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Regional Interests

Autistic Portlander finds inspiration and comfort in ornithology

Fern Wexler won a youth volunteer leadership award from the Portland Audubon Society in 2020.
Fern Wexler won a youth volunteer leadership award from the Portland Audubon Society in 2020.

Fern Wexler loves birds. As a kid, he focused on birds around age 7 and, more than a decade later, remains fascinated. Wexler has attended numerous camps at Portland Audubon and even became a counselor himself. He recently wrote an essay for the organization’s website about what birds mean to him, specifically as an autistic person.

“Birds made—and still make—more sense to me than other people,” Wexler wrote. “Especially as it became obvious to my younger self that whatever was ‘wrong’ with my brain wasn’t something animals could pick up on. Only humans could do that. Ravens, jays, and juncos didn’t care that I functioned differently from everyone else. To them, we’re all just humans.”

We talk with Wexler about his essay, and about birds.

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