I’ve been fascinated by the natural world since I was very young. I spent many of my early years exploring the forest and streams in the Oregon coast range with friends and family. When I was 12, my best friend started birding, and while we were out in the woods exploring, he would point out species to me. I quickly became hooked on watching birds, and this has developed into a hobby (well, maybe more of an obsession). As I started to watch more and more birds, I decided to get a camera so I could capture some of the spectacular animals I would see while out in the field. Over the last seven years, I have continued to photograph birds and now have a curated library with about 10,000 photographs from more than 500 species of birds.
Wildlife enthusiasts often think about going to a national wildlife refuge, a state park, or maybe a national forest. But we have animals that live around us all year; in fact, quite a few species can be seen without even leaving the Lawrence University campus. More than 140 species of birds have been found on campus, 92 of which I have seen since the start of this academic year, and even more can be seen on a short walk off campus on one of the trails along the Fox River. I’ve also seen numerous mammals such as a red fox, American mink, and white-tailed deer, plus four species of rodents. These neighbors can easily be missed if you do not pay close attention to your surroundings. With busy schedules, it’s easy to forget that many other creatures call our campus home.
The best way to spot our animal friends is to watch closely for movement or listen—about 75% of the animals I find are heard first—but remember to watch them from a respectful distance and never approach or feed wildlife on campus.
Editor's note: Kai Frueh has written about birds and birding for Oregon Birds magazine, the Cornell Lab of Ornithology, and Black Swamp Bird Observatory. His photos appear in Oregon Birds magazine, Cornell Lab’s Merlin Bird ID App, and Birds of the Pacific Northwest: A Photographic Guide.