Birding with Bridget: Meet the Bird Diva

Families who have visited The Tyler Place in the past few years have probably met our friend Bridget, who guides adult guests on birdwatching walks during their stay. Bridget, known as the Bird Diva on Vermont Public Radio and to her flock of fans and followers in Vermont, is excited to be back for 2019! We chatted with her about birdwatching, her Tyler Place bird walks, and what else she’s up to.

woman holding birdwatching equipment in woods

Q: How long have you been leading Bird Walks at The Tyler Place?
A: 2019 will be my 4th summer at The Tyler Place. I’m starting to recognize returning guests week to week, remembering their various birding experiences and stories. Some guests come with a lot of experience and knowledge about birds, specifically about species from their home regions. It’s always fun and exciting to answer someone’s question and then connect it back to the birds they know and recognize at home. We get a lot of newbies, too, who have never been birding. It’s fun to see their sense of amazement as they start noticing new things in their surroundings.

Q: What does a typical bird walk at The Tyler Place look like? Do you have any favorite spots to bring guests?
A: We normally start around the Inn and take a nice, slow-paced walk around the property, binoculars in tow. One of my favorite ways to begin is guiding guests towards the lake from the Inn. The lawn, surrounded by trees and shrubs, is often lively with different bird species. I love starting in this spot because it really demonstrates you don’t need to be in the middle of nowhere to see different species of birds — just steps away from the noise and buzz of activities is a whole new world to discover. 

There’s also a sweet spot that guests think is some kind of magical birding tunnel. On the forested path leading to the Fieldhouse, warblers like the American Redstart and Cedar Waxwing make homes in the plethora of Cedar and Dogwood trees. They can often be seen flying from branch to branch, eating insects and caterpillars among the leaves. 

Q: Tell me more about the idea of “Slow Birding”.
A: Birding is a slow, even meditative activity that can be done alone or with a small group. Slowing down and tuning into your senses is the best way to discover new things. It can be extremely relaxing and restorative to quiet your mind and use your eyes and ears to learn.

Q: What does The Tyler Place’s proximity to the lake mean for bird walks?
A: It means that we get to see a lot of shorebirds, too. There is a single Great Blue Heron that likes to hangout and fish near Edward’s Bay. In the later summer months, we’ve seen migratory shore birds traveling south.

bird in the lake

Q: What can birding teach us about being a good citizen and environmental steward?
A: It can teach us all so much. Many people are blown away by what’s actually there once they start exploring. Learning about the environment and the ecosystems that are right in our own backyards, connecting with “place” in a gentle and curious way creates a deep appreciation for nature. Birding is a great opportunity to disconnect from devices and reconnect with the world around you.

With birding you learn about the interactions of native species with their environment. At The Tyler Place, birds play a role in keeping the grounds and gardens healthy. We also talk about how invasive species can really be detrimental to the natural bird habitat.

Q: What winter projects are you working on?

A: Birding is a year-round activity, so I still get outside and into the woods even when it’s snowy. I get a bunch of questions on Facebook and Twitter from curious bird enthusiasts. Back in 2013 I was getting a lot of questions and comments about crows staging and roosting in various spots around Vermont. All of this interest led to the creation of the Crows in Vermont project on iNaturalist, which is essentially an on-going research project tracking Vermont crows. Crows in Vermont gave Vermonters an online community and platform to track their observations, share photos, and discuss ideas. There are waves of interest every winter when this behavior picks back up.

I also host Birds & Brews meetups for casual, informal birding banter. It’s nice to get out in the community and connect with people about a shared interest. Birds really are a great connector, everyone has a bird story!

If you’re local or visiting the area, Bridget’s next Beers & Birds meetup is on March 28 at 6pm at Brewster River Pub & Brewery in Jeffersonville. For those not local, there may be some similar birding events happening while you visit The Tyler Place this summer, so keep up with Bridget the Bird Diva on Facebook, Instagram, and Twitter. She hopes to see you soon!