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Steve Jermanok’s Active Travels: May Birdwatching at Mount Auburn

An Eastern Phoebe, often the first spring arrival at Mount Auburn cemetery in Cambridge, MA. Photo courtesy of Jeremiah Trimble and Mount Auburn Cemetery.
An Eastern Phoebe, often the first spring arrival at Mount Auburn cemetery in Cambridge, MA. Photo courtesy of Jeremiah Trimble and Mount Auburn Cemetery.
By the time my wife and I arrive at Cambridge’s Mount Auburn Cemetery at 6:30 am, the parking lot around the fountain is already full and minivans with birders from across New England are streaming in. We find a spot and stroll over to where we find our guide for the morning, Carol Decker, Director of Mass Audubon’s Ipswich River Wildlife Sanctuary. As if on cue, a red-tailed hawk flies overhead while to our left, a vibrant Baltimore oriole sits on a branch, twig in beak. While I’m always thrilled to see a hawk, especially as a diversion from writing when the large bird rests on a branch outside my office window, it is the orioles, scarlet tanagers, vireos, and the queen of neotropical migrants, the warbler, that has coaxed us to leave our pillows prematurely and arrive at this Cambridge birding hotspot. Wintering in the Caribbean, Mexico, Central America, even South America, these enticing songbirds make their way north to New England and Canada to breed in the summer months.
Mass Audubon schedules most of their spring walks at Mount Auburn the first two weeks of May, when the warbler migration reaches its peak. Anyone with a love of nature is urged to sign up, even a novice birder like myself. Sure I have a trusty pair of binoculars sitting next to me as I write, to savor that brightly yellow goldfinch when he inadvertently comes across my bird feeder, but I don’t memorize bird calls or carry a checklist. Perhaps that’s the reason why my wife and I found this outing last May to be so special. The colors on the backs and bellies of these birds were so spellbinding that I found it to be the aviary equivalent of going snorkeling in the Caribbean.
steveSteve Jermanok As a columnist for National Geographic Adventure, adventure travel expert at Budget Travel, and regular contributor on outdoor recreation for OutsideMen’s JournalHealth, and Sierra, Steve Jermanok has written more than 1,000 articles on the outdoors.He’s also authored or co-authored 11 books, including Outside Magazine’s Adventure Guide to New England and Men’s Journal’s The Great Life. His latest book is Go Now! Put Your Life on Pause and See the World. He’s currently an adventure travel expert at Away.com and blogs daily at  Active Travels.
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