As part of the Forest Preserves of Cook County’s Bird the Preserves initiative, we are featuring one Birder of the Week September through October to highlight the unique experiences and diversity of the birding community. To learn more about birding or to attend an upcoming bird walk, visit our Birding Page.
Name: Kimberly Ruffin
Age: Grown woman
Hometown/neighborhood: Oak Park
Current/past profession: Higher Education
Number of years birding: I started making an effort to learn bird species and go out on birding trips about 10 years ago.
Why did you start birding?
I was in the habit of going out for a morning walk several years ago, and I would frequently see a great blue heron in a nearby retention pond. I wanted to learn more after seeing that bird over and over again, watching its graceful flight. It feels good to learn more about our fellow earthlings.
What was your first birding experience?
My parents exposed me and my brother to all sorts of outdoor settings, and it’s difficult to name one specific experience as a “first.” Kudos to Ma and Pa Ruffin to making sure their kids experienced the outdoors. I love those two!
What is your favorite bird species and why?
The colors of the indigo bunting get me every time. I never tire of seeing cardinals, male and female, too.
What is your favorite place(s) in the Forest Preserves of Cook County to bird?
Miller Meadow is nearby, and I think it’s going to become my favorite place to bird.
What would you say to others to get them to start birding?
It’s hard to explain the delight and pleasure I get from birding, but the joy it brings has been fairly consistent. For that reason, I’d recommend it. Birding is a hobby you can do alone or with others; in nearby locations and distant locales. It doesn’t take a lot of expensive gear, and it helps you better appreciate the incredible world around us. I find it’s just good for my soul.
How early or late have you gotten up/stayed up to go birding?
What I call “birdsong time” is at 4:30 am (which is probably late for many birds). When I’m up that early, I go out on my balcony and just listen to what amounts to an avian orchestra. It’s enchanting.
What type/brand of binoculars do you use?
My husband and I splurged and got a pair of Zeiss binoculars. Worth every penny.
What is the most important lesson you have learned through birding?
We share the planet with some amazing creatures. We need to do more to take care of our natural spaces, and by doing so, we take care of our selves.
If you were a bird what kind of bird would you be?
With all due respect to the indigo bunting, this Prince fan would be the most resplendent purple bird out there. From what I can tell, this may be a purple martin or macaw.
The views and opinions expressed here are those of the interviewee and not necessarily those of the Forest Preserves of Cook County. Support for the Bird the Preserves initiative was generously provided by the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service through Chicago Wilderness.