“The Cerulean is directly in front of me! If you just move a couple feet to your right, you’ll be right on it!”
“We’ll meet at the parking area at 7:30. To get to where the curlews have been hanging out, it’s just a short walk through the hayfield there.”
“They’ve got the Burrowing Owls in the scope! Watch your step on the curb.”
Birders helping birders. Isn’t that the essence of the ABA experience? Yes, it is. But each of the preceding scenarios would present insurmountable obstacles—not just figuratively, but indeed literally—to the millions of U.S. and Canadian nature lovers who face access and mobility challenges in the outdoors.
One single step or curb is completely unnavigable to most wheelchair users. A stroll off the trail is unfeasible for many. In many instances, even the trail itself—steep or uneven or poorly maintained—is essentially impassable.
Birdability founder Virginia Rose birds from a boardwalk in coastal Texas. Railings can be made in many different ways, and there are lots of options to make sure they’re accessible. Photo courtesy of Virginia Rose.
Birding magazine and the ABA are committed to advancing the urgently needed initiatives of the Birdability agenda. With guidance from Birdability Founder Virginia Rose and Birdability Coordinator Freya McGregor, we are proud to have run several feature-length articles highlighting access challenges for birders with limited mobility, low vision, and hearing loss.
Awareness leads to action, and Birding strives to promote knowledge about access and mobility challenges for bird lovers in the ABA Area and beyond. If you’ve had experiences with access in the outdoors, we would appreciate knowing about them. Stories with happy endings are encouraging—and helpful. But stories with frustration or even heartbreak are also important for us to hear about. Please consider sharing in the space below.
Birding is a force for good in our society. Learning and sharing about birds translates into concern for birds and the environment, and the American Birding Association provides resources and community for all people interested in birds!