White Memorial Conservation Center: Birding Made Easy

By Caleb J. May

It was a calm but cloudy morning as I stepped out of the car in White Memorial Conservation Center. It is one of the most biodiverse places in Connecticut and a beautiful setting to experience many birds.

Intermittent thunder rumbled in the distance as my mom and I made our way into the dense mixed forest. White Memorial is particularly great for both hiking and birding because of the relative ease of use; flat, well-marked trails make it easy to get around. Another plus of White Memorial are the wide trails which are made possible by the fact that some of their trails are old roads. This means social distancing is a breeze on the right trail.

The day started off slowly with a load of Veerys singing in the distance mixed in with various passerines (songbirds) like chickadees and goldfinches. Venturing further and walking parallel to the marsh proved to be fruitful as several more species came into view. Common Yellowthroats, Black-and-white Warblers, Northern Cardinals, and Northern Flickers also dropped by providing some contrast against the green foliage.

The highlight of the trip came farther down the trail as the White-breasted Nuthatch’s more elusive cousin, the Red-breasted Nuthatch, made an appearance. It is often a hard bird to spot and it is only my second time seeing it. They are wonderful, cute little birds with blue-gray wings, black eyebrows, and red breast. For my mom, it was one of her new life list birds. A life list is a compilation of all the different bird species you see. It is a great way to make birding into a collecting hobby.

Another highlight took place nearby to the nuthatch sighting. We stumbled upon the nest of a Yellow-bellied Sapsucker. It is a very cool experience to find a nest. Even though we are not able to see the babies we could still get an inside glimpse into how life as a bird works. The parent will fly off and leave the babies only to return with life-sustaining food. The parent, most likely the female, returns to a chorus of chirps from the babies.

As we moved farther along we got more than we bargained for as we spotted a large deer on the opposite side of the stream. I said in my last post that you never know what bird you are going to see. That also goes for other forms of wildlife. On any given bird walk I can see beavers, turtles, frogs, mammals, and snakes and I appreciate every bit of it.

It is mind-boggling to think that all of these species, so different and so diverse, are sharing the same place and coexisting (for the most part). We finished the bird walk with the beautiful song of the Wood Thrush, one of the 27 species we saw on the one hour hike.

After leaving the beautiful sanctuary we headed over to the Ripley Waterfowl Conservancy where they do important work to help breed and preserve endangered, rare, and exotic waterfowl from all over the world. It is an amazing place.

Tune in next time for another birding location!


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