Sunday, April 20, 2014

Urban birding

Without car, without camera, without functional bike, without even the physical ability to ride a bike, I nevertheless embarked to bird this afternoon. I girded myself with my Leicas, grabbed my notebook, and walked northbound on Fuller. Urban birding.

Martin Luther King Park is a dismal birding spot. Bald ball fields, a few scraggly trees, and very few birds. It is, however, one of the largest patches of green near my house. Interestingly, it is also the namesake of the song "King Park" by the post-hardcore group La Dispute. Not my normal taste in music, but, hell, it's cool to find a song about a park a half-mile up the road. It is a song that induces goose bumps.

Martin Luther King Park, Kent, US-MI
Apr 20, 2014 2:00 PM - 2:10 PM
Protocol: Traveling
0.15 mile(s)
9 species

Rock Pigeon (Feral Pigeon) (Columba livia (Domestic type))  1
Yellow-bellied Sapsucker (Sphyrapicus varius)  1     A female-type in the squat pine just north of the tennis courts.
American Crow (Corvus brachyrhynchos)  2
American Robin (Turdus migratorius)  10
Chipping Sparrow (Spizella passerina)  1
Northern Cardinal (Cardinalis cardinalis)  1
Brown-headed Cowbird (Molothrus ater)  2
American Goldfinch (Spinus tristis)  1
House Sparrow (Passer domesticus)  8

As far as I know, no one has written a song about Oak Hill Cemetery. I sauntered in that direction, past scores of family barbecues and children riding tricycles in driveways. At the intersection of Worden and Alton, cherr-cherr-cherr--a Red-bellied Woodpecker, surprising given the scarcity and diminutive stature of the neighborhood trees. Finally, the cemetery. Walk to the middle, and you'll find yourself in one of the quietest spots in Grand Rapids. 

Oak Hill Cemetery, Kent, US-MI
Apr 20, 2014 2:25 PM - 3:15 PM
Protocol: Traveling
0.2 mile(s)
Comments:     Afternoon ramble through the north half of Oak Hill Cemetery. I spent most of the time period sitting in the middle of the cemetery writing.
14 species

Cooper's Hawk (Accipiter cooperii)  1     I didn't see any activity at the nest when I walked by, but later heard a bird giving "kek" calls from that direction.j
Downy Woodpecker (Picoides pubescens)  2
Eastern Phoebe (Sayornis phoebe)  1
American Crow (Corvus brachyrhynchos)  3
White-breasted Nuthatch (Sitta carolinensis)  2
Ruby-crowned Kinglet (Regulus calendula)  1
American Robin (Turdus migratorius)  4
Chipping Sparrow (Spizella passerina)  3
Dark-eyed Junco (Junco hyemalis)  2
Northern Cardinal (Cardinalis cardinalis)  1
Brown-headed Cowbird (Molothrus ater)  1
House Finch (Haemorhous mexicanus)  1
American Goldfinch (Spinus tristis)  2
House Sparrow (Passer domesticus)  4

Most birders are white and affluent (relatively speaking). Today, I realized that most of the birders I know are suburb or rural dwellers. Connection? Certainly. Poor, single-parent families can't access or accommodate the resources and places birding entails. King Park is better than nothing, but there a ten year old boy won't be able to catch frogs, find trout lilies, or encounter a potential mentor that totes binoculars.