Articles, activities for boomers & seniors
Have we not often looked up at the sky and wonder at some of the remarkable birds flying above us or just sitting on a tree limb? While we might not be bird watchers, most of us take pleasure in seeing these beautiful animals soar high above us or just flitter from tree to tree.
One of the benefits of living here is that we have the Lehigh Valley Audubon Society in our backyard. This is a group consisting of avid bird watchers and volunteers who take great pleasure in spotting, following and studying birds.
You will e surprised to learn that this group has been in existence since the 1940’s. Its mission is the help people gain an appreciation and understanding of nature, provide educational services on local wildlife to our community, and protect local habitats that are critical to local (and international) wildlife populations.
The organization helps connect people to nature mainly through birds. It is not just for experts nor elites. They sincerely want to help you learn about birds. They welcome all levels of interest. They have several programs for children - these include educational outreach to schools and school children. LVAS participates in assisting schools in planning and implementing science curricula and nature activities; the members help boy scouts and girl scouts in earning nature badges.
LVAS also has an outreach program for seniors. LVAS hosts educational field trips aimed at novice birdwatchers of all ages. You can view their calendar of events online at www.meetup.com/Lehigh-Valley-Audubon-Society.
What can you expect on a field trip with LVAS?
Most are just 2-3 hours and are in our local area - they can be morning, evening or all day events. You go to parks in valley in a group with a mix of skills. Leaders are always there to answer questions. You can bring your own binoculars or you can borrow one at LVAS. The walks are at a leisurely pace while maintaining quiet. You will spend your time looking and listening for birds. The leaders will often spot the birds and point them out to beginners. They will talk about identification - what to look for in birds. They will discuss habits, migrations, seasons and the like. Migrations are based on a combination of weather and the appearance of insects and or favorite foods.
LVAS has evening educational programs such as how to make your garden hospitable to birds in your area. They give talks at other organizations like libraries, retirement organizations and the like. Many of their educational programs are free and open to the public.
Membership is very affordable at only $20. LVAS wants to make membership as accessible as possible to as many people as possible. There is a regular newsletter to keep everyone informed as to what is going on in the Valley.
LVAS is active with environmental issues. Some of the members serve on watershed boards, write letters to the local newspapers, contact legislators, and attend municipal meetings to ensure that environmental issues are discussed and considered.
LVAS invites you to join them at one or more of their events to see for yourself the joy and adventure of studying birds and nature right here in our parks and neighborhoods. You will get to learn about these amazing animals. Take your grandchildren along and make it a family affair. You may very well start on the road to an interesting and valuable new interest.
As part of the research for this article on the Lehigh Valley Audubon Society I went to meet Peter Saenger at Muhlenberg College He works at the Acopian Center for Ornithology. I expected to learn a little bit about some of our indigenous birds, but was amazed to find that the college has an extraordinary and well-known collection of birds, bird reference material and bird books. Muhlenberg students take courses at the college and work at the center as part of their course requirements.
The following is a list of areas around the Lehigh Valley where you can do your own nature walks in search of birds and other wildlife.
Delaware & Lehigh National Heritage Corridor
2750 Hugh Moore Park Rd. Easton, PA 18042
Ironton Rail Trail
3219 Macarthur Rd Whitehall, PA 18052-2921
Mariton Wildlife Sanctuary
240 Sunnyside Rd. Easton, PA 18042
Plainfield Township Recreation Trail
6292 Sullivan Trl. Nazareth, PA 18064
State Game Land 217
Lehigh Valley Visitors Bureau Lehigh Valley, PA 18002
Wildlands Conservancy at Pool Wildlife Sanctuary
3701 Orchid Place Emmaus, PA 18049
Barbara Malt, V.P. of LVAS was interviewed for this article and provided the background information on the organization.