Editor’s note: This article was initially published in The Daily Gazette, Swarthmore’s online, daily newspaper founded in Fall 1996. As of Fall 2018, the DG has merged with The Phoenix. See the about page to read more about the DG.
Alongside the start of a new school year, there emerges a plethora of fresh experiences and opportunities that students can engage in. Among these opportunities is Bird Club, a new student-run organization devoted to the observation of birds both on and off the Swarthmore campus.
Sayed Malawi ’18, the club’s president, discovered his passion for birds nine years ago. Since then, he has traveled to multiple countries—most recently Qatar—to explore and better understand the roughly 10,000 various species of birds that exist among us in the world.
“What blows me away is the diversity of birds,” said Malawi. “Each bird is incredible in its own unique way.”
The club will engage primarily in the sport of birding, also commonly referred to as birdwatching. The process of birding is simple; it involves the visual and auditory study of birds in the wild. That being said, Bird Club does not confine itself solely to this activity. Malawi has also generated plans to invite guest speakers to campus. Additionally, he hopes the club can practice bird banding, a process that involves peacefully catching birds and marking them with a band with their location, which ultimately helps contribute to the worldwide study of bird behavior by allowing others to track their movements.
While most of the club’s activities will be conducted in the Crum Woods of Swarthmore, Malawi is committed to ushering members to off campus locations as well. The town of Media, for example, hosts a yearly hawk watch that Bird Club is expected to attend this fall.
During an interest meeting held last week, Malawi assured his audience that no experience is necessary in order to join. To some students, participation might be incredibly enlightening. To those with more background, Bird Club provides the means to further enhance an existing enthusiasm for avian life.
For members such as Benjamin Schmidt ’18, Bird Club has a simpler, more intrinsic appeal. “What I seek is an escape from the blackboards and computer screens,” said Schmidt. “By allowing me to relax and appreciate the outdoor wildlife, Bird Club offers that escape.”
An estimated 160 different species of birds have been spotted on the Swarthmore campus alone, including a variety of owls, hummingbirds, woodpeckers, and hawks. Over the course of the year, Malawi expects that Bird Club will spot all of these species and more.
Possessing such a profound fascination with birds, Malawi aspires to spark a similar sense of interest within Swarthmore students.
“The appeal of birds is universal,” said Malawi. “My goal is to get people excited about these animals.”
Bird Club hosts multiple bird walks through the Crum Woods each week, and all students are welcome to participate. Feel free to email Sayed Malawi at firstname.lastname@example.org to express interest or inquire about weekly bird walk schedules.