Wednesday, December 09, 2009

Birding with blind & visually impaired birders

A recent BEN Bulletin from Bird Education Network highlighted a "Birding for the Blind" program at Maryland's Patuxent Research Refuge and credited Steve Bouffard, former refuge manager at Minidoka National Wildlife Refuge in Idaho, for creating programs like this.

The bulletin's article said:

A tram tour allowed participants to travel through different habitats of the Refuge to get a real-life opportunity to hear different bird species. After the tram tour, Refuge staff and volunteers led participants through different education stations highlighting bird species found on the Refuge; one station included live Wood Duck chicks which could be touched and handled.

In preparation for the public program, the Refuge staff developed several additional partnerships. They included the Maryland State Library for the Blind & Physically Handicapped and the Maryland School for the Blind located in Baltimore. A professional physical therapist also visited Patuxent beforehand to give staff essential pointers on working with the blind.

The bulletin brought to mind the Great Texas Birding Classic, a birding competition with different categories. The event introduced the Outta-Sight Song Birder division a few years ago and encouraged visually impaired and blind residents to learn birdsong and participate in outings with birding guides. In the 2006 Classic, three teams -- Conroe's Palomas, The Tweety Birds and Caracaras Face to Face with Nature -- identified 35 to 39 species during their one-day event.

Does a festival or refuge in your area host programs for visually impaired and blind birders?

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Blogger Shoshana said...

Very cool idea! I'm sure blind and visually impaired Iowans I work with would love a program like this in Iowa.

December 10, 2009 7:22 AM  

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