Every spring Maine Audubon has led free bird walks at Evergreen Cemetery in Portland during the peak of bird migration, specifically as warblers are flooding into the state. These Warbler Walks have often drawn large crowds of birders hoping to catch a glimpse of some of North America’s most beautiful birds as they stop over to feed in this city-surrounded oasis, before moving on to their breeding grounds. The COVID pandemic and need to social distance caused these walks to be canceled in 2020, but a year later, with vaccination rates rising, we are happy to announce the Warbler Walks are back, although in a slightly modified way.
Beginning on Monday, May 3, we’ll lead walks at Evergreen Cemetery from 7 am to 9 am, beginning near the south end of the duck pond (map). Unlike in past years, we’ll have multiple leaders each day who will lead small groups to various parts of the cemetery. After introductions by the pond, you can follow a leader to an area and then move around to various groups as you wish. Walks will be each morning, Monday through Friday for two weeks, ending on May 14.
We require that anyone participating in our walks wears a mask and is respectful of social distancing. We know that maintaining six feet of distance is challenging while birding, especially when that bird you really want to see is being pointed out, so masks are required.
Below is a map of the cemetery with red circles around the three main areas we’ll cover on the bird walks.
1) The Ponds: the open water here attracts a number of species to come and drink or bathe, while other migrants like some shorebirds (Solitary and Spotted sandpipers) or waders (Great Blue Heron or Great Egret) are easily viewed here.
2) Down the trails and up the hill to the left (south) birders can find the brush piles used by cemetery staff. This little clearing provides a good view of higher canopy species like Scarlet Tanager and a good spot to listen for singing breeders like Ovenbirds. Continuing down the path will bring you to the power line cut where species like Eastern Towhee and Prairie Warblers are likely to be found.
3) From the pond, paths to the north will access the affectionately named “junk pond” (you’ll see why) and the UNE soccer fields. The junk pond is a good spot for uncommon species like Black-crowned Night-herons and sometimes Rusty Blackbirds. The soccer field can be good for Northern Flickers and Brown Thrashers, or watch the sky for migrating raptors. Accessing this area can be very muddy and have long stretches with uneven terrain (many roots sticking up) so caution should be used.
We’ll do our best to have volunteers in most of these areas each morning, but joining us at 7 am at the meeting location (south end of the ponds) is the best way to learn where we’ll be each day. Check back here for updates throughout the week!