds in the field. Two excursions I participated in this year were winter owl spotting north of Aitkin and the Big Day Bird Count in May at Northland Arboretum. Both events were fun and fruitful in terms of bird sightings and camaraderie.
With over 550,000 members in 518 chapters throughout the Americas, the National Audubon Society advances its mission to conserve and restore natural ecosystems, focusing on birds, other wildlife and their habitats for the benefit of humanity and the earth's biological diversity.
To join the Brainerd Lakes chapter, you actually join the National Audubon and then automatically become a member of the local. Annual dues are $20. With the exception of September and the Pillager Christmas Bird Count, meetings are at 7 p.m. on the fourth Thursday of the month at the Brainerd Public Library.
While offering the best of the best birders, Bee-Nay-She is really rock bottom in terms of dues. Just $5 buys a membership. The club meets on the second Thursday of the month in October, November, January, February and March. Meetings alternate between Crosby and Brainerd. The Oct. 11 get-together is in Crosby. Bee-Nay-She conducts its Christmas Bird Count on the Saturday before Christmas, which this year falls on Dec. 22.
If you're unable to attend the Lakes Audubon or Bee-Nay-She meetings, consider joining the Central Minnesota Audubon Society, which meets in St. Cloud at 7 p.m. on the second Monday of the month during the school year. Meetings usually are at the Heritage Nature Center, 225 33rd Avenue South. This club is quite issue oriented and has an active conservation committee. I know several members of the Central Audubon and, in fact, I'm the guest speaker for the Oct. 8 meeting.
To learn more about bird clubs and/or future birding events, contact any or all of the following:
-- Brainerd Lakes Area Audubon Society, John Richardson, (218) 829-2119;
-- Bee-Nay-She Council Bird Club, Jo Blanich, (218) 546-5939;
-- Central Minnesota Audubon Society, Linda Peck, (320) 685-3365; or visit their web site email@example.com.
Birding is a rewarding, life-long endeavor for children, adults and families. Mariah, my 7-year-old, already considers herself a birder and often announces to people, "We're wildlife watchers." You won't be disappointed if you invest time in a bird club. I look forward to seeing you at future events!
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