For 62-year-old Ed Pullen, birding is like a game — like a sport.
When walking with a group of people, heads tilted to the sky, looking around for signs of birds, pointing one out can get competitive at times — but that’s part of the fun of it.
“Birding is a collegial sport,” said Pullen. “You help each other out and spot.”
Pullen has been leading birding trips for years through the Tahoma Audubon Society, a member-driven and volunteer organization dedicated to connecting people with nature.
Last year, Pullen led his first birding trip in the Puyallup Valley, with a turnout of about 30 people. This year, an easy birding trip is scheduled for Saturday (Jan. 7).
“It’ll be a beginners trip,” Pullen said. “I’ll start with the basic stuff. I’ll teach people how to use binoculars… then we’ll walk around and I’ll point at birds we see and I’ll try to identify (them). Just some really basic birding stuff and how you can look (them) up in a field guide.”
Pullen was first introduced to birding about 30 years ago while living in Florida. His wife, Kay, took Pullen birdwatching in the Everglades. He was instantly hooked.
It’s a game. I’d go to the beach and I’d get bored… Now I go to beach and look at the birds — everywhere I go i have something to do.
“It’s a game,” Pullen said. “I’d go to the beach and I’d get bored… Now I go to beach and look at the birds — everywhere I go I have something to do.”
Pullen moved to Puyallup not long after his first experience birding and became involved at the community level with the Tahoma Audubon Society, the Puyallup South Hill Rotary and the ABC Birding Club. He’s currently retired, but occasionally works at Sound Family Medicine in Puyallup.
Pullen has traveled most of the country for birding, and returned from a birding trip in Kenya in November that lasted 15 days, where he and his group saw 540 species. Pullen wrote on his website that the experience was a “trip of a lifetime.”
The species are quite different in Africa than in Washington state. Pullen hopes that his group will see birds of prey on his Saturday trip, as well as birds that have migrated from the north.
We’ll see the winter residents. Some of the birds live here all year round and there are a lot of migrants from the north that come down here during the winter.
“We’ll see the winter residents,” he said. “Some of the birds live here all year-round and there are a lot of migrants from the north that come down here during the winter.”
Pullen invited other Puyallup South Hill Rotary members, including president Jeff Lieurance, who plans to attend. While he’s never been birding before, Lieurance said he enjoys other outdoor activities, like elk hunting, and wants to see what birding is all about.
“(Pullen)’s been a birder for several years and he’s done presentations to the club,” Lierance said. “He’s really passionate about it and it’s kind of infectious.”
People of all ages can attend the free trip starting at 8 a.m. Saturday (Jan. 7). The route will begin at Bradley Lake Park at 531 31st Ave SE, and then moves to Orting and then possibly DeCoursey Park in Puyallup, said Pullen.
“I usually go up to Orting to get out into the open areas,” he said.
Attendees are encouraged to wear dry, comfortable clothing, bring cameras and be prepared to walk. To register online, visit the Tahoma Audubon Society website.