Community members celebrate spring migration on campus walk
Members of the Northwestern community will take an organized walk around the campus this Saturday, celebrating the spring migration of birds thanks to indigenous knowledge.
In the morning, masked and socially distant participants will gather in front of the Center for Native American and Indigenous Research and give recognition of the lands. They will then walk to the Clark Street Beach Bird Sanctuary.
The event aims to foster a kind of birding steeped in indigenous knowledge, Ph.D. co-organizer said nominee Nikki McDaid, who is Shoshone-Bannock.
“The goal for us is to bond with our bird parents,” they said. “It’s really trying to live and be the right way with land and water.”
The event is open to anyone, regardless of their knowledge of birding, McDaid said. All community members looking to cultivate a relationship with the environment are welcome to attend.
The event comes after group birding came to a halt during the pandemic. Mass vaccination and a recent amendment from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention allowing outdoor activities have opened up opportunities for community members to organize, McDaid said.
Josh Honn, English and Digital Humanities librarian at the University Library who co-hosted the event, said he has been involved in birding for the past seven years. Honn said he used to wait at Weber Arch every month and go on a birding walk with whoever showed up.
That’s why McDaid and Honn decided to open the Migration Celebration Walk to the entire NU community.
“We’ve learned so much from each other,” Honn said. “I am thrilled to share a space with people in nature while learning and growing and seeing this campus in a different way that we sometimes take for granted.”
The campus is an Indigenous natural space, Honn said. As a result, he said he hoped to spark discussions on how best to support and be responsible for nature on campus.
PhD Student Ally Reith said she looks forward to attending the migration walk. Two years ago, Reith attended an event coordinated by CNAIR and Hoon where community members embarked on a bird walk and lunch afterwards.
“I had never done (bird watching) before, and it was such a magical experience and I had such an amazing time that I immediately bought binoculars,” Reith said.
During the pandemic, birdwatching anchored Reith, she said. Watching birds build nests, herons catching fish in the pond, and other activities helped her decompress.
Birds that do not reside in the Chicago area shuttle completely through the area during the spring migration period. Reith said she hopes to see birds like warblers, which are colorful and difficult to spot.
McDaid said that although this is an informal event, they hope it inspires people to bond with bird parents on campus.
“I hope this inspires people to think of birding as a way to get closer to our bird parents and to think about the gifts we can give to birds (and) the gift birds give us.” She said.
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