The Madison Public Library is offering birding backpacks, thanks to a donation from the Madison chapter of the Feminist Bird Club and the Madison Public Library Foundation.
Last spring, the Feminist Bird Club joined the Great Wisconsin Birdathon to raise funds to purchase backpacks of birding equipment to have available for checkout from the library.
Members of the club were able to raise over $4,000 during the Birdathon. Fifty percent of their funds supported Wisconsin’s highest-priority bird conservation projects, while the other half funded one birding backpack at each Madison Public Library location.
The Madison Public Library Foundation matched that donation, providing funds for an additional nine backpacks. The goal of this project is to eliminate the cost barrier that can come with trying a new hobby such as birding. All of the equipment needed to get out and explore nature through birding is provided in the backpacks.
Each backpack includes one of the following:
- Binoculars for adults
- Binoculars for kids
- Sibley field guide
- Youth field guide donated by Madison Audubon
- Birding location guide to help explore spots near each library
“Birding is such a joyful hobby, but it can feel exclusionary from the start if you don’t have access to binoculars. They can be a pricey investment,” said Caitlyn Schuchhardt, who is part of the Feminist Bird Club’s leadership team. “We wanted to make it easier for those who are bird curious to get started with this hobby.”
Schuchhardt says there are many benefits to birding, including mental health and overall wellness. “Birding can open up a whole new world of wonder and curiosity. You can feel transported to a different place, mentally. Immersing yourself in nature and the wonder of birds can help you step away from the very real problems of the world and find some needed joy,” said Schuchhardt.
Backpacks can be checked out for seven days at a time, and Madisonians will find two backpacks at each Madison Public Library location. No holds are available for the bags, so they are first come, first serve.
The Feminist Bird Club is a birdwatching club dedicated to promoting inclusivity in birding while fundraising and providing a safe opportunity for members of the LGBTQIA+ community, BIPOC, and women to connect with the natural world. The Madison chapter was founded in 2019 and offers monthly outings that are open to everyone who supports their mission, with no birding experience required.
Photo courtesy of Madison Public Library Foundation, https://mplfoundation.org/news/newsletter/birding-backpacks/