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Marilyn Webb: A Bird Convert

In the spring of 2012, Marilyn Webb just happened to catch BirdNote on the radio. “It drew me in,” she recalls. Marilyn was so intrigued that she tuned in the next morning. By the following day, she had purchased a bird book and couldn’t wait to hear the next episode.

Marilyn and her husband Dean live near Discovery Park in Seattle, Washington, a place she describes as “bird delicious.” Yet prior to hearing BirdNote, “I was not a bird person,” she admits. “I had a bad attitude. I looked at birds and thought their legs were icky. And where are their ears?”

But when Marilyn became a regular BirdNote listener, everything changed. BirdNote stories opened up a sense of awareness in her. “Our relationships are critical, whether they’re with rabbits or birds,” she says. “BirdNote teaches us about the significance of protecting and defending birds. And it’s important to grab people’s interest—people like me who might not otherwise listen.” She adds, with a smile in her voice, “My husband is an environmentalist, and he’s happy I’m now on board.”

Marilyn enjoys combining her newfound fascination with birds and her background in education as a foundation for learning experiences with her grandchildren. She said the kids recently pulled a book off her shelf for them to read together. They chose She’s Wearing a Dead Bird on Her Head, the story of the fashion trend in the late 1800s to wear not just feathers, but entire birds as part of a hat. The practice led to the establishment of the Massachusetts Audubon Society and the start of a new attitude toward bird protection. Thanks to BirdNote, Marilyn was able to talk about this story in the context of conservation, asking her grandkids, “Aren’t we glad we’re not wearing birds on our heads today?”

Marilyn and Dean also involve their grandchildren in neighborhood birdwatching. The Great Blue Herons in a nearby rookery captivate the entire family. “They’re fascinating. And noisy! You can’t miss them,” Marilyn says. But recent Bald Eagle harassment has forced the herons to abandon their nests. “It’s hard for the grandkids to see eagles attack other birds and eat their eggs,” she acknowledges. “But those behaviors are part of the cycle of life and great learning experiences for kids.”

Inspired by BirdNote, Marilyn now walks through her neighborhood with binoculars in hand, carefully observing the birds she sees every day. “I’m thrilled that there are these beautiful little robins everywhere,” she says. “And I like crows. They’re so entertaining and clever.”

“What I love about BirdNote,” Marilyn concludes, “is that it’s well planned, the audio is good, it’s short, and it captures essential information. It reminds us that we all have jobs as stewards and teachers—in the broadest sense of the words.”

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