As summer approaches, Norman Bird Sanctuary’s 7 miles of trails remain open and its 325 acres of wildlife habitat are thriving. Like many nonprofit organizations in the local community, Norman Bird Sanctuary has adapted in response to the challenges presented by the COVID-19 pandemic. 

“Thanks to the generosity of our donors and an outpouring of support for our new online programs and activities, Norman Bird Sanctuary is flourishing and embracing this opportunity,” said Kaity Ryan, executive director.

In March, Norman Bird Sanctuary transitioned all of its public programs to online learning sessions and has since launched additional weekly virtual education programs.

“It has been fantastic to connect with so many members of the local community through these programs,” said Ryan. “And it is exciting to welcome new participants from all over the country who typically wouldn’t be able to attend our in-person programs.” 

For the first time in its 70 year history, Norman Bird Sanctuary is offering the community the opportunity to “adopt” and receive nesting updates on one of the 300 nest boxes annually installed in their grassland habitat. More than 60 of 75 “occupied” boxes have already been adopted.

The summer days ahead also promise lots of chances to enjoy fun events and beautiful views at Norman Bird Sanctuary. On June 19th, the nonprofit is partnering with Gather Intentional Living and invites the community to join in virtually from their own kitchens to learn “The Art of Charcuterie” with a special nature theme.

Then in July and August, families and nature lovers are invited to enjoy gourmet picnics, extended trail hours, and a bonfire on Thursday evenings while overlooking iconic views of the ocean and Sachuest Point. 

“Our audience is more engaged than ever,” Ryan said. “Whether it’s learning how to attract birds to your backyard, joining us for a charcuterie demonstration using vegetables found in your own garden, or visiting the sanctuary to hike, we are seeing an increased interest in nature and all that we offer.”

To continue the traditions of Summer Camp, beginning in June families can treat their kids to an intimate daily in-person nature exploration program called “Trail Trekkers.” Kids can also enjoy their favorite camp activities, such as dancing at “Friday Fiesta,” or looking for fish at “Seining the Sakonnet,” in a small group setting. To complement these new programs, families can also sign up for “Camp in a Box,” featuring online learning and self-guided activities to do at home.

Planning is underway for the organization’s largest community event, Harvest Fair, which will go forward in the fall featuring a combination of virtual, at-home, and on-campus activities at Norman Bird Sanctuary. 

Norman Bird Sanctuary’s hiking trails are open from 9:00 a.m. – 5:00 p.m. daily. The buildings, including public restrooms, remain closed to the public. NBS staff are available at the Welcome Center and by phone, (401) 846-2577. Trail passes and memberships can be purchased by calling the Welcome Center or via the NBS website at NormanBirdSanctuary.org.

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