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Photo by Mickey Pullen

Thursday, January 25

Sounds Wild and Broken

Join us Sunday, February 4 for Sounds Wild and Broken, a book talk by David George Haskell. Biologist and nature writer Haskell has spent his career reminding us to pay close attention to nature. In his latest book, Haskell turns his considerable perceptive powers to "Earth's fraying soundtrack"—the planet's orchestral richness, which is being increasingly blocked out by human noise.

Haskell will deliver a book talk and play recordings of nature's most wondrous sounds in the Avalon Theatre, Easton. Doors open at 1:30. The first 35 arrivals receive a free copy of the book!

This program is presented in partnership with Shore Lit and the Avalon Foundation.

Reservations are required for this free program. Click here to register.

Thank You!

Thank you for understanding our need to keep the Visitor's Center closed last week as we dealt with the ice and snow. We appreciate your patience! Please enjoy the collage below of photos by Mickey Pullen.

Philadelphia Flower Show

We're headed back to the Philadelphia Flower Show! Join us Monday, March 4 for a trip like no other. The year's theme, "United by Flowers," celebrates the unique and colorful community born out of our shared love and appreciation of gardening and the connections and impact they create on our everyday lives. 

We will be admitted to the show at 9 a.m.—a full hour before it opens to the public. Click here to join us.

Feeding Cold Birds, Barn Owls and the BBA3

When snow started falling lightly during the first of the two "snowstorms" that we had, birds came to my feeders in greater numbers than I have seen all winter. I participate in Cornell Lab of Ornithology's Project Feederwatch, so I report on the species and their numbers that show up. Numbers of White-throated Sparrows increased from a previous high count of 23 to 51 and House Sparrows from 21 to 42. Over the next couple of snow days, Brown-headed Cowbirds went from zero since November to 34. Other common species increased in numbers but not as dramatically. To my disappointment, no new species arrived.

White-throated Sparrow. Photo: Wikipedia.

I recently listened to an excellent podcast about how birds survive the cold and what feed to put out to help them survive. Listen here. The best recommendation they made was to ensure that your feeders are full in the afternoon so the birds can have a full tummy to convert to energy to help them survive the night. And, after they burn up all their fuel keeping warm at night, make sure there is adequate food first thing in the morning.

Yesterday morning, I taught a class, "'Owl' Do They Do That?" The turnout was outstanding, so I consulted with the powers that be at Adkins and we decided to offer the class again on Saturday, February 10 from 10 a.m. to noon. Offering it on a Saturday morning will allow those who cannot make a weekday morning a chance to learn more about owls, especially interested students. You can register here.

While doing research for the class, I learned that between 1987 and 2004, the numbers of breeding Barn Owls decreased by 74% in Maryland. Massive 4-year studies called the Breeding Bird Atlas (BBA) of birds in Maryland uncovered this dramatic loss. The first BBA of Maryland and the District of Columbia happened between 1983 and 1987. The second BBA (BBA2) was between 2002 and 2006. The effort involved hundreds of volunteers to search for breeding birds in 241 grids across the state.

Left: Barn Owl. Photo: eBird, Sharif Uddin.

Right: The result was a 500-page book that has individual species accounts and distribution maps for every breeding bird in the covered area. It is available for purchase here.

BBA3 began gathering data on January 1, 2020, and will continue for five years. I recently learned that Cristina Niciporciukas, Adkins volunteer and birder extraordinaire, recently joined the team of volunteers. Oh behalf of Cristina, I request that any readers who know of or find nesting raptors, especially owls, to pass the information to me. The location of nesting Barn Owls is especially important because they are strictly nocturnal and difficult to find. Please note: the location of any nesting raptors or owls should never—repeat, never—be announced to a wide audience. Nesting owls are sensitive to disturbance. The guidance for all birders is "Do No Harm!"

Even though we are in the coldest part of winter, Cardinals began singing in my yard a week ago. It was the familiar "wacheer wacheer wacheer" song. Listen here. As the birds' bodies respond to the lengthening days by producing hormones for the upcoming breeding season, the song areas in their brains enlarge and develop. Adkins employees Lisa and Michelle report that Cardinals are attacking their car mirrors in the parking lot, a sure sign that the birds are already trying to establish territory by chasing off that strange cardinal in the mirror.

Spring is in the air for birds. For us, maybe not so much.

Please contact me with any questions and any raptor nesting information for Cristina. Jim Wilson (

Jeobirdy Answer: This local bird is the only regular brood parasite (lays eggs in other birds' nests).

Jeobirdy Question: What is the Brown-headed Cowbird? Their eggs have been found in 220 different species nests, including some, like a Mallard nest, where the eggs have no chance of survival.

Winter Forest School

Calling all nature-loving kids! This season, allow your child's innate curiosity and sense of wonder to guide their experience! From building tree ring castles to peeking under moss for sleeping creatures, students will get up close to nature and learn to love chilly days. This outdoor school is designed for students ages 5–10 and runs February 6 to March 12. Students should dress for the weather and be prepared to get a little messy. Click here to register.


A big storm is coming...a yarnstorm! The Arboretum is partnering with local yarn artists and FACES (Fiber Arts Center of the Eastern Shore) to create an exciting visual experience in the trees around the Visitor's Center. The bright colors and whimsical designs will be on view from February 29 through April 6, with a reception on March 3.

There will be a knitting and crocheting bee next Tuesday, January 23, from 1 to 2:30 p.m.

Join us to prepare for the Yarnstorming exhbit! Register here.

If you or someone you know are interested in decorating a tree, contact Jenny Houghton at Prizes will be awarded!

Memberships are critical to our success. If you're not a member, please consider joining today. An Arboretum membership also makes a wonderful gift. Click here for more information. 


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