American Robin

Somewhere in your yard, there’s a new bird’s nest. It’s an artful little orb woven from local materials: twigs, grass, downy feathers, maybe some stray dryer lint. Whatever the makeup, nests are adaptive, creative, and open to new life. And, our 2022 Spring Appeal serves much the same generative purpose.

Of course, birds aren’t all we care about at KNC. Our Education, Conservation Stewardship, and Research programs run the gamut from invasive species control to forest carbon surveys and butterfly propagation. In all these areas, we continue to grow in scientific knowledge and human understanding. Yet our work with birds illustrates nicely how a KNC focus area can evolve and deepen over time.

We can trace our avian lineage to KNC’s founder, Dr. H. Lewis Batts, Jr. He first recorded bird observations in 1950 — 10 years before KNC was founded. Since 1974, KNC has led one of the nation’s longest-running bird banding programs. Under the auspices of our Kalamazoo Valley Bird Observatory (KVBO), we’ve banded and logged more than 500,000 birds! More recently, KVBO has built 18 Motus towers (motus is Latin for movement) that stretch from Lake Michigan to Lake Erie – more than 300 miles. They beam the data collected from nano-tagged migrating birds to the Birds Canada National Data Centre where it’s used by international researchers.

Meanwhile, we’ll merge avian science with art from July to September in our newly renovated Visitor Center. The exhibit will feature the beautifully precise work of illustrator Olivia Mendoza. And, on September 12, we’re thrilled to host Dr. J. Drew Lanham, a Clemson University ornithologist and best-selling author of the memoir “The Home Place.” His book explores race, environmentalism, and Lanham’s family legacy on a farm once worked by his enslaved ancestors. He writes about what it means to be “the rare bird, the oddity”— a Black man, scientist, and birder in a profoundly White profession.
With your support, we’ll help conserve birds, healthy forests, clean waters and so much more on our KNC properties and beyond. We’ll stay true to our roots, even as we put down new ones to sustain us in the seasons ahead.

KNC is a private, non-profit organization (501(c)(3)) formed in 1960. We are supported by membership and admission fees, monetary and in-kind donations, program and service fees, foundation grants, and endowment earnings.