Birds Come Out to Model at George Washington’s Birthplace

On Monday, June 4th, a group of fourteen bird enthusiasts gathered at George Washington Birthplace National Monument for a bird walk led by author and wildlife expert, Joe LaFleur.  LaFleur holds a bachelor’s degree in wildlife biology and a master’s degree in communication from Colorado State University.  For the past twenty years he has been collecting bird footage of the calls of various bird breeds.  The past month, he has been touring the east coast, leading bird walks at various parks along the way to help generate an interest in bird watching.

He started the tour with an audio-visual presentation of bird breeds that are prevalent in the Tidewater area and thus might possibly be spotted on the walk through the park grounds.  As the footage played, Lafleur discussed the birds’ markings, calls, and habitats so that the group could better identify and differentiate the breeds.  Some of the breeds discussed included the Great Blue Heron, Wood Duck, Red Bellied Woodpecker, and a variety of sparrows, finches, and swallows.

After the film and a brief Q&A session, the group gathered their cameras and binoculars and headed outside to begin the walk.  No sooner than the group had exited the building, an Osprey soared overhead to her nest on a nearby buoy.  Lafleur took this opportunity to identify some key areas that are good to search for bird activity, such as buoys where fish may be swimming below.  Upon further inspection of the buoys and neighboring water woodlands, a pair of Bald Eagles was spotted.  A park ranger along for the walk informed the group that the mates are nesting on the park grounds.

The group carried on in cheerful discussion amongst themselves as to which birds eat up their cherries, and better yet, their mosquitoes, until everyone fell silent with the realization that a Great Blue Heron was within feet of the group!  It was difficult to tear the crowd away from such a regal creature, but LaFleur urged them along assuring them there was much more to be seen.  Excited chatter arose when LaFleur announced that he heard the call of an Indigo Bunting.  At long last, a member of the group finally spotted the bright blue of the juvenile Bunting among the water reeds.  LaFleur continued his discussion on which times of the day certain breeds are most active, but stopped mid-sentence to declare his sighting of a Carolina Wren.  The group pulled out their binoculars in unison but spotted not only the Carolina Wren, but also a Spotted Brown Thrasher chasing it away from his territory with a threatening smacking sound.

The band of birdwatchers marveled at the variety of bird types found in the area and a park ranger noted, “Of all the parks I’ve worked in, I would say this one is the most bird rich.”  As the sunlight got brighter, the whistling, calling, and chattering of the birds got louder.  The birds appeared to be getting cheerier too as a little yellow finch came out on a branch and practically modeled for the group.  In character, a pair of Barn Swallows had nested in the craft barn at the park and were feeding their newly hatched nestlings.

Near the end of the walk, the group puzzled over the call of a bird they were hearing but couldn’t see anywhere around.  Upon catching the flash of white on the wings of a mockingbird, the master of imitating various sounds and other bird calls, the mystery was solved, and the tour concluded.

 

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Comments
2 Responses to “Birds Come Out to Model at George Washington’s Birthplace”
  1. theecvt says:

    This is a great story! It’s refreshing to see events shared online!

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