Friday, July 11, 2014

Eagle eye for birds

February 19. 2013 7:06PM
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WILKES-BARRE -- For the last 14 years members of the Greater Wyoming Valley Audubon Society have walked the paths of Kirby Park Natural Area in an attempt to catch a glimpse of some of the 165 different species of birds inhabiting the Wilkes-Barre area.

On Sunday, members conducted another of their monthly birding treks there to enjoy time outdoors and see what types of birds were out and about.

Bob Wasilewski, president of the society based in Dallas, said bird watching is his passion.

You never know what you're going to find, Wasilewski said.

After each Kirby Park watch, Wasilewski compiles data and posts the information on the society's website at as a way to spot trends, he said.

On Sunday, white-throated sparrows, mallard ducks, red-tailed hawks, great blue herons, black ducks and Wilkes-Barre's resident peregrine falcon were all out for view, he said.

Spotted for the first time this year was an American tree sparrow, he added.

This time of year most of the birds visible are migrating species, Wasilewski said. In the spring and summer the songbirds become more prevalent, he added.

The local bird population seems to be remaining steady for the most part, Wasilewski said. However, he said, there are some variations in recent years.

The group has seen a significant increase in raptors, Wasilewski said. Bald eagles, for example, are doing well and are essentially all over the place.

Much of their progress can be attributed to the Endangered Species Act, he said.

However, some of the songbirds may not be doing as well, Wasilewski said. The scarlet tanager, for example, enjoys habitats with large uninterrupted tracts of forest lands. These types of habitats are becoming increasingly difficult to find in Luzerne County, he said.

Warmer weather species such as the Carolina wrens are showing up later in the year than usual, he said. Possibly due to warmer temperatures in Northeastern Pennsylvania they are able to survive even in Northern Tier counties such as Bradford County, he said.

Overall, bird watchers in Kirby Park can observe a consistent variety of songbirds, waterfowl, raptors, shore birds, wading birds and others, he said.

In addition, analysis of bird count and migration data does provide some insight as to the state of the environment and climate, Wasilewski said.

The society seeks to promote an awareness of, appreciation for and desire to preserve the biodiversity available in the Wilkes-Barre area, according to their website.

It also seeks to keep environmental issues on the forefront including the preservation of nature and sustainable use of Earth's natural resources.

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