After a week of watching birds with my Folk School class, I have this (“Old Sam, Peabody, Peabody”) and several other mnemonics to remember bird calls racing through my head. Well, more like stuffed in and tumbling out as I try not to forget it all. In just 4 and a half days, we saw and heard over 60 species of birds. For a beginner, that’s a lot.
This year, the class was held a little earlier than in past years, and quite frankly, I’m glad. The leaves on most trees hadn’t flushed out yet, and for me, it made finding the birds a lot easier with the binoculars. Many of the birds were extremely cooperative – big thanks to the Tree Swallow, the Prairie Warbler, the Black-and-White Warbler, the Hooded Warbler, the Common Yellowthroat, and so many others for staying still – for just a moment – long enough to get a really good look. And thanks to the others that perched and sang at the same time. What an amazing way to to associate a bird with its song!
What struck me the most over the week was the stunning beauty of each bird when you got to actually stop and look at it – and recognize its black throat, or see its white wingbars, or its red crest. Aside from “There it is! There it goes…,” the most common phrase I heard (and exclaimed myself) during the week was “It’s so beautiful!”
Our wonderfully knowledgeable and fun instructors already thanked the birds for participating in our class, but in honor of Earth Day, I’d like to say it again. Nature Studies classes are a little different than other classes at the Folk School in that the “classroom” is mainly outside, but what I’m taking away is no different than any craft class I’ve been in. I have been inspired; I have learned; I have interacted with wonderful people; and I have left with a skill that I will continue on my own.
By the way, “Old Sam, peabody, peabody” is what the White-throated Sparrow says. We saw this lovely brown and white bird on the Rivercane Walk at the Folk School, singing its little heart out, just for us.