Birdwatching at SSU:
Old friends leave and new ones arrive

Becky OlsenWhen Becky Olsen looks up into the sky above the campus she often sees the antics of the natural world that most of us miss.

Her quiet and devoted passion for bird watching over the past 24 years has given her a private way of experiencing the day and a meditative approach to engaging the campus.

And it leaves anyone who listens to her eager to grab a pair of binoculars.

One day in April she reported “a Golden Eagle flew over today, only to be escorted out of SSU airspace by one of our ravens. You never know what you might see if you look up!”

Most of us are used to seeing little brown birds wherever we look. But Olsen has developed a certain watchfulness that catches nesting and mating behaviors, migratory patterns other patterns of wildlife that makes this pursuit so rich.

With her own personal bird list of “right around 100” there are always birds to watch on this campus, she says.

In the spring when the migrants are beginning to return from the South, it’s exciting to see or hear the first bird of the season. One day it’s very quiet, the next you hear orange-crowned warblers singing who have returned to set up nesting territories, says the administrative analyst who has been at SSU for 29 years.

"I enjoy watching their behavior….how they forage, how they interact with other birds."

Besides the resident birds that do not migrate and that are present year round, there are those that pass through in the fall on their winter migration to Mexico and beyond.

"There are also those that stay for the winter and leave in the spring to head north to breed," she says. So, given the time of year there is always something new to see.

“Old friends leave and new ones arrive.”

-Jean Wasp

Spring Birdwatching Around SSU
Noon - 1 p.m., Wednesday, May 8
Commons back patio

Join Becky on a walk around the duck ponds, and Native Garden/Copeland Creek area to look for local and migratory birds and learn a little about their natural history. Bring binoculars if you have them and be prepared for an hour of walking (comfortable shoes and weather appropriate gear).