Richard Crossley

Keynote Speaker

Richard Crossley is an internationally acclaimed birder, photographer and award-winning author of ‘The Crossley ID Guide’ series. Born in Yorkshire, he also lived in Japan, and birded worldwide before settling down in his beloved Cape May, NJ.

After one of his frequent mid-life crises at the turn of the millennium, Richard decided it was time to spend less time obsessively birding and to focus on paying it forward. Sometimes called crazy (his badge of honor), wildly passionate, and driven, Richard’s focus is youth birding, and connecting people to a fuller appreciation and understanding of nature; its benefits to mind, body, and soul.

Richard’s latest book, The Crossley ID Guide: Waterfowl, continues to push boundaries. Self-published, the new guide encourages all outdoor conservation groups to view each other as one.

Richard’s next books The Crossley ID Guide: Western Birds and Ornitherapy (co-authored with Holly Merker and Sophie Crossley) will be published in March, 2021. Both books continue to connect us all to nature with a stronger appreciation and understanding of our common ground and its many health benefits.

Richard also co-founded the global birding initiative Pledge to Fledge, Race4Birds and The Cape May Young Birders Club. He served on the board of directors at Hawk Mountain Sanctuary. He has contributed to most major birding publications, is frequently heard on radio, and is a sought-after public speaker. 

There and Back
While working on The Crossley ID Guide: Waterfowl, Richard decided he needed to drive to the Arctic Ocean, northern Alaska – from his home in Cape May, NJ. Told in a thick Yorkshire accent, with a sense of humor, and a disdain for PC, Richard will talk about his 16,000 mile adventure. Living out of his truck, Richard chats about the incredible places he travelled and the inspiring people he met who changed his thoughts.

Holly Merker

Guest Speaker

Holly Merker has co-authored the forthcoming book Ornitherapy: For Your Body, Mind, and Soul along with Richard Crossley and Sophie Crossley, available early spring 2021. Holly has a background in art therapy, but today employs birds and nature toward the same goals in her work as an environmental educator and birding guide. Holly has worked as a professional birding instructor for National Audubon, the American Birding Association, and many other organizations. Passionate about connecting young people to birds, she co-founded the Frontiers in Ornithology Association, and has facilitated many young birder groups and teen birding camps. Dedicated to bird conservation, she has been state coordinator/reviewer for the Cornell Lab of Ornithology’s eBird Pennsylvania since 2005. In her free time, Holly spends every possible moment practicing Ornitherapy, which she credits helping her defeat breast cancer, restoring her health mentally and physically.

Ornitherapy: For Your Mind, Body, and Soul

Watching birds: not only fun, but good for you!

Learn why getting your daily dose of Ornitherapy is just what the doctor ordered….
Ornitherapy, or the mindful observation of birds, benefits our mind, body, and soul. We’re pushed and pulled in many directions, no matter our age. This can be tiresome; but if we allow birds and nature to slow us down, we are self-medicating. Research shows that exposure to nature actively reduces stress, depression, and anxiety, while helping build a stronger heart and immune system. Birds are gateways into deeper experiences with nature, magnifying these benefits. Through observation, we can learn not only about birds, but gain insight into our own lives while exploring our connection to the world around us. This fosters stewardship and bolsters conservation.

Within the program, we’ll delve into our connections to birds, how to practice Ornitherapy for optimal benefits, and learn about the latest research in the power of nature for overall wellbeing.
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