October 2022

Vol. 50, No. 5

Musings from the Blind Birder: A Story of Determination and Passion

Martha Steele

Recently, Bob and I birded with Jerry Berrier, who has been totally blind from birth due to retinopathy of prematurity, where the infant receives too much oxygen following birth. Our morning walk along trails in the Middlesex Fells in Medford was memorable for the unusual presence of both Yellow-billed and Black-billed cuckoos. Jerry held on to Bob’s elbow as they walked, while Alvin and I trailed behind them. We were navigating a tricky section of the trail with numerous uneven rocks and roots when my focus was interrupted with an unfamiliar sound. Bob yelled out, “Yellow-billed Cuckoo!” Two individuals were calling to each other and their calls penetrated through the forest. It was a life bird for Jerry and only the second time I had heard this species. Before the end of the walk, we also heard the more common Black-billed Cuckoo to round out a wonderful morning of birding.

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