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A Busy Time For Migrating Birds

May 12, 2018
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SCOTT SIMON, HOST:

And equally exciting - across the country, a busy time right now for migratory birds in search of B.J. Leiderman, who writes our theme music. More than 200 species of birds have made it to the coast of Western Lake Erie while attracting thousands of birders from around the world. Here and reporting like only NPR gives you, Elizabeth Miller of WCPN ideastream sends us this audio postcard.

NATHAN SHIPLEY: My name is Nathan Shipley, and I'm from Kansas City. And I currently live in Champagne, Ill. So there's a bird somewhere over there called a warbling vireo. And it's sort of like a bubbly, raspy sound that kind of (imitating bird call). And one of the ways that birders tend to try to remember bird songs is they, like, will learn a mnemonic. And so the warbling vireo sounds like it's saying, I'll seize you and I'll squeeze you and I'll squeeze you till you squirt (laughter).

I think the thing that I like it about the most is it's a hobby, but it's also sort of one of those things that I can, you know, be competitive about. But then I can just walk around, you know, on a Tuesday morning, walk into work or something and just hear birds.

MICHAEL PAR: Michael Par from Washington, D.C. I'm originally from Britain. And when I was 19, the very first birding trip I took to North America was right over the lake here to Point Pelee, which was - at the time was kind of known as the mecca for migratory birds.

There's a Baltimore oriole right above us singing. See that?

(SOUNDBITE OF BIRD CHIRPING)

SHIPLEY: The birding's great. So many birds that you usually have to crane your neck to see. There's a northern perilla. It goes (imitating bird call).

KAREN SLATER: Karen Slater. I'm from Highland, Ind. And my husband calls me an SOB. I'm the spouse of a birder.

ELIZABETH MILLER, BYLINE: (Laughter).

SLATER: There's a lot of SOBs here. If you see a whole clump of people, hurry up over there and say, what are you looking at? And a bird jam means there's something good.

SHIPLEY: I think there's a growing number of young people particularly who are interested in the sport aspect of it, like, keeping a life list and keeping a list of birds you've seen.

UNIDENTIFIED PERSON #1: What is that?

UNIDENTIFIED PERSON #2: It's a yellow...

UNIDENTIFIED PERSON #3: No. It doesn't have the white - it doesn't have the black mask. So is that the white-eyed vireo?

UNIDENTIFIED PERSON #4: I don't know what that is.

UNIDENTIFIED PERSON #3: No, it's kind of (unintelligible).

(SOUNDBITE OF MONSTER RALLY'S "SUNNY SLOTH") Transcript provided by NPR, Copyright NPR.