Birds Along The Lake

Yellow-rumped warblers like this one were seen on four of LCC’s five May bird walks. Photo by Marc Faucher.

May is always a wonderful month for bird-watching along Lake Champlain. Migrants stream along the shores and wetlands as they wing their way to breeding grounds in the region and points north. To take advantage of the season (and to get some spring outdoor time) for the past several years LCC has led a series of Friday morning bird walks at Burlington's Oakledge Park, just down the road from our office. LCC Staff Scientist Mike Winslow, an avid birder with a keen eye and ear, led participants on weekly morning rambles through the park. Over the course of five weeks the group spotted 50 species with between 26 and 30 species in any given week.

Repeated visits to the same site with an experienced birder helped participants gradually learn to identify common bird songs: like the peter, peter, peter of the Tufted Titmouse or the Cheer Cheer Cheer Wit-wit-wit-wit-wit of the Northern Cardinal. The park setting allowed good viewing opportunities without an overwhelming chorus of different species. Familiarity also enabled participants to track the progress of two nests found along the path: a European Starling’s and a White-breasted Nuthatch’s.

Ten species were found all five weeks: Double-crested Cormorant, Hairy Woodpecker, American Crow, Black-capped Chickadee, White-breasted Nuthatch, American Robin, European Starling, Pine Warbler, Northern Cardinal, and Common Grackle.

Fifteen species were only noted once: Canada Goose, Common Loon, Caspian Tern, Yellow-bellied Sapsucker, Red-bellied Woodpecker, Pileated Woodpecker, Blue-headed Vireo, Warbling Vireo, Black and White Warbler, Common Yellowthroat, American Redstart, Magnolia Warbler, Scarlet Tanager, Red-winged Blackbird, and Brown-headed Cowbird.

During the summer bird's concentrate on raising young and gorging for autumn migration. Bird songs become less prevalant as the season progresses. Then come August migration begins anew this time heading south. LCC will host the walks again next May. Mark your calendars now.