Volunteer Spotlight: Warren Mumford

The Unexpected Perks of the Front Desk 

WB volunteer Warren Mumford
Wellfleet Bay volunteer Warren Mumford

When retired International Paper scientist Warren Mumford and his wife Mary moved to Harwich four years ago, an interest in birds brought him to Wellfleet Bay. When he asked what volunteer work was available, "front desk" was the immediate reply.

The front desk may sound like an inevitable spot for a new volunteer, but as anyone who’s done the job soon discovers, it can be extremely hectic, especially during the summer. It can also subject you to a barrage of questions. But Warren sees it as a job that provides great training and exposure to all aspects of the sanctuary—natural history education, exhibit hall, and trail questions.

Learning how to remove birds from a mist net
Learning how to remove birds from a mist net

It also offers exposure to people from all over the world, some of them rather distinguished.

“For instance, the author Jared Diamond, who wrote the (Pulitzer Prize-winning) book Guns, Germs and Steel: The Fates of Human Societies, came in one day,” Warren says. “He lives in L.A. but comes to the Cape every year. He’s a big birder.”

Warren’s front desk post led to becoming a trail naturalist and then a volunteer at the bird banding station where he’s enjoyed working with master bander James Junda and his assistants. 

“You don’t just see birds up close," he says. "You get to know their physiology and habits. I enjoy checking the [mist] nets and hearing about the research the banders have done.”

Warren admits he’s not the kind of birder who drives to hotspots to see special birds. “I just like to combine birding with exercise” he says. “Looking for birds makes a walk much more interesting.”

And Warren knows a lot about walks—he aspires to become a member of the Adirondack 46ers, a club for people who’ve climbed all 46 high peaks of those mountains. To date, he’s hiked an amazing 33 of them!