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September 19, 2023

Paula Campbell
Posted 9/19/23

When the children in our family were little kiddos, we always did the Great American Bird Count and the Christmas Bird count. They would sit in the kitchen looking out of the storm door at the bird …

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September 19, 2023


When the children in our family were little kiddos, we always did the Great American Bird Count and the Christmas Bird count. They would sit in the kitchen looking out of the storm door at the bird feeders with the survey sheets in hand drinking cocoa and identifying and keeping track of every bird they saw. Later in their lives while in college both took ornithology courses and now as adults, they know so much more than I do about birding. Recently Lily and I took a stroll down River Road and she was constantly pointing out various birds and identifying many unseen bird calls. So, a family activity to keep the youngins busy has turned into a lifelong passion for which I am grateful. Everyone knows that birds migrate at this time of year but until I found out about the fantastic BirdCast app, I never had any scientific information about the migration by employing real time analysis of the migration traffic as detected by radar. The app also features a migration dashboard that lets you explore the overnight migration data in your local region. For instance, last night from sunset to sunrise two million two hundred sixty-two thousand six hundred birds flew over Sullivan County traveling at an average speed of forty-three miles an hour and at an altitude of three thousand feet. Of course, the app was developed by Cornell Lab for Ornithology. Cornell also has a free bird identification app call The Merlin Bird ID with a new bird call sound ID feature. 

I found out about the BirdCast because I got a Facebook message from my neighbor Christine Martin with a flyer about “Lights Out”. It is a public education program sponsored by TRACY Aviary and Botanical Gardens in Utah that encourages the public to shut off all outside lights and pull    your window drapes from September 6th through October 6th to help migrating birds not to get disoriented during the nighttime peak migration period causing them to veer into buildings or stray from the correct migration route happening right now in our northeast region. Birds can gain additional assistance by having native plants, shrubs, bushes, and trees available on the migration routes that make great perches for resting. Flowers provide energy for hummingbirds and attract insects, a great source of energy for hungry and tired birds. Birds retreat to trees and bushes as protection from predators and to rest and roost, and directly or indirectly plants provide all the food that birds eat. Plants native to an area are much more adaptive to the local climate, require less water and help prevent more erosion than non-native plants. Yes, it’s a true miracle that nature’s cycle supports the continuing circle of ecology. Every spring and fall billions of birds will migrate through the US, mostly under the cover of darkness and the mass movement of birds must contend with a dramatically increasing threat: light pollution. Building collisions and particularly collisions with windows are a major anthropogenic threat to birds, with a rough estimate of between one hundred million and one billion birds killed annually in the US. By taking just a little time to flip a light switch or pull down your window blinds some seemingly small actions can have a big impact on the migrating birds this spring. The BirdCast app can be downloaded from Google Play. 

I was delighted to learn the local musician, writer, radio host and author Mike Edison of Barryville will be performing at Bethel Woods Center For The Arts. The show is part of Mike’s Righteous American Music- “Gospel From the Garage Tour”. The event will also feature a performance by Los Angeles based musical artist, GracieHorse of Wharf Cat Records and her “Cosmic Country.” The concert is free and is on Wednesday, September 20th from 6-9pm at the Museum at Bethel Woods. For more information go to bethelwoodscenter.org.


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