Out & About: In Norwich This Week, It’s All About the Birds

  • This beaded cloisonne bird from Hong Kong will be on display as part of Norwich Bird Week.

  • This carving made by a member of the Kamba ethnic group in east Africa will be on display as part of Norwich Bird Week.

  • Chris Rimmer, executive director of the Vermont Center for Ecostudies, will lead a bird-banding demonstration and bird walks as part of Norwich Bird Week.

Saturday, May 06, 2017

Norwich — As migratory birds wing their way back to the Upper Valley, Norwich will host a series of free walks, films and exhibits celebrating their return.

“Norwich Bird Week is timed to coincide with the peak arrival of songbirds, particularly the warblers, thrushes, orioles, and tanagers that are so charismatic and iconic, with their colorful plumages and melodic songs,” Chris Rimmer, executive director of Vermont Center for Ecostudies, said in an email.

The events kicked off Friday and will continue through the week, wrapping up this coming weekend with a family picnic on Saturday and a bird-banding demonstration on Sunday.

Two bird walks are planned this week, one for this morning and another for Saturday. Not accidentally, both start at 8 a.m.

“Nearly all songbirds migrate at night, especially under favorable weather conditions (a warm front with southerly winds), so morning is an exciting time for birders, as the newly arrived migrants announce themselves with song,” said Rimmer, who is co-chairing the event with amateur birders Don McCabe and Norman Miller.

McCabe says the best locations for watching birds are where fields and water meet, such as shores and meadows and swamps.

“There are some beautiful songbirds out there,” said McCabe, who enjoys spotting birds that are uncommon to the area, as well as more familiar species. Visiting a local pond last month, he got an up-close look at avian instincts in action.

Two pairs of Canada geese were pushing each other and squawking in a battle for territory on the pond’s lone island, McCabe said. “That was very entertaining.”

Bird-related artwork will be on display at the Norwich Public Library and Norwich Historical Society, and another walk, this one focusing on managing forestland for songbirds, is set for Saturday. But if you can’t get outside with your binoculars this week don’t worry — there’s still time.

“In reality, spring migration occurs over two to three months, with the earliest arrivals being waterfowl (ducks and geese), then the early-returning songbirds like red-winged blackbirds and song sparrows,” said Rimmer, a wildlife biologist. “The momentum gradually builds, and the crescendo reaches its peak during the first half of May, with the middle two weeks seeing the biggest surge of species. Among songbirds, males arrive first, often by only a few days, followed by females.”

Bird Week is a collaboration between Marion Cross School, the Vermont Institute of Natural Science, Norwich Conservation Commission, Norwich Boy Scouts, Vermont Center for Ecostudies and World Story Exchange in Norwich, and Vermont Audubon.

For more information, go to Norwich Bird Week’s Facebook page.

Details, and More

Bird Walk, today, 8-10:30 a.m., Ledyard Bridge park-and-ride, Route 10A and River Road. Free. Led by Chris Rimmer, of the Vermont Center for Ecostudies. Carpooling is encouraged.

Terminal Velocity, Wednesday, 7-9 p.m., Norwich Public Library, 368 S. Main St. Free. A National Geographic documentary about the fastest animal on earth, the peregrine falcon. Followed by a Q&A session with birding expert Doug Hardy.

Eagle Huntress, Friday, 6:30-8:30 p.m., Montshire Museum, 1 Montshire Road. Free. An award-winning documentary about a girl determined to become the first female eagle hunter to compete in Mongolia. Includes a discussion led by Scott Miller and Lindsay McClure, of World Story Exchange, and a “raptor on the glove” demonstration by Anna Autilio of VINS.

Bird walk, Saturday, 8-10:30 a.m., Ledyard Bridge park-and-ride, Route 10A and River Road. Free. Led by Chris Rimmer, of Vermont Center for Ecostudies, and Craig Layne, of Dartmouth College. Carpooling is encouraged.

Walk and talk: “Forestry Management with Birds in Mind,” Saturday, 1-4 p.m., Miller property, 177 New Boston Road. Free. Take a walk with a habitat expert from Vermont Audubon. The talk is designed to help landowners learn about birds and the habitats they use, with a focus on forest management for songbirds.

Family picnic, Saturday, 5-8 p.m., Norwich Green. Free. Pack a dinner and learn about citizen science. Includes art, music and multimedia displays presented by fifth- and sixth-grade Marion Cross Elementary School students.

Bird Banding Demonstration, Sunday, 7:30-10:30 a.m., Campbell Flat Road. Free. Chris Rimmer and Jason Hill, of Vermont Center for Ecostudies, will capture songbirds harmlessly in mist nets, band them and measure them. Some participants will have the opportunity to release birds after they are banded. Park in designated areas on Campbell Flats Road.

If birds aren’t your bag, there’s much more happening this week. See below for a sampling. For a complete list of Upper Valley events for this week, next week and beyond, go to www.vnews.com/Calendar.