January 31, 2015

I started The Daily Bird New England over three years ago with the goal to acquaint beginner bird watchers to the fluxing, familiar and rhythmic changes of bird life in New England.

I set out to create a post for each day of the year and while I have not yet reached this goal I am moving onto the next chapter of this project (more to come on that soon). I am leaving the site in what I hope is an accessible archive of the existing posts organized by month (see images to the right) and that can be revisited periodically.

For the new comer to bird watching the diversity and fleeting nature of the prize can be daunting. While a field trip with an expert is a great learning opportunity it can also prove disheartening. “How could that tiny brown flash have been a Song sparrow?” The missing piece here is the fact that the long time bird watcher is often not cognizant of, or at least not verbalizing the mental process she goes through to identify the “brown flash.”

An experienced birder will almost never start the process of identifying a bird with the statement, “The date today is January 7th. I’m located three miles north of latitude 42 degrees, facing into a cold wind on a barrier beach by the Atlantic Ocean.” These all-important details are so ingrained in the very experience of bird watching in early January at Plum Island, Massachusetts that they go unspoken. However, the time of year, weather, location, and habitat are often more valuable to identification than the color of the outer wing feathers of the bird in question. The setting and context in which a bird is seen is a huge factor in correct identification and this is the context I hoped to express in the Daily Bird New England.  

I'll go further in that place and time are more than a leg up on identification but the very reason for bird watching in the first place. What makes bird watching so entrancing is the growing awareness of the layers of life painted onto a specific place. Layers that include the rocks and soil, the vegetation, the weather, topography, and all the slithering, hiding, climbing and flying biota that animate that place.

I hope that you will continue to enjoy checking in with the Daily Bird New England, and stay tuned for the next chapter. As always feel free to contact me with questions or comments, or if you’d are looking for a speaker or educational program.

Happy bird watching,


bio and contact

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is an educator, bird watcher, and writer fascinated by the intersections of place, people, nature, and culture. He works for Mass Audubon and lives in the heart of Massachusetts. For questions or comments please contact: alexanderjosephdunn@gmail.com

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