Learn about birds March Arts Marathon

Participant: Richard Littauer

Mission: I’m going to write an entry a day, describing a subspecies of bird here in Vermont

The freedom of a bird’s flight is the oldest of metaphors. Birds migrate, irrupt, and seem to come and go with the wind. And yet – how much do regularly think about local populations of birds? Do we celebrate their differences, their similarities – how they connect us to ourselves, and to our environment?

The Common Raven is everywhere – it’s found broadly across the Northern Hemisphere. It doesn’t change significantly between different populations. And House Sparrows chirp in Montpelier just like they do in London, Sydney, Buenos Aires, Baghdad, and Mumbai – but their cheeks are only white in Southeast Asia, while here they are gray. And some birds are our own – like the Bicknell’s Thrush, endangered and peculiar to mountains like Vermont’s Greens, or the Pine Grosbeak, coming down in the winter to feed on our crabapples and ash samaras. But can you tell Pine Grosbeak here from one in Colorado? Actually, yes! Do you know how?

This month, I am going to post a short essay a day about how to identify a bird here in New England to the subspecies, or as close as we can. With over 400 recorded birds to chose from, this will be just a random sampling. But my goal is to make it easier for readers to see anew, and to learn about birds at their feeder, birds they may have been seeing for decades. I want to encourage them to look beyond “just a seagull”, and to get closer to saying “that’s the American version of the Herring Gull, isn’t it?” And, of course I’ll be raising funds for CVRAN.

Our 2023 March Arts Marathon is a fundraiser to help CVRAN assist with housing, living expenses and legal fees as needed by a large group of asylum seekers in Central Vermont, ranging in age from two to almost 50 years old. We also collaborate on helping Afghan refugee families who have been resettled in Central Vermont. The March Arts Marathon is a community effort. Each day in March poets, writers, painters, photographers, fabric artists, collage and multimedia artists will each send a copy of their daily work to friends and family. And friends and family will donate to support this work. Together we will be helping to welcome new Vermonters, who in turn will add immeasurably to our own communities, and who might enjoy looking at our birds with us, too.

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