Guided by History
Audubon Mid-Atlantic
Chapter Chatter Newsletter June 2021
Common Grackle
Communicating Through Birds
Bird songs and calls are woven throughout our history and culture like strands of a tapestry. The summertime canopy demands that we rely more heavily on listening rather than seeing, which is a terrific metaphor for embracing new partnerships and audiences. Read on to discover new ways to incorporate bird song into your programming and outreach.
Common Grackle. Photo: Marie Schmidt/Audubon Photography Awards
Barred Owl
Harriet Tubman, An Unsung Naturalist
Harriet Tubman will be forever known for her valiant and stalwart efforts as part of the Underground Railroad. Her expertise in the outdoors and deep knowledge of flora and fauna are less well known, but invaluable tools that strengthened her efforts to provide safe passage. 

Bird calls featured prominently in the ways she would communicate with her charges. By using owl calls, she could effectively convey an “all clear” or “danger” message without bringing attention to herself or others.

Her use of the Barred Owl call blended in seamlessly with the nighttime sounds of the landscape, allowing her to signal crucial next steps to escaping slaves who were relying on her to guide them to safety. 

Learn more about her masterful grasp of the natural world in this article from Audubon. 

Barred Owl. Photo: Brenda Stevens/Audubon Photography Awards
Juneteenth is the oldest known celebration commemorating the ending of slavery in the United States. On June 19, 1865, the end of slavery and the Civil War were finally announced in the westernmost reaches of the country. Read by Major General Gordon Granger, General Order No. 3 was delivered in Galveston, TX, effectively ending American slavery.  

Thus began a tradition of jubilant celebration that is now recognized or observed in nearly every state and the District of Columbia.

Learn more at, the National Juneteenth Observance Foundation, in this article from Smithsonian Magazine, and in this Fact Sheet from the Congressional Research Service.

*UPDATE* On June 17, 2021, President Biden signed legislation making Juneteenth a federal holiday to commemorate the end of slavery in the United States. 

Carolina Wren
Tips for Teaching Bird Songs to Beginners
Now that summer is nearly upon us and the overhead canopy has filled in with lush greenery, spotting birds with our eyes is less effective than using our ears. This can be daunting to beginning birders. But, consider using a birding by ear field trip, program, or virtual challenge to provide an entry point for new birders. 

Feeling a little silly can be a terrific equalizer when connecting with new audiences. Using some humor alongside the typical mnemonic devices can help encourage laughter and relaxation for participants, while also providing a fun experience that enhances learning. The Barred Owl’s “who cooks for you” can become an actual question for the group. The Eastern Towhee’s suggestion to “drink your tea” could spark a quick poll about favorite beverages. A seemingly plugged in and amplified “teakettle, teakettle, teakettle” of a Carolina Wren can be a simple starter bird. And, the common call of the Northern Cardinal can easily turn into a conversation about light sabers. Be creative and consider new paths to welcome folks that invite active participation regardless of their familiarity with birds.

Watch Dr. J. Drew Lanham describe “seeing with our ears.”

Check out Audubon’s 8-Part Birding by Ear series starting here. (Find the links to all eight pieces on this page.)
Carolina Wren. Photo: Melissa McCeney/Audubon Photography Awards
Cedar Waxwing
Updated Leadership Rosters
Has your chapter recently elected new leadership? If so, please send along an updated leadership roster that includes contact information for each board member and committee chair who should be included in regular communications from national and Audubon Mid-Atlantic. 

Send updated rosters to Kelly McGinley.

Cedar Waxwing. Photo: Don Young/Audubon Photography Awards
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