A United Nations report issued this month warns that one million species of plants and animals are destined for extinction because of climate change and a booming global population. There is no better time than the present, then, to take a closer look at the natural beauty and diversity that is all around us and celebrate it while we can.

A great way to do that is to spend time in Florence Shelly Wetlands Preserve in Thompson, PA. This preserve is a diverse and thriving habitat for many species, and each summer the stewardship committee hosts guided walks to learn about some of them. On Saturday, May 18, at 7:00 AM, the preserve presents its annual bird walk led by Evan Mann.

A local birder and amateur naturalist, Mr. Mann will conduct a leisurely walk around around the preserve. Besides identifying birds that are nesting in the diverse ecological niches, he will discuss the habits of the various species and offer helpful hints for identifying them by their songs. Dedicated birders love this walk, because they can track familiar species, spot rare ones, and occasionally even add a new bird to their life list. Amateurs will enjoy exploring the woods, fields, and wetlands of the 400-acre preserve as they get to know both winged inhabitants and migrants by sight and song. Typically, the group identifies between 60 and 65 species of birds.

Diversity is the key to the Shelly Preserve’s beauty and value and also the reason it hosts so many species. The brushy meadows are home to tree swallows, wrens and sparrows, while the deep boreal bog attracts eastern bluebirds nesting in dead snags, swamp sparrows, and belted kingfishers. Hawks can be spied hunting in open areas, while the preserve’s pristine brook and dense woodlands provide habitats for the northern waterthrush, Baltimore orioles, scarlet tanagers and least flycatchers. Plews Swamp is the preferred habitat for families of wood ducks, mallards and red-winged blackbirds.

Evan Mann’s bird walk launches our season of monthly guided walks with local naturalists. Join us to discover:

Sunday, July 21, 2 PM: Human and Natural Influences at the Preserve, with Andrew Gardner

Sunday, September 8, 2:00 PM: Trees, with Hank Hartman

Walks begin at the preserve parking lot one mile north of Thompson on Route 171, where Stack Road intersects. The bird walk will last about four hours, but you are free to leave whenever you wish. The trails may be wet, so wear warm, protective footwear. Don’t forget your binoculars, and come prepared to spend a morning exploring the fascinating world of birds. For further information, contact Trebbe Johnson, 570/396-0293.