April 11, 2014
The Allegheny Front's new Bird Files segment features profiles of regional birds as described by area experts. One of those experts has the perfect name for our gig—Mary Birdsong. She's with Erie’s Presque Isle Audubon Society.
And while living for a time in St. Louis made it easy for her to say the Cardinals are her favorite baseball team, Birdsong says that she finds it nearly impossible to choose a favorite bird outside of the world of sports mascots.
"One birder friend of mine used to say that his favorite bird was the next bird he was going to see," Birdsong says. "I do love shorebirds more than other birds but that doesn't mean I don't like other birds. I'm particularly fond of the Piping Plover. I'm particularly fond of the Song Sparrows and the chickadees in my backyard because they're my daily companions."
Birdsong is an Erie native. But it wasn't until the last few years that she started really noticing the birds around her.
"When my husband and I were dating, we were always outdoor people anyways," Birdsong says. "And we'd go on picnics in Presque Isle State Park in Erie. The next thing we knew, we were buying binoculars and the rest is history."
This story goes on a little more colorfully at Birdsong's blog Feather, Spade & Spoon, where she writes about birds, gardening and food.
Besides writing her blog, Birdsong writes for Erie-area publications about birds. And you can hear her as a volunteer announcer during campaign pledge drives on Erie NPR station WQLN, which broadcasts The Allegheny Front. Birdsong is also a shorebird monitor. This last duty requires her to walk several miles along the beach looking for and counting endangered Piping Plovers from the Great Lakes population.
"Last year was a very good year. We had four or five come through," Birdsong says. "What we're hoping for, of course, is two of them—a male and a female to show up and decide to stay. The center of the nesting population is in Sleeping Bear Dunes, Mich. They are starting to branch out and choose other locations. We're hoping Presque Isle will be one of them. "
Presque Isle Audubon Society is hosting its festival of the birds May 9-11. Staff from The Allegheny Front will be there.
Piping Plover Image: USFWS