October 2017

Vol. 45, No. 5

Musings from the Blind Birder: Songs of the Season

Martha Steele

The New England autumn has always been my favorite season, with refreshing and crisp air replacing the stifling heat and humidity of the summer, a kaleidoscope of colors unfolding across the landscape, and the ability to enjoy the outdoors without annoying insects. As a blind birder, autumn has become a bit more bittersweet, as it marks the transition between the songs of the spring and summer to the silence of the winter.

For the most part, late fall and winter birding is largely a visual experience. Seabirds, such as King Eiders and Harlequin Ducks, become frequent targets of birders shivering in the cold offshore winds. We hope for a possible irruption of northern species to bring such delights as Red and White-winged crossbills, Pine Siskins, Bohemian Waxwings, and Pine Grosbeaks. The uncommon or rare land bird will bring hordes of birders to its location. At this point, I can only take vicarious pleasure at hearing about these birds as they say little or nothing at all. I certainly remember how beautiful our winter birds are and I will never forget the many extraordinary encounters with such notable species as the Northern Hawk Owl flying low over my head, the irruption of Great Grey Owls in Montreal, Pine Grosbeaks at our Vermont feeder, and Bohemian Waxwings dotting a winter fruit tree.

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