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Birding couple turns passion into profit

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      Beautiful baby owl is hard to resist

Career professionals coach career seekers to do what they love to love what they do. Follow your bliss is the credo. How many of us have wished we could do just that but haven’t? Well, meet a couple who have; Kathy and Bob Andrini.

Bob, a retired biology teacher at Addison Trail High School, got the birding bug when he took an ornithology class in college. He would lead morning bird walks during the school years and frequently, his wife, Kathy, would join him.

While Bob was influencing the high school set, Kathy molded the young minds at Swing Set Preschool. The more time she spent outside the more she craved it and pursued a naturalist certificate. She knew she was a birder in her own right when she started venturing out solo in pursuit of adding to her life list around 1996. Birders keep lists of the birds they spot. She recently challenged herself after a double knee replacement to endure a four hour hike in Big Ben National Park to spot and add the Colima Warbler.

The couple travels extensively in the quest of exotic and rare birds including Costa Rica where they added the Turquoise-browed Motmot and where wild McCaws were a common site. In the end, the more accessible and less showy Great Crested Fly Catcher is on Kathy’s short list of favorites.

Birding drama can also be discovered in your own backyard if you know where to look. Two years ago the Great Horned Owls took up residence in a tree outside the courthouse in Geneva, so Kathy and Bob did also. They set up spotting scopes and did a little street show and tell. Inherent educators they know how to draw a crowd. And this April as flocks of hundreds of American white pelicans rested at Nelson Lake in Batavia during spring migration Kathy and Bob were there to witness and instruct.

Birds migrate at night and not all enter the realm of a natural environment. The skyscrapers of downtown Chicago are a seductive trap of reflecting glass promising the lush treescape of an inside atrium. The result can be injury if not death as an aftermath of these collision events. The couple volunteered for three seasons as a banding rescue team searching the downtown streets and alleys for survivors at 5am. Survivors went to rehab and the not so lucky to the Field Museum.

Bob volunteers at the Field Museum bird lab regularly. A lucky few get to join him for private tours. The specimens rest in wooden drawers neatly labeled; many from the 1800’s, a carry over from the worlds fair. And if you can stomach it you can enter the beetle room. With all of the technology known to modern man the most effective and efficient method of preparing bird skeletons is to let a mound of flesh eating beetles loose on them. Not for the faint of heart.

Bob is also the President of the Kane County Audubon Society. Audubon captured the characteristics of various birds by drawing and painting them in their natural habitats. These days the camera does a much quicker job so as a natural extension the couple has become bird photographers as well. Currently, examples of their photography can be seen at the St. Charles library where the couple frequently serves as guest lecturers.

Kathy brings a recycling program to your school for kindergarteners through 5th graders. She also teaches a nature camp for five and six year olds every summer. The couple team up with the St. Charles Park District to offer the school district hands on programs for units of study. For instance, if a class is underway for forest ecology they will conduct field study in a forest.

They bring their passion and knowledge on birding to many groups as lecturers as well as experientially through bird walks. Whether you are an avid birder or just want to learn more about the colorful visitors in your backyard Bob and Kathy can provide an enjoyable experience.

Its still spring migration, its not too late to spot the tweet, tweet, tweets and your street, street, street!

For more info:   Contact Bob Andrini for program consultation at randrini@aol.com.

Comments

  • Geraldine 4 years ago

    That was a very interesting read about Bob and Kathy. It's wonderful for them to be able to follow their passion during retirement.