Paulson shares her birding expertise
BARRINGTON Friday Mar 30 2012 Wendy Paulson explains to Sam Oliver and Mike Comerford what birds they are seeing inside of Beese Park during a bird walk. Paulson is a Barrington area bird expert and is part of Citizens for Conservation. | Michelle LaVigne~Sun-Times Media
Every time Wendy Paulson takes a group out birding, she learns something new.
Paulson, who spent five-to-10 years studying to become proficient in birding, has had an interest in the activity since she first moved to Barrington Hills.
“When I first came to Barrington in the ’70s, I realized I was very interested in birding and had very fine and generous tutors,” said Paulson, wife of Hank Paulson, former U.S. Secretary of the Treasury. The couple, who have been married for 43 years, have two children Merritt Paulson and Amanda Paulson and four grandchildren Willa, 4, Finn, 3, Cassidy, 3, and Adelaide, 8 months.
Remembering her great tutors, who helped foster her interest in birding, Paulson wanted a way to be that to other people. In 1980, Paulson began offering bird walks at Crabtree Nature Center through the Natural History Society in Barrington, of which she is a past president.
When Paulson returned to the area last year, she began doing walks through Citizens for Conservation, which she has had extensive involvement with, and does walks at Northerly Island through the Audubon Chicago Region, Field Museum and Open Lands.
“I think (birds) are a great window into the natural world,” she said.
When she first started out, Paulson studied bird songs. She would listen to recordings for hours and then go out into the field to test herself. She still keeps CDs of bird songs in her car.
Citizens for Conservation has several bird walks and hikes scheduled this spring. Paulson said April and May are particularly fun times for birding as it is migration season. On the walks she leads, a wide variety of people attend — from beginners to seasoned birders, from kids to senior citizens.
“It’s an opportunity to get outdoors, get to know areas they’re not familiar with,” Paulson said. “One of the reasons for my starting them again in the forest preserves is to show people the restoration... and what that has done to the area bird species.”
One of Paulson’s favorite birds in the area is the Eastern Bluebird. When she first moved to the area, the species was almost non-existent in the area. Now Citizens for Conservation and individuals have used nest boxes around town to attract the birds.
The walks and hikes are also always a learning experience for all involved. In addition to the birds, those on the walks also get to experience nature first hand, and all of its creatures.
She recalled a walk last year at Headwaters where they couldn’t take a step without running into a garter snake or leopard frog. On another walk, there was a coyote that watched the group the entire time.
“I think it enriches them in untold ways,” Paulson said. “It opens our eyes and ears and our perception to a much wider sense of our surroundings. It opens our eyes to beauty we may have overlooked.”
Paulson has also been a big advocate of getting children outdoors. For 12 years, she was the Nature Lady, going into Community Unit School District 220 schools and St. Anne School, educating students.
“One of the reasons I’m so keen on ensuring children are exposed to nature is I think it awakens them in ways classroom learning cannot,” she said, adding it arouses a child’s natural curiosity.
Cosponsored by Audubon Chicago Region and Citizens for Conservation, several Barrington area spring bird walks and hikes are scheduled.
Walks are free and open to the public, though spaces are limited. R.S.V.P. to Janis Wesley at (847) 328-1250, ext. 10 or email@example.com.
Scheduled walks include: 8 a.m. April 13 at Beese Park, meet at Beese Park at the east end of Cornell Avenue; 7:30 a.m. May 4 at Headwaters, on Wichman Road off of Route 72; 7:30 a.m. May 11 at Baker’s Lake, meet at the parking lot on Highland Avenue south of Hillside Avenue; 7:30 a.m. May 16 at Beverly Lake, meet in the parking lot off of Route 72; 7:30 a.m. May 22 at Baker’s Lake, meet at the parking lot on Highland Avenue south of Hillside Avenue; 7:30 a.m. May 30 at Penny Road South, meet at Penny Road Pond parking lot, less than one mile west of Old Sutton and Penny roads; 7:30 a.m. June 6 at Galloping Hill, meet at Penny Road Pond parking lot, less than one mile west of Old Sutton and Penny roads; and 5:30 p.m. June 17 at Longmeadow, meet on the north side of Longmeadow Drive, off of Bateman Road.