Although we cannot celebrate this milestone as in years past we want to share our enthusiasm with you for our club and what we do as a bird club.
The TCBC is 65 years old this year; it is one of fifteen chapters of the Maryland Ornithological Society. Our purpose is the enjoyment of birding – the viewing of birds. Most of the species we see are generally familiar and common but there is always the possibility of a rarity. We find all birds fascinating and beautiful; we find birding to be a wonderful excuse to be outdoors. But as important as that is to a person’s well-being it is also an opportunity for us to provide statistics to the birding world. Most of our members record their observations on e-bird, an international citizen science web site maintained by Cornell University. This massive data base maintained by amateur birders and monitored by scientist, is tracking changes in local, national, and global bird populations to support more effective bird conservation. On e-bird we download our list of sightings; sometimes they want a description if the bird is a usual species for the area. Yes we do get “called” on some identifications.
The formation of this club, the TCBC was formally established as a chapter of the Maryland Ornithological Society in 1954. The first officers were Richard (Dick) Kleen, Ed Henderson, Harold McCulloch and his wife, Richard Johnson, John Brunelle and Clayton Rauch.
The bird club has maintained the same central ideals established 65 years ago.Counting birds, bird identification the status of birds and bird conservation. The monthly meetings are free and open to the public,meetings are held from September to May. At each meeting we have a guest speaker whose topic is of interest to the group but many topics are of interest to the general public as well.Weekly bird walks are still Sunday mornings as they were 65 years ago.
The Talbot County bird Club is a diverse group always open and welcoming to anyone who is interested in birds or birding with us. We welcome beginning birders and delight in showing them the array of Maryland species. You do not have to be a member to attend meetings or to join us for a bird walk. Before Covid-19 we publically advertised our meetings and bird walks, regrettably at this time we can no longer have open meetings or bird walks. We hope to return to our open activity policy as soon as it is deemed safe to do so.
While much has remained the same for the TCBC there have been some important changes. We now actively support the Youth Program of the Youth Maryland Ornithological Society (YMOS) Club started by two members of our club. This group organizes monthly field trips for young birders and participates in regional birding competitions where the youth have excelled year after year. YMOS invites young birders from elementary through high school to participate.
For more information follow the “Young Birders” link on the MOS web site, mdbirds.org.
We have made changes to our bird walks to accommodate a variety of lifestyles by having some on Saturdays, some in the evening and later in the day on Sundays. We also visit a variety of birding spots on the Eastern Shore and sometime the Western shore. These walks and public invitations will continue after the pandemic is over.
This year has presented challenges to birding but also a response to the isolation of covid-19. New challenges for some people are places to bird away from parks etc. where larger groups may gather. An answer to isolation is to go out on your own to identify birds that actually breed and raise young in Maryland. Every ten years a project called the MD/DC Breeding Bird Atlas takes place. The state is divided into quad maps; each quad is divided into six equal parts, these parts are divided into smaller blocks. Talbot County has 41 blocks. Volunteer’s sign up for blocks of their choice then bird these blocks over five years looking for signs of nesting or raising young. The results are compiled to give a better understanding of the changing distribution of Maryland bird life, particularly those species that breed here each summer. Maryland is in the Atlantic flyway so it is important to know which birds are passing through versus those that are residents raising young. This project has given us a reason to be outside birding by ourselves during the pandemic as the common robin is as important in the data records as the Baltimore oriole. Some people have found amazing birds in their yards now that they are home more.
Sometimes people ask what the club does beside look for birds. Here are some examples.
TCBC club oversees the 156 acre Mill Creek Sanctuary near Wye Mills by clearing paths, maintaining the shelter and managing the deer herd.
TCBC club is active in the official fall, spring and Christmas bird counts for Talbot and Dorchester counties.Our members also established the St. Michaels Christmas bird count, part of a national network of CBC’s that began in 1900. Our Christmas count participants number around 40 people each year. Counts at these various times of the year tell what birds are migrating through and what birds are spending the winter here.
The already mentioned Breeding Bird Atlas.
Our members are also involved with a variety of projects for Pickering Creek Audubon Center,such as overseeing the volunteers who perform the wood duck and bluebird house monitoring, providing monthly bird counts and as members on the board of directors.
Collaborations are ongoing with Pickering Creek Audubon Center; most recently is a new viewing platform to be built this fall funded through the TCBC.
We are grateful to our members who were proactive in the return of the osprey from the DDT crisis by building osprey nesting platforms and promoting protection by state and government agencies.
Most people are thrilled to see a Bald Eagle soaring above and would like to know more about them, Ospreys are also of interest and recently abundant. People are aware of larger birds like vultures and hawks as well as most backyard birds like cardinals, blue jays, mocking birds, robins, house sparrows, blue birds and blackbirds. Could you have thought it possible to have 206 species on your property over a number of years as one of our best birders recently reported? The TCBC e-bird “life list” stands at 284 species seen in Maryland on club walks and official birding trips.
An example of the delights of a bird walk is the cry “I see a bird, it’s a redstart” The responding “where?” It’s on that limb on the left of that pine tree. It just dropped down, now it’s to the left, now it’s up, now it’s right then the satisfied “I see it” The movement of the bird helped to find it along with the experienced birders directions.
There are many beautiful birds in Maryland, many as beautiful as those found in exotic locations.
We look forward to many more years as an active, welcoming bird club. Please watch for announcements of the return of our monthly programs and bird walks.