From expert ornithologists to anyone who simply enjoys strolling in nature, Kenyon’s new Birding Club offers all students the opportunity to familiarize themselves with Ohio’s avians. The organization, which centers around birdwatching, held its first hike at the Brown Family Environmental Center (BFEC) on Nov. 3, but members are soon looking to spread their wings far beyond the Kenyon campus.
Birding Club, which was officially approved on Oct. 30, has several experienced birders at its forefront — including Expedition Chair Isoo O’Brien ’25, who broke a Cook County birding record in 2020 when he spotted 282 different species in a single year. O’Brien explained in an email to the Collegian that he is excited to provide his expert advice to beginner birders. “Birding is a pretty niche interest, especially within the demographic of college students, so starting a club is a great way to bring us together,” O’Brien wrote.
The club has already sparked enthusiasm on campus, making its debut with a walk at the BFEC that successfully drew a crowd of dedicated nature enthusiasts despite the snow and sleet. According to Birding Club Vice President Aidan Cullen ’26, about 10 students showed up for the Nov. 12 walk, and attendees had several sightings — including a bald eagle, a red-bellied woodpecker and tufted titmice. Based on participants’ willingness to endure the cold, Cullen is confident that the club will not allow the rapidly approaching chilly weather to clip its wings. “Though the winter isn’t an ideal time for birding, there are still some local spots with swans, cranes and owls that we plan to visit!” Cullen wrote in an email to the Collegian.
Birding Club’s current plans primarily involve monthly nature walks at the BFEC. However, the group is already setting their binoculars on birding sites beyond Kenyon’s campus. According to Cullen, as spring approaches, the club hopes to use Business and Finance Committee funding to purchase binoculars and camera equipment — in addition to acquiring College vehicle certification that will allow them to travel to other locations throughout Ohio.
Right now, however, Cullen explained that the club’s top priority is building a loyal community and attracting a group of regular attendees committed to participating in monthly birding walks. In an email to the Collegian, Assistant Professor of Biology Natalie Wright, the club’s faculty sponsor, encouraged anyone who wishes to gain exposure to a variety of scientific disciplines to consider joining the club for a walk. “Knowledge of birds leads to a broader understanding of anatomy, ecology, evolution, behavior and conservation, and often leads students to seek careers in biology or environmental studies,” she wrote.
Although the Birding Club is highly relevant to those studying the sciences, Cullen reiterated that anyone — regardless of skill level or career interests — is encouraged to join. “If you have any interest in birds, Ohio natural history or just want to find a community to engage in nature with, please join! We will be leading field trips and hosting meetings to learn more about the science of ornithology and hopefully having fun activities. Anyone is welcome!”