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Wednesday, May 4, 2016

Big Walnut Bird Club keeps an eye on the skies

Monday, September 13, 2010

Gary VanMiddlesworth, C.J. Shields, Joan Billman, Anna Wood and Judy Aikman at Eagle Creek Park look for migratory warblers passing through Indiana on their way south. Courtesy photo
GREENCASTLE -- The Big Walnut Bird Club met at the Greencastle Presbyterian Church Saturday, then drove an hour to Eagle Creek to try and get a look at warblers as they head south on their annual migration.

Though they were eventually rained out by poor weather, the members are still enthusiastic about their hobby.

"They might be heading down to Mexico or South America, however far they fly," said Don Williams, a member of the club. "The fun part of being a bird watcher is being able to see them right now -- you've got about a two week window when they're passing through.

"All the birders come out to get a look at them, because this is the second time to see the warblers that only come through here for migration," he said.

Dean Finley, another club member, said he's been bird watching for 60 years, ever since a summer job first got him involved in the hobby.

"I was a summer naturalist at Clifty Falls State Park down near Madison in 1948," he said. "Part of my job down there was to lead bird walks. I didn't know much of anything about birds at that time. I took up Peterson's Field Guide and began to teach myself, and I found I really liked it."

Williams and Finley said the club has a field trip once a month to go bird watching. They also have an annual picnic in August and a couple indoor bird watching events every year.

"It helps accommodate some of the older people who can't get out," Finley said. "They enjoy the indoor program."

Finley said the club has about 20 active members. Finley and Williams both said the financial side of the organization is pretty relaxed. The club dues are $2 a year, though that's not very strictly enforced. Some of that goes to the cost of stamps to mail out the club's newsletter.

Williams said the fall warbler watch is more exciting, because it's more difficult to notice some of the birds.

"You've got young warblers that have just been born and they don't necessarily look like the parents," Williams said. "They call those confusing warblers."

Anyone interested in the club can contact Finley at 653-7839 or Williams at 246-6876.

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