For the Birds: A Morning Bird Walk at Sharon Audubon

As we emerge from the long quarantine and seek refuge in our region's beautiful natural environment, Noble Horizons is proud to feature Caleb May, a rising senior at Salisbury School, who will help us discover the area's nature preserves, parks, forests, and trails. Using videos and brief essays, Caleb will offer a welcome respite and tantalizing ideas for exploration.

Caleb takes special interest in the winged wonders of the tristate area and throughout the summer, you can join Caleb as he visits a different birding location each week. In his weekly blog series dedicated to birds and their habitat, he will report on the wide variety of avian species that make this region so great for birding. He will provide a colorful and melodic series on our winged neighbors who are an integral and threatened part of our natural environment.

He first discovered his love for birding at the age of seven when a Black-capped Chickadee locked eyes with him from close range while filling his bird feeder. Since then he has gone on many citizen science bird walks and volunteered as an animal rehabilitator for Sharon Audubon Center, and recently became a freelance writer on the subject for Main Street Magazine. May is also an avid fisherman and soccer fan.

For the Birds: A Morning Bird Walk at Sharon Audubon

By Caleb J. May

It was a beautiful, cool June morning when I arrived at the Sharon Audubon at 7:30 a.m. I hopped out of the car and listened to the sweet melodic songs of Red-eyed Vireos and Veeries that often lead the morning orchestra.

I am going on a bird walk, something that I have done since I was seven but have really gotten into it in the past few months due to the extra free time.

There is something quite beautiful about birding. Author Jonathan Franzen once said, “Birds are our last readily available connection to the wildness around us.” He is absolutely right. There is no other piece of wilderness that is as accessible and recognizable as birds. They are quite simply everywhere.

Whenever I start a bird walk I often begin listening for any birds in the area. In my experience, birds are something that can easily go unnoticed until you begin actively listening and looking for them and a whole hidden world emerges that wasn’t there a moment before.

I walked by the Maple Sugar shack and up to the pond overlook where I saw a Canada Goose and its goslings in addition to a Baltimore Oriole and a singing Rose-breasted Grosbeak. (The Grosbeak has one of the most beautiful songs, in my opinion.) My mom and I continued along the trail towards Bog Meadow Pond while observing a variety of woodpeckers including and Yellow-bellied Sapsucker and the rather large Pileated Woodpecker. A little while later the pond appeared as well as a variety of new bird species.

Spring migration is over and many of the birds that make their way through from the tropics are now in the northern boreal forests. However, some stay to raise their families. My mom and I spotted some of the highlights of migration season: The Warblers. They are colorful and active five-inch songbirds that mostly spend their time high in the tree canopy.

A five-minute wait by the pond produced a Chestnut-sided Warbler, Yellow Warbler, Swamp Sparrow, and five Cedar Waxwings (my mom’s personal favorite). Several minutes later and the highlight of the trip was heard from the trees, a Yellow-billed Cuckoo. That is one of the exact reasons that I bird. I will always get the regular 20 species each time: American Robin, Black-capped Chickadee, Northern Cardinal, etc. but the rest is literally up in the air. I never know what I will encounter on my walks because there is just so much variety in the trees and shrubs of Connecticut. The suspense keeps it interesting.

In total, I finished the one-hour walk with around 35 species. Not a bad day at all. Birding is an activity that calms me down and makes me feel at peace in the wilderness which is something we all need a little of in these confusing times. You can bird anytime and anywhere, from a window, in the woods, at the lake, and still see an amazing variety of birds to spice up your day.

Happy birding!

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