Birdwatch

Carolina Bird Club

Come join the flock

By Susan Campbell

So, are there any bird nerds (like me!) out there wondering where you just might find others of a like mind? Then check out the Carolina Bird Club (CBC). This 82-year-old organization is a very active club with members of all ages from all walks of life who have one thing in common: They love birds. Although some in the club may be termed “birdwatchers,” those who passively enjoy the birds they see at their feeders or around their neighborhoods, are, in fact, full-fledged “birders.” The term has only been in use since about the early 1980s, just about the time I myself became a bird-crazy teenager. “Birders” have a real passion for their fine-feathered friends — some might say an addiction.

Our club (yes, I have been an active member since I moved to the Sandhills 30 years ago) has more than 1,200 members, many of whom spend hours in the field not just satisfying their own curiosity about things bird-related but gathering details that further our knowledge collectively of the region’s avifauna. Started in 1937 as the North Carolina Bird Club, it has been the one and only ornithological organizations of both North and South Carolina for well over 50 years. The results of countless hours of birding by literally thousands of Carolinabirders (not surprisingly, that’s what we call ourselves) can be found in The Chat, the club’s journal, published quarterly. There is also a quarterly newsletter that keeps members up to speed on the group’s activities, and documents interesting bird sightings and other assorted news items. Although academics and other professionals doing scientific work in the Carolinas do share their findings through the club’s publications, much of what we know has been documented by the large cadre of very serious but amateur birders. They always seem to be out there, looking for any and all birds they can find from dawn to dusk (and some even at night, for we do have a number of nocturnal species regardless of the time of year).

Three weekends a year, one in September (fall), January (winter) and late April or early May (spring), a meeting is planned somewhere particularly birdy. More than a hundred members descend to eat, drink, socialize and — wait for it! — go birding. And, as I type this, ambitious plans are well underway for the spring meeting which will be headquartered in Southern Pines. It has been 10 years since the last CBC gathering in the Sandhills — so the excitement is building among the local volunteers involved.

By meeting time in early May, dozens of species will have just arrived. Spring migration will have just peaked. All of the singing and displaying will be hard to miss. And many of our year-round avian residents will be scurrying around as they care for newly hatched nestlings. There will be more than enough activity for us birders to take in one short weekend. So, should you spot a group of us on the trails at Weymouth Woods, along Nick’s Creek Greenway or poking around at Reservoir Park with binoculars in hand and eyes to the sky, feel free to join us. You, too, can become a CBC birder. PS

For more information on the Carolina Bird Club, visit our website: www.carolinabirdclub.org

Susan would love to receive your wildlife sightings and photos. She can be contacted by email at susan@ncaves.com.

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