ELAINE MURPHY

By day, a mild-mannered part-time bookkeeper for a group of optometrists. Nights and weekends, a naturalist and teacher dedicated to enlightening people about the birds and other wildlife of the Portland area.

An amateur birder—her degree from State University of New York at Buffalo is in Russian—Elaine had always been interested in nature.  When her daughter, Shelley, was three years old, she talked about what animals they saw regularly, and Elaine realized that there was a great variety of birds they were seeing in their own backyard.  Elaine was hooked!  She became an avid birdwatcher, starting with bird feeders in her backyard and later graduating to birding trips and classes.

An excellent self-educated naturalist, Elaine started leading bird walks almost 20 years ago for Tualatin Hills and Lake Oswego park and recreation districts.  Shortly after, she joined forces with Backyard Bird Shop, leading many of our free bird walks, owl prowls, bat classes and walks, and birding classes.

Eventually Elaine developed her business.  Nature Services provides educational, creature-themed programs for schools, parks, home-school programs, and even birthday parties!  Elaine offers programs about backyard birds, predatory birds, insects, mammals, bats, and owls.  “I can remember what it was like when every bird was new,” says Murphy.  “Now when I lead walks, a lot of people are new to birding.  It’s new to them, and I’m sharing their excitement.  It’s reliving it all the time.  It’s always brand new!”