A Birder Needs Help to Keep Dead Creek Clear of Harmful Invasives | True 802 | Seven Days | Vermont's Independent Voice

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A Birder Needs Help to Keep Dead Creek Clear of Harmful Invasives

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Published July 6, 2022 at 10:00 a.m.
Updated July 11, 2022 at 4:13 p.m.


Maeve Kim in Moose Bog in the Northeast Kingdom, feeding peanuts to a Canada Jay - COURTESY OF BERNIE PAQUETTE
  • Courtesy Of Bernie Paquette
  • Maeve Kim in Moose Bog in the Northeast Kingdom, feeding peanuts to a Canada Jay

A few years ago, Maeve Kim picnicked with a friend at the Dead Creek Wildlife Management Area in Addison County and watched birds migrate south for the winter. Kim, a citizen scientist and avian educator, was lying in the grass when around 20,000 snow geese suddenly took to the air.

"The noise was incredible; all the peeps and cheeps and hawks and whistles," Kim recalled. "We both gasped and were completely quiet for a few seconds. And then we just burst into laughter. It was just one of the most joyous experiences I've ever had." 

Intent on preserving that special place, Kim has organized an event on Thursday, July 7, for volunteers to help remove invasive honeysuckle shrubs from the Brilyea access area at Dead Creek. Local birds such as rose-breasted grosbeaks, cedar waxwings and robins feast on the plant's red berries, but they provide inadequate protein for fall migrations. Honeysuckle also outcompetes native vegetation, quickly becoming the dominant species.

"It inhibits forest regeneration completely," Kim said, "and it isn't good for birds." Many garden stores market the flowering shrub as "pest free," which really means that "local insects won't touch them," allowing the invasive to spread easily, she added. 

That can be a problem in a place like the Dead Creek Wildlife Management Area, which is one of the premiere bird-watching spots in the Northeast, attracting more than 200 avian species. For Jericho resident Kim, who has taken birding trips to 18 states and three Canadian provinces, organizing the gathering has been an opportunity to contribute to a habitat close to home. The 78-year-old bird-watcher doesn't think the clearing session — which will require chainsaws and some heavy lifting — will be easy, but she expects it to be valuable and "very fun."  

Kim, who has taught more than 200 birding classes, feels invigorated by the young people who have recently begun attending events. She hopes these new birders find the same joy she has since she took up the hobby in the 1960s. 

"It enriched and changed my life," Kim said. "It really did."

Interested in volunteering? Email Kim at maevulus@aol.com.

The original print version of this article was headlined "Birders' Call"