The Bird Geek

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The first person I introduced at the flower show seminars last week was Michael Corcoran speaking on “Native Birds for our Native Plants.”  As I greeted him in the hallway, I immediately liked his warm character and ease.  He pointed out the convention center windows indicating there were birds to note across the view on a tall city building.  My mind was more on my show responsibilities, so I’ve already forgotten which bird he was speaking of! 

I told him that my husband has a triple decker bird feeder at our home and my friends are always commenting about the many birds we have on it.  Often they react with surprise at the variety, but I’m kind of use to seeing the many different birds.  Then I continued with letting Michael know I’ve seen a pair of pileated woodpeckers at my home in the woods several times.   I can even recognize their bird call now and imitate it which my brother finds comical.  But that is about the extent of my bird knowledge.  I was actually fishing for something interesting to share with Michael as we awaited the start his seminar. All the while, he listened and pleasantly responded with facts about the bird world.

Michael’s background includes being a volunteer with the CT Audubon Society since 1994 and being an active advocate for bird conservation.  He refers to himself as the “Birdgeek” and his email id reflects him as such.  He is also a serious cooperator through UCONN promoting sound forest stewardship practices and has a strong focus on natural resources. 

As Michael projected photos of native birds found in CT areas during his seminar, I was shocked to learn that I did not know of any displayed on the screen except the grosbeak!  Grosbeaks visit our feeder at home once in a while.  I just love their dark black on white with the rosey red coloring below their large beak.  There were many different species discussed by Micheal as he explained where they exist during certain migratory periods in our own woods, various forests and parks in CT.  Here I thought with my husband’s triple deck bird feeder setup on a chain pulley system loaded with so many different types of birds, we were a home with a good mix of birds.  I mean, my husband stocks his feeders so well with suet and grey stripe sunflower seed, we could have put a kid through college with the amount he has spent! 

Winter shot of Steve's birdfeeder

It was apparent the audience was filled with avid bird lovers.  They seemed to have a common look.  Their smiles were amidst the darkness of the seminar room as beautiful photos of birds were shown by Michael.  Soon following the bird review, Michael covered invasive plant species and how they harm bird feeding routines.  He instructed the group on how to find and identify certain invasives while offering alternatives, like Viburnums among others. 

Michael lives in South Glastonbury and showed photos of the trees and shrubs he has planted in his own yard and how these helped his bird populations.  I thought how wonderful it would be to line up a tour on his property where we can walk and talk more about the bird geek’s world.  (Note to self!)

For me personally, this seminar kicked off my experience at the flower show by offering a non-bird geek a new perspective.  However, I did not take notes as I would have liked, and had to run off shortly after his presentation to handle other duties.  Three days of show activity continued, and by yesterday, the last day of the show, I was feeling the tired feet and some exhaustion from all the excitement.  My generous husband, Steve, offered to pick me up from the show so I would not have to park in the parking garage. 

When we arrived home and stepped out of our car, I swear on the holy bird bible, there was the pileated woodpecker, a top a tree in my neighbor’s yard, chirping, or singing, whatever the technical term is for it.  I am NOT kidding.  We both paused.  I said to Steve, “I can’t believe this Steve!  This is a sign!”  Then I started to tell him about Michael’s presentation and how he has to meet him.  The pileated woodpecker flew right over our garage in the horizon.  It was distinctly recognizable, and now I also know, it is the largest woodpecker of North America.   

Michael Corcoran’s complete bio is located on the CT Garden & Flower Show website (www.ctflowershow.com) under the menu option titled seminars.  Cathy T

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