Author to give free talk about owls

Birding has a rich mentorship tradition. Experienced birders take novices under their wing to teach them how to find and identify birds. My mentors not only taught me how to identify birds but also introduced me to important authors.

When I was a new birder one of my mentors, Dave, introduced me to the books of Scott Weidensaul.

Dave had invited me to go birding with him at Canfield Island in Loyalsock Township on a spring morning. He taught me that the black-throated green warbler sings “trees trees murmuring trees” and that the patterned leaves along the river are a plant called trout lily.

As we finished our walk, he told me to read Weidensaul’s “Mountains of the Heart” about the natural history of the Appalachian mountains.

Looking back I realize how keen of an insight it was to recommend that a beginner learn about the local geographical and ecological settings into which our birds fit. The more you learn about our local mountains the easier it is to appreciate the beauty of them.

I am writing this after a long day of hawk watching at the Route 15 overlook where we counted 27 golden eagles and dozens more raptors migrating south along the local Appalachian ridges.

Dave also recommended “Living on the Wind,” a book about bird migration that earned Weidensaul a Pulitzer Prize nomination. Weidensaul’s key strength as a writer is his ability to captivate the reader with a story while conveying a sense of mourning over what has been lost from the natural world and inspiration over what still can be preserved.

Weidensaul’s latest book is the “Peterson Reference Guide to Owls of North America and the Caribbean.”

He has extensive experience banding owls in Pennsylvania. This process involves catching the bird, recording measurements and attaching a metal leg band with a unique serial number so the individual can be identified if caught again. He has banded snowy owls in our area, including some near Turbotville, during the snowy owl irruption three winters ago. He also runs saw-whet owl banding stations in Pennsylvania to gather information about our smallest owl species.

Weidensaul also acts as a mentor through lectures. The Lycoming Audubon Society and the Clean Water Institute of Lycoming College will host Weidensaul at 7 p.m. Wednesday in Room G-11 of the Heim Building at Lycoming College.

The free public program is titled “Owls: Soul of the Night” and will include a book sale and signing. We are grateful for this opportunity to educate the public and hope it will inspire others to join us in our mission to conserve and restore natural ecosystems.

Brown is an avid local birder and photographer and is vice president of the Lycoming Audubon Society. He may be reached via email at davidebrownpa @gmail.com.

The Lycoming Audubon Society is a chapter of the National Audubon Society with responsibility for members in Lycoming and Clinton counties. Information about the society and events can be found at http://lycomingaudubon. blogspot.com. The public is invited to share local sightings and join discussions at https://www.facebook.com/groups/lycomingAudubon.