SoFo's Winter Birding By Car

Organization Name:
South Fork Natural History Museum
City & State:
Describe your creative piece – what is it and what has it been used for, and why is it innovative?
SoFo’s Winter Birding by Car, published by the South Fork Natural History Museum, is a map and bird guide that steers users to some of the more productive winter birding locations, accessible by car, on the South Fork of Long Island. The publication is used by bird watchers to facilitate winter birding when it is uncomfortable, and sometimes unwise to be outside for long periods of time. It is also used by educators to aid “in-the-field” winter birding programs for learner of all ages and the physically challenged. The guide/map offers specific information for those who wish to bird on the South Fork. No other publication or teaching tool of this kind exists. In addition, the publication enhances birding, as a car not only provides comfort and security for the birder; it also makes an excellent mobile bird blind, which most birds do not associate with danger. The result is that those who bird by car are often treated to very close views that would not be possible if they were on foot.
What issue or problem were you working to address with this piece?
Our mission is to educate the public about nature. Much of our programming takes place outdoors. A large part of it is about birding. Birding encourages people to get outdoors. It introduces them not only to birds, but to the habitats where they are found. Birding on the South Fork is excellent, and the magnitude and diversity of migrating and seasonal residents reaches its peak in the fall and winter, when it is possible to see birds that do not frequent our area at other times of the year. Outdoor nature education is not only pleasurable; it also fosters a concern for the environment. However there is growing concern that we are spending less time outdoors and thus becoming less connected to the natural world. Since our area is extremely rich in birding opportunities in winter, but getting outdoors can pose problems due to weather conditions, it was clear that we needed to develop a tool which would encourage both birding and outdoor winter experiences.
How has your submission successfully impacted your organization’s ability to solve this issue/problem?
We have produced an effective educational tool that enables us to promote outdoor winter nature experiences, connect people to the land at a time of year when they are less likely to be outdoors, and interest many new audiences in birding. The publication has greatly increased our outreach. It is used by experienced as well as novice birders, by the physically challenged, and by the museum’s nature educators, who have developed curricula around the subject of winter birds. Although the publication is titled SoFo’s Winter Birding By Car, it is used by groups that travel in buses, enabling us to promote the idea of outdoor winter birding experiences to large numbers of school children. Developing and producing this publication enabled our staff to think more broadly about how to create additional tools to encourage people to spend time outdoors, enjoying and learning about the natural world.
Creative Submission - Files