Our nature preserves are open to the public 365 days per year from sunrise to sunset, providing natural places that offer peace and respite for all. Willistown Conservation Trust owns and manages three nature preserves in the Willistown area - Ashbridge, Kirkwood and Rushton Woods Preserve. We maintain these lands for the … Learn more about our nature preserves.
Workshop: Mindful Birding at Dusk
This workshop will help you learn the practice of Ornitherapy, which focuses on mindful birding. Holly Merker, lead author of Ornitherapy: for Your Mind, Body, and Soul, will begin with an opening presentation explaining the concept of Ornitherapy, and how and why birds and nature help promote overall wellbeing.
– Through guided instruction, we’ll learn simple mindfulness exercises to engage our sensory awareness while tuning into the birds and natural world surrounding us.
– We’ll used focused “Ornitherapy Explorations” using techniques and prompts in a gently guided walk and sit spot, enhancing ID skills and focused on surrounding birdlife, while promoting quality versus quantity of the experience
– Journaling practice – participants will use their Ornitherapy Journals (provided with program) to increase observation and awareness
– Debriefing our experiences in a group sharing exercise to inspire each other through our collective observations.
Benefits of Ornitherapy
· Enjoy a reprieve from life stressors and pressures
· Gain enhanced sensory awareness (sight, sound, smell, touch)
· Better understand birdlife through intentional observation
· Sharpen your observation skills
· Enhance your identification skills, while building a stronger foundation for overall bird ID
· Increase self-reflection through birds and nature
2 hour evening outdoor workshop
Accessibility: This event will be accessible for all mobility levels, and will be slow-paced, with some gentle walking and sitting on the ground.
Group size: 12 (please, no children under 12 years old)
What to bring: If you have binoculars, feel free to bring them. Water bottle or something that can be easily carried to stay hydrated. Sun protection is recommended, as are comfortable walking shoes. Please bring something to write with – you will be provided an Ornitherapy journal to use during our workshop. If you prefer not to sit directly on the grass, something portable like a cushion, beach towel, or lightweight yoga mat will work!
About Holly Merker
Holly Merker has a background in art therapy, but today employs birds and nature toward the same goals of wellbeing in her work as an environmental educator and birding guide. Holly has worked as a professional birding instructor for National Audubon, the American Birding Association, Hillstar Nature, and many other organizations.
Passionate about connecting young people to birds, she co-founded the Frontiers in Ornithology Symposium, and has facilitated many young birder groups and teen birding camps. Dedicated to bird conservation, she has been state coordinator/reviewer for the Cornell Lab of Ornithology’s eBird Pennsylvania since 2005, and a two-term voting member of the PA Ornithological Records Committee, as well as the Committee Chair.
Holly is lead author of the book Ornitherapy: For Your Body, Mind, and Soul (along with co-authors Richard Crossley and Sophie Crossley, Crossley Books, 2021) and is currently promoting the practice of Ornitherapy and providing workshops and programs across the U.S.
In her free time, Holly spends every possible moment practicing Ornitherapy herself, which she credits in helping her defeat breast cancer, restoring her health mentally and physically.