I’ve gone to the songbird exhibit for only a few minutes before, and basically saw a bird feeder exhibit. The songbird exhibit requires time, and sometimes patience, and just peering in briefly won’t allow for the full experience. However, if you have a half hour or more, I’ve found that the songbird exhibit can be the most exciting exhibit of all.
I found an appreciation for the songbird exhibit when I helped David Erler, the Science Center’s senior naturalist, take pictures of a bird feeder he made out of a milk jug for a book he’s been working on for the 50th anniversary of Squam Lakes Natural Science Center (I definitely recommend taking a look at it when it’s finished in 2016). I had come to watch the bird feeder a few times before and hadn’t seen a lot of activity, so I decided to stay for at least an hour. I wasn’t disappointed. For the first time ever, I saw a live rose-breasted grosbeak, a black bird with a white stomach and an upside down triangle of bright red on its chest. It was thrilling, and the thrill was made better by the fact that I had to wait and was surprised. I was also able to get some great photos for Dave’s book.
I went to the songbird exhibit with a camera again recently, and was lucky enough to see several woodpeckers, mourning doves, a cardinal of each sex, a gray catbird, a gold finch, squirrels and chipmunks, a young woodchuck, and-what excited me most of all-a purple finch. Many of these discoveries propelled me to ask questions that drove me to make new discoveries. For example, when I arrived, I saw a downy woodpecker feeding another downy woodpecker from a suet box. Curious to see if this was a mating ritual, I looked up the behavior when I got back to my desk and found out it was more likely that the woodpecker being fed was a juvenile. I also had never heard of a gray catbird, and identified it by doing some online searches based on its coloring and size.