Nature Club to host bird migration talk at NRAO
Doren Burrell, of Charleston, is a lawyer for the state of West Virginia, but in his off-time, he studies bird life all around the state. He said West Virginia is especially unique when it comes to birds and bird migration.
“I've always enjoyed the outdoors in West Virginia, and I've always had an interest in nature and natural history,” Burrell said. “For the past fifteen years or so, I've been an amateur birder.”
Burrell said he's active in the Brooks Bird Club, and up until this past year, he was the Kanawha Valley chapter president. Burrell said he'll usually give talks a couple of times a year, and his upcoming presentation will focus on migration.
“I'm going to be talking about the migration of birds and all the interesting aspects of it,” he said. “About how the birds that we see here nesting and raising young, often travel from quite far away, and they have to go through some significant challenges to do it.”
According to Burrell, birds face extreme biological, physical and logistical challenges during migration.
“The hummingbird that people see at their hummingbird feeder has to fly — non-stop — 800 miles in one night to get over the Gulf of Mexico,” Burrell said. “This is a bird that weighs about as much as two paperclips. Every year.”
Other birds Burrell will be talking about during his presentation are tied specifically to West Virginia.
“Like the Cerulean Warbler,” Burrell said. “Approximately ¼ of all the Cerulean Warblers in the world nest in West Virginia. We have some very special things here, and the birds that come to breed in West Virginia have to go through a lot just to make the journey.”
Burrell said he's spent a lot of time in Pocahontas County. From 1979 to 1984 he was a counselor at a science camp in Thornwood, and he's even given talks about birds here before. He said during his upcoming presentation he also plans to talk about some of the birds that are specific to the county.
“I want to tie in the knowledge I have about West Virginia birds, but also try and give some examples for Pocahontas County, and talk about what a unique area Pocahontas County is,” he said. “It's really remarkable in terms of its bird life.”
Burrell said one of the resources in putting together his talk is a book called “Living on the Wind,” and he suggested that anyone interested in bird-watching check it out.
“It's a great book,” Burrell said. “The author's name is Scott Weidensaul. It was a finalist for the Pulitzer Prize in non-fiction in 2000. It's a very well-written and compelling book.”
Burrell said he's excited for the chance to share his knowledge of bird migration — something that has always fascinated him.
“I think bird migration is an amazing phenomenon, especially with all that the birds have to do to find their way and travel such long distances,” he said.
Burrell's presentation is free and open to all. The event is sponsored by the Pocahontas County Nature Club and is scheduled for Saturday, March 16 at 1:00 in the National Radio Astronomy Observatory classroom.