Words On Birds by Steve Grinley

Area Birding Activities for the Whole Family
February 05, 2011
By Steve Grinley

     The football Superbowl may be this weekend, but the REAL Superbowl, the Superbowl of Birding, was held last Saturday. Teams of four to seven members spent twelve hours, 5 am to 5 pm, in Essex and/or Rockingham Counties to try to find as many bird species as possible. Each bird was worth one to five points depending on its relative rarity. Prizes were awarded in various categories for points, number of species, or number of life birds for young participants.

     Unlike most past Superbowl days when bitter cold, wind, or snow prevailed, this year’s event was a rare, ideal winter New England day with sunshine, temperatures in the thirties, and no wind. Winning the coveted Joppa Cup were the Burger Kinglets with 185 accumulated points. The Director’s Award for high species total went to the 4th and Longspurs. The Essex County Excels Award went to the Return of the Great Auks and the Rockingham County Rocks Award went to the Flocking Bustards.

     The Sitting Ducks Award (most points by a team staying in one spot) went, appropriately to the Joppa Sitting Ducks. A new award this year, the Fledgling Award went to the Pennsylvania Coal Tits who had at least 2 young members and found 24 out of 25 designated birds. The Lifer Award went to Tony Cristiano who saw 30 new birds on his Unflappables team.

     The team names indicate that this is a fun day in the field. There was talk later that maybe there should be an award for the team with the best name. It would be a tough choice as there were so many. Some of my favorites were the Fly by Nights, Glassy-eyedbis, Not –So-Old-Squaws, Twitchers in the Rye, and Alcid Reflux. The names do add to the fun! Thanks go to Mass Audubon Joppa Flats for hosting this event for the eighth year.

     Another Mass Audubon Event is happening this weekend and you can participate! The annual Focus on Feeders weekend is this Saturday and Sunday. Participating is easy as all you need to do is count the highest number of each bird species seen at any one time in your backyard and at your feeders. You can report your sightings online or on a form that you can mail to Mass Audubon. Everyone who reports their observations are entered into a drawing to win prizes. The more sighting that are submitted, the more data will be accumulated to learn more about our wintering bird populations here in Massachusetts.

     There is also a photo contest where you can submit your photos along with your bird reports. Prizes are also awarded in several categories for photos submitted. Details of the contest, as well as forms for submitting your observations may be found at http://www.massaudubon.org/Birds_and_Birding/FoF.

     Next weekend is yet another event hosted by Mass Audubon’s Joppa Flats Education Center along with the Parker River National Wildlife Refuge. The Merrimack River Wildlife Festival is Saturday, February 12th and it is a day of free activities and your chance to see bald eagles and other raptors. You can visit designated spots along the river where naturalists will show you bald eagles. You can go on a free eagle tour, recommended for adults and children age 6 and over, that leaves from Newburyport Chamber of Commerce. I’ll be leading one of these many bus tours, and reservations are required by calling 978-462-9998.

     Tom Ricardi of the Massachusetts Bird of Prey Rehabilitation Facility presents two free educational programs for all ages at Newburyport’s City Hall featuring live raptors. First come, first served for the morning and afternoon sessions. For a $10 donation to the Eagle Festival, you and your family can pose for a photo with a raptor.at Newburyport City Hall at 11:15-11:45 or 12:30-1:00. The photo session is limited and advanced registration is recommended (978-462-9998.)

     Family fun activities also take place at Mass Audubon’s Joppa Flats Education Center and at the Parker River National Wildlife Refuge Headquarters. At Joppa Flats you can make an eagle nest and play nature games! Hawks from Mass Audubon’s Drumlin Farm will be there from 11:00 to 3:00. At the Refuge headquarters, you make an eagle button or dissect an owl pellet! Henry Lappen will use masks, comedy, and audience participation to present “A Passion for Birds,” 12:00 to 1:00.

     More information may be found at http://www.massaudubon.org/Nature_Connection/Sanctuaries/Joppa_Flats. On Saturday, Eagle Festival information will be available at Mass Audubon’s Joppa Flats Education Center, 1 Plum Island Turnpike, Newburyport, 978-462-9998, at the Parker River National Wildlife Refuge Headquarters, 6 Plum Island Turnpike, Newburyport, 978-465-5753, at the Newburyport Chamber of Commerce, 38R Merrimac Street, Newburyport, 978-462-6680 and at Newburyport City Hall, 60 Pleasant Street, Newburyport

     Plan to be in Newburyport on February 12th for a full day of activities celebrating the return of our Bald Eagles!

Steve Grinley
Bird Watcher’s Supply & Gift
Route 1 Traffic Circle
194 Route 1
Newburyport, MA 01950
Celebrating 2
4 years of service to the birding community! 
Like us on Facebook! www.facebook.com/birdwatcherssupply