Sweet Auburn: The Magazine of the Friends of Mount Auburn An Oasis for Birds and Birders | Page 3

“T he B irding T ribe :” A Celebration of Mount Auburn’s Birding Community Edited by Bree D. Harvey, Vice President of External Affairs and Lauren Marsh, Communications, Grants & Events Coordinator I n its 180-year history, Mount Auburn has come to mean many things to many individuals. From a place of solace and comfort for the bereaved to an urban oasis where people come to retreat into nature, there are countless feelings and memories tied to this national treasure. For many people, memories of Mount Auburn are associated with its orni- thol ogical ties, as an important habitat for year-round and migratory birds that welcomes not only the birds themselves but also thousands of bird watchers. The history of birding at Mount Auburn begins before the Cemetery’s founding in 1831, when early naturalists visited the woods of “Sweet Auburn.” As a boy growing up in Cambridge during the 19th century, ornithologist William Brewster (see page 12) included Mount Auburn and its vicinity in his regular birding excursions. The credit for turning Mount Auburn into the popular bird watching destination it has since become, however, goes to Ludlow Griscom, “the patron saint of modern birding.” Griscom, who, like Brewster, is buried at Mount Auburn, began birding here regularly in the first half of the 20th century and authored the Cemetery’s first bird list in 1939-1940. He solidified Mount Auburn’s place of importance in the bird- ing community, a group as vibrant and diverse as the birds they come here to find. Though birders do frequent Mount Auburn throughout the year, the Cemetery’s importance to the birding community is most obvious during the spring. An early morning visit to Mount Auburn in late April or May looks like no other time of year: the Cemetery is buzz- ing with scores of birders looking for the newest feathered visitor, capturing images of the smallest and most colorful specimens, and animatedly discussing their findings. As Mount Auburn’s importance in the birding community can really only be told through the birders themselves, we first spoke with our good friend, Bob Stymeist, to hear his memories of birding at Mount Auburn for more than fifty years. We then asked our community of birders to share with us their favorite memories of this place. Many birders also shared wonderful photographs taken at the Cemetery through the years, which now illustrate this entire issue. The outpouring of quotes, anecdotes, and colorful images that we received perfectly tell this fascinating part of Mount Auburn’s story. We are also reminded of another of the many ways that Mount Auburn remains true to the vision of our founders, as a place where the beauties of nature inspire the living. Spring/Summer 2012 | 1