Close encounters

Whether you are an avid birder who loves to rise at the crack of dawn to crash around through sodden bracken or a backyard birder who appreciates the avian sights from your Adirondack chair, this weekend offers a flock of potential feathered sightings.
Virginia is filled with an impressive array of birds, some local and some transplanted, that find our flora and fauna particularly delectable. Each spring brings with it the hope of new species and old stand-bys returning to make nests, raise their young, and do whatever it is birds do in our vicinity.
    Wintergreen’s Dan Bieker offers an entire weekend of bird study. This hands-on and ears-on event is an exploration of habitat preferences, feeding, nesting, and singing behaviors. Field trips will focus on observation and identification by sight and song.
    Ivy Creek Natural Area hosts its First Saturday Bird Walk May 4. Join John Zimmerman of the Monticello Bird Club at the peak of spring warbler migration.
    Learn the basics of bird identification at Monticello and explore another variety of habitats in their three-hour interpretive walk during the spring migratory season. This is considered a rigorous hike, so wear appropriate shoes and bring binoculars.
    And finally, Montpelier conducts its own “early bird” walk, led by Jim Nix and George Harris of the Monticello Bird Club. The walk traverses some of the unspoiled and varied habitats on Montpelier’s 2,700 acres. The estate includes woodlands, wetlands, creek beds, pastures, and meadows, and the 200-acre old-growth Landmark Forest. Nix and Harris have been working on a comprehensive bird inventory for the Montpelier estate. They expect the grounds to be alive with both the resident birds and some less-common migrants.
    So, it’s a bird season. If getting up early on a weekend morning doesn’t make you groan and roll over, then the opportunity to “get the worm” has arrived. Maybe you’ll catch a glimpse of the richly hued indigo bunting or watch the playful antics of a group of cedar waxwings. No doubt about it: if you go outside, you will get caught up in Virginia’s unique spring fever.

Wintergreen’s weekend of bird study costs $90 and takes place at Trillium House May 4-5. Pre-registration secures a place. Route 151 in Nellysford. 434-325-7451. First Saturday Bird Walk at Ivy Creek begins 7.30am on May 4. Meet in the parking lot. Free. Beginners welcome. Route 743 (Earlysville Road). 434-973-7772. Monticello’s Tufton Farm is the starting point for their bird walk at 6.30am sharp on May 4. $10. Route 732. 434-984-9896. Montpelier’s bird walk starts at 7.30am. $5– reservations required. Route 20. 540-672-0017

Read more on: bird study