Team Nuthatch competed in the 2022 World Series of Birding. The team was organized by Birdability, a group that promotes accessibility in birding, and consisted of people with different disabilities. Despite challenging weather, the team persevered and won an award in the competition. Team member Jerry Berrier says that the team had to work together to find wheelchair accessible locations and quiet space for those with sensory concerns. And the group bonded quickly, like when Jerry taught a teammate how to guide a person who is blind.
Birdability at the World Series of Birding
Written by Josephine McRobbie
This is BirdNote.
At 5:30 a.m., Jerry Berrier and his fellow members of Team Nuthatch arrived at New Jersey’s Cape May for the 2022 World Series of Birding. He heard a strange noise…
[Field audio recorded by Jerry Berrier]
almost like a car’s seatbelt warning—
Jerry Berrier: You know, the ding ding … It was a foghorn. It was going incessantly.
Jerry is blind and birds by ear. The foghorn would affect his ability to hear calls and songs. And the fog would impact visuals for his teammates who were not blind or low-vision.
Jerry Berrier: Binoculars were useless because the fog was so dense.
Team Nuthatch was convened by Birdability, a group that promotes accessibility in birding, and consisted of people with different disabilities. Despite the overcast weather - and the fog horn - Team Nuthatch persevered. In fact, they won the Cape Island Cup, the award for finding the most species south of the canal that separates Cape May from the mainland. The team identified 70 species in total.
Jerry Berrier: The new ones that I learned were the Laughing Gull and about two or three species of terns.
[Laughing Gull call, ML222906111, 0:02-0:07]
In addition to having to agree on which birds they were IDing, the team also had to work together to find wheelchair accessible locations and quiet space for those with sensory concerns.
Jerry Berrier: All of us had to have a bit of patience because we had never met in person before.
But the group bonded quickly, like when Jerry volunteered to teach a teammate how to guide a person who is blind.
Jerry Berrier: And she and I became fast friends and just had a blast. It was a fabulous experience.
For BirdNote, I’m Josephine McRobbie.
Senior Producer: John Kessler
Content Director: Allison Wilson
Producer: Mark Bramhill
Managing Producer: Conor Gearin
Field recording by Jerry Berrier
Bird sounds provided by The Macaulay Library of Natural Sounds at the Cornell Lab of Ornithology, Ithaca, New York.
BirdNote’s theme was composed and played by Nancy Rumbel and John Kessler.
© 2022 BirdNote October 2022
Narrator: Josephine McRobbie
ID# birdability-01-2022-10-17 birdability-01