would put our binoculars up to not find the bird. Our hands would get cold and we would put our hands back into our pockets to warm up. Every time we put our hands in our pockets the Carolina Wren would sing again. We did this 4-5 times and I kept saying: I swear I hear a Carolina Wren right near us.” It took a while to figure out that my wife kept hitting the play button on the Identiflyer when she went to warm her hands.
Or on another Christmas Bird Count when 4 of us couldn’t rustle up an owl after starting at 3:30 AM. We played calls at many different locations with no response. At our last stop, we played a Great-Horned Owl call with again, no response. We finally gave up with dawn on its way and the 4 of us starting joking that the owls knew the tape was a fake because there was a green frog calling in the background and they were all sitting in the trees laughing at our stupidity. We started to belly laugh going back and forth and suddenly, at a distance, a Great-Horned responded to our laughing.
6. What is a great and underrated local birding spot you'd like to share? Evansburg State Park is under-appreciated by the local birding community. It has such a wide range of different habitats: forests, fields, thickets and running water.
7. Is there an elusive lifer you're hoping to find after you step down and have some more free time?
Yes- Vesper Sparrow. I have been out and about when they are out and about and have yet to pick up that species.
That bird also taught me a lesson on how a bird in the hand is very different from a bird in the field. I was in a training class through Audubon in which they handed us bird skins. They gave a Vesper Sparrow and even though I knew all the necessary markings, it took me a long time to figure out what it was. It taught me how important what the bird is doing and how it moves (flies, walks, preens, sings etc.) is to identifying all birds.
8. If you had to pick a favorite bird, what is it? I love all the Neotropical Migrants. As a geography major, I just love that they connect me to North, Central, and South America. It blows me away that they fly those distances twice a year and I get a chance to see them only during brief windows. That always makes the observations extra special.