Old Cahawba to host Bird Walk

Published 10:18 pm Thursday, May 3, 2018

By Oniska Blevins | The Selma Times-Journal

The Alabama Historical Commission is inviting community members to its Bird Walk for Beginners and History Buffs this Saturday.

Assistant site director for the Old Cahawba Archaeological Park, Jonathan Mathews, said this is a time to learn more about birds as well as the history of the area.

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“We’ll be walking in the grounds where there was a historical Indian village,” he said.

The group will also be walking where Alabama’s first state house once stood and near Cahaba Prison, also known as Castle Morgan. Castle Morgan was once a prison during the Civil War for Union soldiers.

“Of course all these three elements happened during different time periods, but they have the same physical location,” he said.

The bird walk will be Saturday, May 5 8-10 a.m. at the historical Old Cahawba Archaeological Park in Orrville. The fee is $8 per person.

“I know that’s early, but that’s really when the birds are active,” he said.

He said there is a lot to appreciate about birds and sometimes people may fail to notice.

“You kind of take them for granted,” he said.

“In everyone’s backyard you’ve got these beautiful animals that come and go and sometimes they’re from so far away.”

Donald Self and his wife Judy, members of the Alabama Ornithological Society and knowledgeable birders, will guide the guests on the tour and provide knowledge on different bird species.

Self created an activity to help beginning birders more comfortable with spotting as well as identifying birds.

The first step, however, is knowing how to properly use the equipment used to spot birds.

“We have an exercise that we put them though using binoculars and spotting scopes teaching them how to properly use both of those instruments,” he said.

The identification activity, “birds on a stick,” will help guests practice identifying the different species of birds that will be seen during the tour.

“I have made life size wooden cut outs of [birds] and painted them at least semi realistically,” he said.

“Then we let the folks use their binoculars and the field guide to identify the [wooden] birds.”

Self said the purpose of these exercises is to help beginner birders get accustomed to the basics of birding and then afterwards its time to get to the fun part.

“So we start with that practical exercise and then after we’ve gotten folks confident with their equipment, with what we’re going to be looking for we’ll be taking them on a bird walk around Old Cahawba Park,” he said. Some of the birds that may be seen during the actual tour are bald eagles, turkey vultures, barred owls, brown thrashers, hermit thrushes white-throated sparrows, Carolina wrens and/or chipping sparrows.

Self said aside from reveling in the beauty of birds there is much to be learned from studying them and recording their migrations throughout different environments.

“By keeping careful records of what we are observing with the birds we are able to measure what’s happening in the ecosystem,” he said.

The first 10 participants to arrive will receive a free bird’s nest box kit.

For more informatio contact, Linda Derry at Cahawba@bellsouth.net or call the Old Cahawba Archaeological Park at (334) 872-8058.