Leave your nest and fly away

For beginning or longtime bird-watchers, trips with nonprofit groups can be fun. Take wing with a birding group, and see for yourself. Here are some reasons these trips offer a good experience:

1. Cost. A four-day trip from eastern Massachusetts to southern New Jersey was $495, including three nights in a mid-level hotel, full breakfast, plus transportation everywhere. All arrangements were made by Massachusetts Audubon.

2. Experienced naturalists. From calculating high-low ocean tides - and therefore the best times to look for shore birds - to knowing which stream or creek deep in the woods is likely to have a black-hooded warbler, the naturalists' knowledge maximizes the number of birds seen, and they don't hurry you.

3. It's a group thing. It's a private thing. Birds are both social and solitary; so are birders. Birding trips allow for delightful exchanges and shared experiences, plus ample opportunity for solitary moments or walks. Multiple pairs of eyes increase the chances of actually seeing birds. When one person spots something, everyone else will, too.

Contact your local chapter of the National Audubon Society to find out about birding trips in your region. To locate a chapter, go to www.audubon.org.

The next trips sponsored by the Massachusetts Audubon Society will be to view raptors and waterfowl in Vermont, Oct. 15 and 16; and birding the mid-Atlantic coast, Oct. 20-24. Call (413) 637-0320 for more information.

(c) Copyright 2000. The Christian Science Publishing Society

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