The Northern Waterthrush is a small songbird with a brown back and a whitish, creamy underside with dark stripes. They winter from Florida to South America, and spend their summer at their breeding grounds from Alaska to New Jersey. They’re also a bird with of paradox. Despite being widespread, they’re tricky to find. Despite being called a thrush, they’re actually a warbler. Unlike most warblers, waterthrush feed on the ground. Instead of the canopy they prefer low, dense, shrubby vegetation. They specialize in wet spaces such as wooded swamps, bogs, and lakeshores. They prefer still water, but that doesn’t mean they like to stay still. Perhaps the most defining trait of the Northern Waterthrush is its constant tail bob as it strolls through the underbrush. One theory for this behavior suggests that the movement flushes out insects for meals on-the-go. Another says the bounce warns predators that this little bird is agile and attentive to its surroundings. Clearly, the motionless perching mourning dove is a better bargain for lunch.
There’s a bandit on the loose! Weight: .4 oz Color: Buffy olive-brown with black mask and bright yellow accents Wingspan: 6” Last seen: Cattail marsh
Have no fear, this bandit means no harm. It’s actually quite cute. The Common Yellowthroat, often referred to as a “masked bandit”, is a warbler of dense, wet pockets of cattails and shrubs. While VLAWMO doesn’t work directly with birds, this little warbler connects closely to our work with water resources.
Adult males boast a signature bright yellow throat, while females are an olive-brown with a dash of subtle gold under the throat and tail. When out on a Spring walk, they’re more likely to be heard than seen. While the Spring chorus can be a frenzy of different songs, once you pick out the Yellowthroat, it’s hard to miss. Listen for a high-pitched “whi-chi-dee, whi-chi-dee” or “whi-chi-dee-dee” that descends from high to low notes. Hear a sample of this song here.
In the last two parts of this series, we looked at metal music as a strategy for cultivating a sense of empathy and connection to a place. When it comes to cultivating a sense of empathy for a place, we looked at Freeman Tilden’s six principles of interpretation.
1. Interpretation that does not somehow relate what is being displayed or described to something within the personality or experience of the visitor will be sterile. Interpretation should be personal to the audience.
In a recent UWSP course I’m taking, Environmental Education Theory and Practice, we’re discussing strategies for cultivating a sense of empathy and connection to a place. In a well-done EE curriculum, empathy and connection are the foundation, to then make space for more specific knowledge and facts about the environment. It makes sense… why would anyone care to learn a bunch of ecological facts without the framework of a personal connection to what they’re learning? What if that connection is established through metal music? Curious? Read on…