Wednesday, March 11, 2015

A Sad Realization amid March Meh-ness

March is arguably the most uneventful month of birding in the state of North Carolina. The only exciting news is usually in the form of returning Tree Swallows and Ospreys while the bulk of the migrants are still a long way off. The gulls and ducks are all leaving (or have already left), and the winter birds have all been seen. The good news is, I will be using this time to build up some new material for this oft-neglected blog.

The landfill gulls are still hanging around, but not for long. Kiss winter and gulling goodbye.
This lull in bird activity leaves us some extra time on our hands. Freed from the crippling ID pitfalls of worn large white-headed gulls, and predating the influx of Black-throated Blue Warblers and the like, March's meh-ness gives us a chance to think about our own birding. I like to plan things out in advance, so naturally, I decided to look at what sorts of birds I will be able to see this year.  I noticed one thing that really, really pissed me off.

The dates of April 29-May 7, when read aloud, conjure up images of Prothonotary Warblers, Veerys (Veeries?), Eastern Whip-poor-wills, and Yellow-breasted Chats. This is peak migration in central NC, when every birder and their brother is out kicking around the local hotspots. Unfortunately, due to NC State University's debilitating schedule, I won't be enjoying much of this migrant free-for-all. Because these are the dates of our final exams. Really. They did this to me.

Ah, Rose-breasted Grosbeak, I may miss you this spring. But it's not my fault, I promise.
So while I have an obscene amount of free, birdable time on my hands this March (it's Spring Break right now), I will have next to none come peak migration. My rather impressive North Carolina year list I've compiled thus far will be severely handicapped by my need to maintain a decent GPA. Aside from a few quick ambles down the campus greenway (which luckily can be surprisingly productive), I'll be locked in my dorm room, wishing I was outdoors.

But I ask not for your sympathy. I dream of a day when bird-obsessed college students like me can take their final exams after the bulk of the migrants have moved through. Maybe we can establish a university where birder kids can take their finals in July and March, when no one wants to go birding (at least in my neck of the woods).

But hey, there's always fall migration. That's more fun anyway.


  1. I feel your pain. Or at least I did a few years ago when I still took classes. Exams ruined my chance to see NC's first Cassin's Sparrow. I'll never forgive Duke for that one...

    1. That sounds brutal! First state records, at the very least, should count as some sort of "excused absence" during exams. I don't think I could be an effective test-taker with Cassin's Sparrow on my mind.

  2. Take heart; soon college will be over, and you can bird when you are not working. But heed this warning: When you are out looking for work after college, aim for a business that allows you to choose your vacation time! And one that offers flexible work hours; you can work late, and get the morning off for local-but-important birding. And make sure you put in your request EARLY to block off the peak migration. And yes, you have to get permission to take vacation, at least in this state. "Job Abandonment" is a real reason for being terminated without benefits! Erla of WAS Meetup