In the Calvin birding club, students delve into the complex, often over-looked subculture of birding. The Calvin birding club aims to help Calvin students gain knowledge and appreciation of birding, an activity in which bird watchers, or “birders,” use binoculars or scopes to observe different species of birds.
A big proponent of birding at Calvin is professor Darren Proppe, a professor of biology who teaches courses on ecology and evolution.
“Specifically, I look at birds and the effect of noise on birds,” said Proppe. “A lot of what drives my research is the fact that noise seems to have negative impact on songbirds. We see fewer songbirds in noisy areas.”
“The research I’ve been working on recently has been investigating the idea of trying to repopulate some of these areas. We did an initial test to see if playing back songs of particular species of birds would draw birds into areas near roads that had become less diverse.”
Junior Matthew Schepers assisted in professor Proppe’s research last summer and has participated in the Calvin birding club. Though some birders travel great distances to see birds, Schepers has found a birding location closer to home.
“The nature preserve always has birds. Right now there are birds migrating south, so if you have the initiative to go birding by yourself you should definitely do it. Also, if you want to get involved with the Calvin birding club, they have some great events.”
In regard to the best spots for birding in the area, Proppe said, “There is a very large number of species going through Calvin’s Ecosystem Preserve. We get a lot of nesting species out there in the summertime too. It’s something not to be underestimated for the value of birding. In the wintertime, you’re looking primarily at ducks and maybe if you’re lucky you can go down to the airport and see a snowy owl. It doesn’t have to stop, you can bird year-round.”
Proppe also speaks highly of the student-run birding club. “The Calvin birding club is an informal one; we haven’t applied as an official student organization but we hope to do that,” he said. “Students run a Facebook page and they post asking people if they want to go birding. They do some formal events as well. Two weeks ago we went down to Kalamazoo Bird Banding Station and learned all about banding birds.”
If you would like to get involved with birding at Calvin check out the “Calvin birding club” Facebook page. No previous birding experience or expertise is required to join.