66 bird types found in volunteer-led bird walks throughout the National Heritage Corridor
Whitinsville, MA (June 30, 2017) – It was a spring like no other, thanks to a few passionate volunteers from Blackstone Heritage Corridor, Inc. (BHC). Three avid birders came together to lead a series of nine bird walks between April and June during which 66 different varieties of birds were identified between Uxbridge, MA, and Pawtucket, RI. The weekend bird walks attracted over 80 participants on the adventures through lush bird habitats including Blackstone River & Canal Heritage State Park in Uxbridge, West Hill Park in Northbridge, MA, the Blackstone River Greenway in Blackstone, MA, Blackstone River State Park in Lincoln, RI, and the Ten Mile River Greenway in Pawtucket, RI. To celebrate and recognize this new volunteer activity in a special way, BHC hosted a festive “Flock Party” at the end of June, inviting participants to hear presentations from the volunteer guides recapping the season’s findings.
The bird walks were led by BHC’s Volunteers-in-Parks program members Rosanne Sherry of N. Smithfield, RI, and Beth and Paul Milke of Uxbridge, MA. The three of them met during a bird walk program last fall and the trio continue to collaborate on birding activities throughout the year. Word flew out about their adventures and they were invited on Upton Cable Television’s “Be My Guest” show in April.
“I always thought it was about bird watching,” Ryan Whetsone, a bird walk participant shared. “But it’s really about bird listening. I could go for a walk by myself and maybe see a bird, or not. But on these walks you are with over 20 pairs of eyes and you see and hear things you’d miss if you were by yourself. These volunteer guides are experts at recognizing the bird calls.”
Beth Milke was charmed by Whetstone’s feedback on the program. “Paul and I remember how exciting it was to learn about birds–how many different kinds there are, what their songs are like, where to find them–from a terrific birder, Strickland Wheelock of Uxbridge,” she shared. “His enthusiasm rubbed off on us, and we’ve had so much fun sharing the experience with those who joined us for the bird walks.”
The types of birds identified on the walks include:
Canada Goose, Mallard, Great Blue Heron, Mute Swan, Osprey, Cooper’s Hawk, Red-tailed Hawk, Killdeer, American Woodcock, Turkey Vulture, Black Vulture, Mourning Dove, Yellow-billed Cuckoo, Chimney Swift, Downy Woodpecker, Red-bellied Woodpecker, Northern Flicker, Great-crested Flycatcher, Eastern Kingbird, Eastern Wood Pewee, Eastern Phoebe, Rough-winged Swallow, Tree Swallow, Blue Jay, American Crow, Common Raven, Tufted Titmouse, Black capped Chickadee, White-breasted Nuthatch, Carolina Wren, Gray Catbird, Wood Thrush, American Robin, Eastern Bluebird, Blue Gray Gnatcatcher, Cedar Waxwing, European Starling, Warbling Vireo, Yellow-throated Vireo, White-eyed Vireo, Red-eyed Vireo, Blue winged Warbler, Yellow Warbler, Chestnut-sided Warbler, Pine Warbler, Prairie Warbler, American Redstart, Yellow-rumped Warbler, Black and White Warbler, Common Yellowthroat, Red-winged Blackbird, Brown-headed Cowbird, Baltimore Oriole, Orchard Oriole, Common Grackle, Scarlet Tanager , Rose-breasted Grosbeak, Northern Cardinal, Indigo Bunting, American Goldfinch, Eastern Towhee, House Finch, Song Sparrow, Field Sparrow, Chipping Sparrow, and House Sparrow.
“A special sighting for me was watching an Eastern Wood Pewee, a type of Flycatcher, literally going to the four corners of its territory and calling,” Sherry noted. “Its territory may only have been about 200 feet by 100 feet, but the Pewee was vigorously declaring it.”
More bird walks are planned for BHC’s GO! program this September. VIPs Beth and Paul Milke will lead walks at: Blackstone River State Park in Lincoln, RI, on September 2; Blackstone River & Canal Heritage State Park in Uxbridge, MA, on September 16; and at West Hill Park in Northbridge, MA, on September 30. Participants will be watching for birds preparing to migrate south, where they find food during winter. All walks will be on Saturdays from 8:00 a.m. to 10:00 a.m. with rain dates the following day. Pre-register at BlackstoneBirdsMA@gmail.com.