Summer Program Reflections

Summer Program Reflections

– In the four or five days that I have spent on the Delmarva Peninsula, I have encountered and enjoyed many different sights, avian or not. However, my favorite encounter of the week came on Tuesday, when we visited Bombay Hook NWR. On our very last stop at the Bear Swamp pool, we were walking along the edge of the pool, attempting to observe any other birds not already seen. It had been a (very) long day, with greenhead flies at times swarming our group. Even though we were all at our wit’s end, we spotted the main target species… a Black-necked Stilt. To add to that, it was on a nest with one chick. Once a male scolded our group, I walked on a little farther and noticed the reason for his agitation. Four more stilt chicks had popped up and were wading out into the river, accompanied by their parents. As the birds quickly became visible to everyone else, we beheld the spectacle until all the birds were together out on the marsh. It certainly was great to see that these birds were breeding in this area, and I really hope other birders get to see the same.  – Kojo


– Before, most of my experience with birds was indoors, reading about other aspects besides how they act in the wild. ­I was missing a lot. This week, I’ve been able to learn through more experienced birders about the basics of birding, and I know I’m going to stick with it.

On Wednesday we had a competition to confirm breeding birds on a farm property. At one point in the day, I spotted a nest up in a pine tree, and while waiting for someone to come visit so I could see if the nest was active, an American crow called out. I also heard orchard orioles, blue jays, great-crested flycatchers (or “crusties”), and indigo buntings. But what I heard isn’t important­, it’s the fact that I knew what I was hearing. It was then that I realized I had made progress throughout the week, and I know I will continue to learn more as I spend more time looking, listening, and asking questions. The reason I’ve been able to recognize so many birds is not through my efforts alone, it’s because everyone has been so willing to help me see and hear what I didn’t know was there, and understand the whole environment a little bit better. Just as we were about to walk away from the nest, we spotted a baby deer sleeping no more than four feet away from where I was standing. It almost seemed as it was about to say goodbye as it was stumbling away. – Mady


– Birding has always been a distant desire of mine ever since I figured out that my passion could be materialized into something of substance. My younger self took the time to study the birds in her backyard, go over photos of exotic species, and even halfheartedly attempt to recognize a few basic bird calls. Throughout all of those years, however, my dream of going out into the field and pursuing birding began to fade due to a combination of both school and a lack of consistent peer support. When I stumbled across this program, the old flame of my childhood was reawakened with zealous intensity, and upon arriving I learned far more than I had ever possibly imagined. While I had enjoyed this weeklong experience in its entirety, it wasn’t until I had heard and identified my first Eastern Whip-poor-will that I knew that birding was going to become strong component that would remain with me for the rest of my life.

That first night out was not only exhilarating, but a true test of what I had learned thus far. The calls of the distant Whip-poor-will were easily identifiable, and the excitement of possibly seeing one kept me energized. Nightfall had landed, stars dotted the sky, and the air was filled with a strong, persistent, whip-poor-will cry, making the long wait worthwhile. This night, filled with darkness, Barred Owls, Chuck-will’s-widows, and Eastern Whip-poor-wills, was the moment that birding became a true reality. It was the moment I decided to never allow myself to let something like birding fade away from my life again. Perhaps it’s not the most excited I’ve been throughout this week, but it’s certainly an impactful moment of my life that will always remain turning point in my future career with birds.   – Tabitha


– My favorite part of the YMOS Summer Program was not just the birds, but the experience. Not only was I able to meet new people who share my interests, but become friends with them. I was able to share my knowledge with my friends and learn from them as well. We had just as much fun during our down time as we did while we were birding. Whether it was in the cafeteria, in the dorms, or just walking around campus, we all really got to know each other for who we are. While some birds may have been might have been hard to find, the feeling of acceptance was not.  – Sam



– The time at YMOS camp was great, but one part stood out to me. The whole camp was about birds, and we saw at least one hundred species. The one thing that was the most meaningful was how much I learned when surrounded by other birders. I have read lots of field guides, and tried to memorize the bird songs, but really what helped the most was just listening and looking. Being somewhere, where the sounds were pointed out and all the birds identified, was great. It was great to really learn how to look and listen to many types of birds. It helped me just understand a lot of the bird patterns and was really fun. I definitely hope to come back.


– A highlight from this week’s program included our visit to Bombay Hook.  This was my first trip to this refuge; and shorebirds are a weakness in my birding skills; so it was great to experience a new area and sharpen my skills at the same time.  Some of my lifers that we saw throughout the areas here included Seaside Sparrow, Marsh Wren, Clapper Rail, Black-necked Stilt, Willet, Caspian Tern, Forster’s Tern, and Yellow-breasted Chat. We were able to observe a lot of breeding biology from families of Black-necked Stilt, nesting Seaside Sparrows and Marsh Wrens, and other active species, which was amazing.  Birding in this new diverse habitat was exciting, but the best part of the workshop in general was having the opportunity to go birding every day with such a diverse group of youth and adult birders and enthusiasts.  As an educator, learning new skills and birds through the aid of all ages was priceless.  Being able to work with extremely skilled and passionate students was so inspiring.  I certainly have learned a lot this week!   – Rachel