Blind Birders find Birds by Ear for North American Bird Count
The Ninth Annual North American Migration Count was held on May 12, International Migratory Bird Day. Birders fanned out all over Maine to participate, county by county. The information they gather helps create a “snapshot” of the progress of the spring bird migration all up and down the Eastern states.
Penobscot County birders found over eighty bird species in our area. Of most interest were the brightly-colored migrant birds from the tropics. The first wave of these long-distance migrants were found: Yellow Warblers, Black-throated Green Warblers, Parula Warblers, Rose-Breasted Grosbeaks, and a few Scarlet Tanagers have migrated up from Caribbean islands, Mexico, Central and South America. A few Bobolinks were spotted in fields, back after an arduous journey from the Pampas of Argentina.
The first members of the Flycatcher family, Phoebes, Least Flycatchers, and Great Crested Flycatchers were back in Maine to celebrate Migratory Bird Day. Later migrants such as Alder Flycatchers, Yellow-Bellied Flycatchers, and Blackpoll Warblers are likely still in the Southeast or still crossing the Caribbean.
Of the eighty bird species found, twenty-seven were found by a group of birders led by Steve Colman of Bangor. Steve has been leading bird walks for the blind and visually impaired for several years at the Audubon Society’s Fields Pond Nature Center. Like all bird experts do, Steve’s group of birders identified birds by their songs. Coming from Bangor, Blue Hill, and as far away as Massachusetts, the group identified birds with Steve Colman’s expert guidance, finding their way along the nature center trails with white canes and with the help of sighted guides.
Prior to the bird walk, the group had a briefing session on bird songs with Don Tarbet on his computers. Wrapping up in the nature center after the bird walk, the birders rejoiced in the beauty of bird songs and the return of the migrants from their dangerous journeys. Several youngsters in the group contributed realistic imitations of the bird sounds they had heard and learned to recognize after several years of Steve Colman’s teaching.
Judy Markowsky 989-2591