A Late Spring Guided Bird Walk with Bob Engel

Saturday's guided bird walk led by Bob Engel, who taught at Marlboro College for 36 years within the Biology and Environmental Science department, was a success with many warblers and other songbirds spotted.

To birders looking to take their morning walks to the next level, Engel recommended IBird Pro and showcased during the walk its ability to stand in as a very small and very useful portable field guide for those naturalists that are techie-minded. 

The app features the recordings of U.S. birds' songs, sometimes from several different birders. Engel explained that the app's value lies in the opportunity it gives birders to take what they hear out in the field and on their walks and compare it with other recordings within the app. Your guess of a bird's identification by its song becomes less of a hunch and more of a sure bet when you can stack it up against the validated recordings.

It's also possible to use the app to play calls that can encourage and attract the birds to share their voice. Engel cautioned, "This is a rude thing to do, it drives the little guy crazy. But, if not done much, it can result in his inspecting the new male (us, in this case) who had the audacity of intruding on his territory."

Saturday's group heard some lovely chirps and songs, but they also caught a look at several beautiful birds. Engel reported back:

We spotted several warblers, especially Black-throated blue warbler and Yellowthroat. The former is rarely coaxed down from the tops of tall trees. We did really well with other warblers, most of us learning or relearning the songs of Black and White warbler, Chestnut-sided warbler, and Blackburnian warbler. We also had a ragged Cooper’s hawk fly overhead…not a frequent thing to see at all. It’s a bird-eating hawk.

Along the way the group took in the beauty of late spring—flowers, ferns, and other plants were worth the walk alone. Several of the group members even hugged a beech tree.

From the sounds of it, it was a lovely time!

Engel writes a monthly column for us here at The Nature Museum; catch up on his recent writings here