‘What’s good for the birds is good for us’: PG County celebrates avian migration

By Zachary Jablow and Jason Fontelieu
Staff Writers

Chimney swifts were the hit of the Mi Casa Es Su Casa migration celebration at Lake Artemesia Park on Saturday.

“Chimney Swifts are flying overhead,” someone shouted. A crowd of about 20 turned their heads skyward, following a flock of small, cigar-like birds.

For Prince George Audubon Society President Kenneth Cohen, chimney swifts brought him a significant moment. Earlier in the day, for the first time in more than 50 years of bird watching, he saw a flock of around 75 chimney swifts come down and remove insects from a lake.

“In birdwatching, every day is different,” said Cohen, 76. “Every season is different.”

A great blue heron at Lake Artemsia (Julia Nikhinson/The Diamondback)

The sixth annual festival, organized by the Prince George’s Audubon Society, was organized to promote environmental conservation and celebrate the migration of different species of birds that pass through the region en route to South America and America central.

Tents were set up along part of the trail in Berwyn Heights Park, with joggers and cyclists among those stopping to try bird seed samples or browse nature magazines. There was also a morning walk for birdwatchers of all skill levels, as well as an arts and crafts area for kids. The second half of the day featured a ‘flight party’ at the nearby College Park Aviation Museum.

Manning the monarch butterfly tent, Lisa Garrett, event coordinator and vice-president of the Prince George’s Audubon Society, was quick to notice that butterflies also migrate during this season.

“What could be better for an ornithologist [than] organize an outdoor event where we can watch birds and talk to people about birds?Garrett said, sporting orange butterfly earrings.

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A dry-erase board kept track in brown marker of the birds that had been spotted throughout the day. There was some excitement around adding species like the Pied-billed Grebe or warblers like the Common Yellowthroat.

“A redstart just flew from that bush over there into that bush over there,” one birder noted, referring to the brightly colored, medium-sized warbler species.

“Okay, well, add it to our list,” was the response from a mildly enthusiastic Cohen.

Cohen compared her love for birdwatching with Martina Navratilova’s love of tennis. According to Cohen, journalist Bud Collins asked her how she remained interested in acting.

A barred owl takes flight (Julia Nikhinson/The Diamondback)
A barred owl takes flight (Julia Nikhinson/The Diamondback)

“She looked him straight in the eye and without wasting a moment she said, ‘The ball never goes over the net the same way twice,'” Cohen said, a caterpillar painted on his face. by her 12-year-old granddaughter. , Elijah.

Another highlight of the day was the Raptor Show presented by the Watkins Nature Center. Park naturalist Paula McNeill showed a small crowd an array of live birds of prey, such as a red-tailed, broad-winged hawk and a barred owl.

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Lake Artemesia is one of the hotspots for bird watching in the region. At ebird.org, a website run by the Cornell Lab of Ornithology, birders can post checklists of birds they are able to identify, contributing to data used in ornithological and ecological research.

According to the site, where more than 2,200 checklists have been submitted to Lake Artemesia, 215 bird species have been recorded at and around the lake. The fall season attracts birdwatchers hoping to spot migrating warblers and other species not in the area year-round.

And this year is particularly important for the birding community. As The Washington Post reports, a new study published last week reported that bird populations in the United States and Canada have declined by 29% since 1970. That equates to a loss of nearly 3 billion birds. during this 50 year period.

Garrett emphasized that conservation was at the forefront of the event. She noted that today’s older generations fought for the success of the environmental regulations of the 1970s, and now young people must continue to fight to preserve the environment for humans and birds.

“What’s good for the birds is good for us,” Garrett said.

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