Expect a different form of campus tour through the Bird Walk

Haley Stark, News Reporter

Robins, scrub jays, spotted towhees, chickadees and Oregon juncos. 

According to tour guide Amerie Lommen, these are just a few of the species you can expect to encounter on the Bird Walk at Oregon State University. 

The tours run from noon to 1 p.m. on Feb. 21 and 23, taking guests around campus from Kerr Hall to the greenhouses for the chance to learn more about local avian wildlife. 

Lommen has acted as tour guide for the Bird Walk since its inception, though she typically works as a web developer for OSU Extension Service Communications. Through the few years she’s been a part of the event, she’s seen how much it has grown and changed already.

According to Lommen, the first Bird Walk was in 2019, and was informal, made up of people in her office taking part in a walk around campus.

Gigi Davies, a graphic design student at OSU, poses with binoculars for a photo illustration on Feb. 2 next to Fairbanks hall. The OSU birdwatching tours run from noon to 1 p.m. on the 21st and 23rd of February.

“I lent out some binoculars. People stop and ask questions while people are looking at various birds. In 2020 when we opened it up to the wider OSU community besides just our office, we ended up with kind of a really big group,” Lommen said. 

The event shifted to a virtual “Bird Talk” in 2021, but more in-person sessions would be added the next year to keep up with growing demand. Each of the two sessions this winter has 18 spots for guests, with groups filling up quickly. 

Amy Baker, a business support specialist also working at OSU Extension Service Communication, handles registration for the event. She said that the first date is already completely full, with three spots still available for the second tour.

The Bird Walk requires a donation of at least $5 to attend, with the money going to a local food bank, Linn Benton Food Share. Although Lommen said attendees are typically faculty and staff, students are welcome to participate as well. 

Bird Walk is not the only opportunity for bird enthusiasts to show their love on campus. OSU Bird Nerds is a student-run ornithological club that hosts birding and social events year-round.

The Willamette Valley Bird Symposium is another event ornithophiles should watch out for, taking place annually in January. 

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