It has been a rather unusual fall here in the Poconos. It has affected all aspects of my community’s familiar routines, including the first time cancelations of the annual Halloween Parade and project owlnet. Although we were unable to get into the woods to conduct our annual saw-whet owl banding we kept our commitments to the Barrett Friendly Community Center and led a few Saturday morning bird walks. It was during the latest of these walks that reaffirmed my love of birding.
The BFCC is located in the old library building built in the 1920’s across route 191 from the Mountainhome Methodist Church. Behind the library is a cemetery. Our Saturday morning walks begin at the community center and amble leisurely through the cemetery.
Jackie and I begin each walk with a short discussion on binoculars and field guides. We bring binoculars for those who may need them and share our experience on how to locate birds and get them in the binoculars field of view. This past Saturday we were joined by 6 people who had rarely if ever taken the time to do any birding, but they were eager to find out more about it and we were happy to oblige. With the foliage down from most of the trees it should be easier to find birds in the mature old trees of the cemetery.
Nuthatches were the early hit of the group as they made their way up and down the tree trunks, yank-yanking all the way. The high pitched ascending call of the goldfinches caught our attention and the dazzling blue plumage of the jay against the dark green spruce was breath taking but all were outdone by the ravens.
We had just gotten to the farthest corner of the cemetery when Jackie said “look up.” There against the crisp blue autumnal sky were 2 large black birds soaring. It was obvious they were together as a pair. They alternated between soaring in unison and deliberately cutting each other off when one of the group remarked that it looked as though they were playing. I recounted our time at the Grand Canyon and the fun we had with the ravens out west.
The return of the Osprey and bald Eagle are well documented and rejoiced. We can rightfully take pride in humanities efforts to stave off extinction for these glorious birds but for me the return of the ravens is even more dramatic. There was no massive effort by federal, state and nonprofit groups to ensure their survival and yet here they are. It was not that long ago that the sighting of a raven in the Poconos was a rarity. Now they can be seen by a small group of friends behind the Barrett Friendly Community Center. It is mornings like this, sharing an intimate experience with a pair of ravens that make me glad to be a birder.