Julien Amsellem used the term “warbler neck” during the bird walk he led through Hillside Woods in Hastings on the morning of Sunday, May 14, which was Mother’s Day. His mom, Cindi Smith, was among the 14 participants.
“Warbler neck” refers to the pain birders feel from looking upward, often with binoculars or cameras held in front of their eyes. Amsellem was equipped with both, including a camera with a lens long enough to zoom in for a bird’s-eye view.
The walk started at the kiosk next to the tennis courts and then proceeded to Sugar Pond. What was scheduled for an hour, lasted longer for those who stayed. During that time, Amsellem identified 39 species through sight and sound, which he logged on the eBird app. Her also used the Merlin app, which identifies birds from their calls and songs.
Some birds were passing through. Others were year-round residents. Participants paused the longest to watch a pair of Baltimore orioles build a nest in a tulip tree using material borrowed from an unoccupied nest nearby. In another area, Amsellem recognized a territorial wood thrush that had nested there in the past.
On the day before the walk, Amsellem set a personal record by identifying 120 species of birds in Westchester in a single day. He started at 3:30 a.m. and traveled around the county, from Long Island Sound to the Hudson River.
Amsellem’s interest in birds started when he was student at Hillside Elementary School, adjacent to Sugar Pond. He’s now a senior at Hastings High School. During his sophomore, junior, and senior years he conducted two projects about birds for his school’s science research program. Next month, he will graduate as the salutatorian of his class. In the fall, he will start at Yale University, where he will study ecology and evolutionary biology.
Between now and then, Amsellem will lead more bird walks through the Village of Hastings Parks and Recreation Department. The next three will also be on Sundays — May 21, May 28, and June 4, all starting at 9:30 a.m. The cost is $10 per participant. To register, visit https://villageofhastings.activityreg.com/.
Welcome to the discussion.
Keep it Clean. Please avoid obscene, vulgar, lewd, racist or sexually-oriented language.
PLEASE TURN OFF YOUR CAPS LOCK.
Don't Threaten. Threats of harming another person will not be tolerated.
Be Truthful. Don't knowingly lie about anyone or anything.
Be Nice. No racism, sexism or any sort of -ism that is degrading to another person.
Be Proactive. Use the 'Report' link on each comment to let us know of abusive posts.
Share with Us. We'd love to hear eyewitness accounts, the history behind an article.