Calling all birders and nature enthusiasts: Norwich Year of the Bird is underway! Spearheaded by the Vermont Center for Ecostudies (VCE), this informal (but serious) challenge beckons all birders – experts and novices, professionals and amateurs, from near and far—to explore the avian diversity of Norwich, get outdoors, learn about birds, share the thrill of discovery, and have a little fun along the way.
Here’s the challenge: can we document 175 species within the town’s borders during 2019? The answer is an unequivocal yes, but it will require a concerted effort by many, attainable only through an abundance of good luck and diligent reporting practices. As of this writing (February 4), the tally stands at a respectable 40 species, highlighted by winter nomads from Canada like Bohemian Waxwings and Pine Grosbeaks.
Chris Rimmer and volunteer birders conducting the annual Hanover-Norwich Christmas Bird Count
Why Norwich? Well, why not? Many birders frequent the town (and a few live here), regularly scouring its forests, thickets, fields, wetlands, and waterways. And, lying along the Connecticut River, Norwich attracts a multitude of migratory species, many of which are simply passing through and stopping to rest or refuel during their spring and fall migrations. Who knew that Vermont’s first-ever record of Marbled Godwit, a spectacular long-distance migrant shorebird, would come from Norwich? Or that Tundra Swans, Glossy Ibis, White-eyed Vireos, and even a Golden-crowned Sparrow have been found in town? What other avian surprises await discovery??
Because keeping careful track of yearlong sightings throughout Norwich will be critical to know where we stand, we’ll use Vermont eBird, a real-time, online checklist program that has revolutionized how the birding community reports and accesses information about birds. To be clear, the data amassed by eBird aren’t just for fun. They contribute hugely to science and conservation.
How exactly do birders contribute their sightings to Norwich 2019 Year of the Bird? It couldn’t be easier. Just visit www.vtecostudies.org/blog/2019-norwich-
year-of-the-bird/ to get all the details, see photos, follow links, and sign up for Vermont eBird.
VCE will offer a hands-on eBird workshop or two during the months ahead, so don’t fear if this checklist tool doesn’t immediately make sense to you. To make it even more fun, we’ll feature a different “target species” each month and encourage everyone to find it. We’ll also offer periodic outings to various birding “hotspots” in Norwich, and/or excursions to see especially exciting birds that have been found. Grab your binoculars and field guide, and start keeping track of what you see in town. Every bird counts!