The Art of Birding: Taking to the Trails of the Clark Art Institute

This week’s blog took me away from the hiking trails of Connecticut and into Massachusetts where I explored the birds of our neighboring state. The first location on the list is an unexpected one. My mom and I ventured to the Clark Art Institute, not to look at the best the art world has to offer, but instead to find out what kind of feathered friends inhabit its extensive 140-acre grounds. In the end we did not see many bird species, but the Clark Art Institute still houses some amazing trails that are maintained to the highest standard.

After getting out of the car, some birds were already making themselves known to us. American Robins and European Starlings strolled on the grass looking for morsels of food. We were about ready to move onto the trails but something caught my eye that stood out against the common ground feeders. A quick look through my binoculars and I saw a tan bird with sleek feathers, striking black markings, and beautiful red spots on the head. I immediately recognized it as a Northern Flicker, a type of woodpecker often seen on the ground. My suspicions were only solidified when the bird flew away and showed us a white rump patch.

We walked farther towards the cow pasture where I was able to see more common birds such as Red-winged Blackbirds, Veerys, and Cedar Waxwings. We didn’t see any cowbirds, but there were several cows lazily grazing in the pasture. My mom then looked to the sky and was able to see a Turkey Vulture flying high in the clouds searching for food.

As we made our way into the woods the unmistakable song of the Song Sparrow rang out and made itself known to us. This was right around the time when our bird walk was given a serious purpose. A masked man with his dog pointed out that he had seen juvenile Barred Owls down a stretch of woods. My mom and I lit up when we heard this and began an all-out search for these elusive birds. Unfortunately, it was not to be.

Blue Jays sang rather noisily which almost drowned out one of the highlights of the trip. Through the rather loud jays I was able to hear what, in my opinion, is the most beautiful bird song in the world. It is the ethereal and metallic song of the Wood Thrush. I never got to see it but the sound was enough. In the same patch of woods, I was able to see Black-capped Chickadees, Hairy Woodpeckers, and Ovenbirds just to name a few. I was able to finish with 21 confirmed species. Be sure to come check out the trails and museum, which reopens on July 12th.

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