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    "Listen." Birding with Sgt. Maj. Trouern-Trend



    Story by Staff Sgt. Benjamin Simon 

    Connecticut National Guard Public Affairs Office

    “Listen.” Sgt. Maj. Trouern-Trend whispered after pausing near JP Morgan’s grave at Cedar Hill Cemetery in Hartford. “Juncos,” he said, pointing to the ground beneath a group of large pine trees.

    The dark-eyed juncos gingerly poked around in the exposed needles beneath the pines, oblivious to being observed through binoculars, and unfazed by the frigid February temperatures.

    Trouern-Trend is assigned as the 118th Medical Battalion's Chief Operations Sergeant for Health Protection. He said his two preferred birding spots in Hartford are the Cedar Hill Cemetery and the Landfill on Leibert Road. On an ideal day at the cemetery, he said he could easily spot 80 bird species. At the landfill, he said his success is dependent on the number of people present.

    Most birds that Trouern-Trend sees, he logs into an application on his phone called eBird. He said the millions of weekly bird sightings logged in by thousands of birding hobbyists on eBird help scientists track the migration patterns and populations of the world’s birds. “It’s citizen science,” he said with a smile.

    Trouern-Trend was deployed to Iraq in 2004 and 2010 with the 118th Medical Battalion, and Iraq just happens to be in the middle of a substantial bird migration route. He said he was fortunate in being able to spot some of his “life” birds during his time overseas. In the birding hobbyist community, a “life” bird is a bird that hobbyists will put on a ‘wish list.’ Some hobbyists have more luck than others spotting their life birds, and not all get to spend two years in the center of a migration route.

    During his deployments, Trouern-Trend viewed a number of his life birds, including a great snipe that was visiting a small pond next to a water treatment plant on Logistical Support Area Anaconda (Joint Base Balad).

    “Listen,” said Trouern-Trend, pausing near the Cedar Hill Cemetery’s Mark Howard monument. “Chickadees.” Despite the conspicuous crunching of the ice on the cemetery ground beneath his feet, the tiny birds familiar song resonated through the frozen tree limbs and countless ice glazed gravestones.

    He said that it’s easy to miss the chickadee song because of how common the sound is in Connecticut. He added that the most fundamental component of birding is, indeed, hearing the birds. He said that he typically always hears them before he sees them with limited exception. He often doesn’t hear or see the fastest member of the animal kingdom: the peregrine falcon.

    “There’s a [peregrine falcon] nest on top of the Travelers Tower in Hartford,” he said. “I once heard one dive into a flock of pigeons on a sidewalk. There was a big cloud of feathers, and it was gone.”

    Trouern-Trend said that birding, as a hobby does not require traveling to faraway places, and in most instances, can be undertaken in a backyard or local park, or even on a busy street.

    “Some people spend thousands and thousands of dollars on binoculars, cameras, and airplane tickets to travel around the world to see birds. You don’t really need any of these things. You just have to get outside and listen,” he said. “And it can help to find a group of birders to join.”

    Dozens of Connecticut towns and cities have Audubon societies (that would love to welcome military members) that promote bird watching, sponsor bird walks and educational courses, and encourage good conservationist habits.

    Trouern-Trend joined his local Audubon society as a teenager.

    “I was the youngest one there,” he said with a laugh. “My friends were all in their 50s and 60s. ‘The most important part is just being able to spend time outside. As a teenager, I could easily spend seven or eight hours outside birding.”

    “Listen,” Trouern-Trend said, pausing near one of the Cedar Hill Cemetery’s typically lily pad encrusted ponds. “A yellow-bellied sapsucker.” The small woodpecker sounds a little like a cat, if it happens to be calling. Trouern-Trend, however, referred to the woodpecker’s drumming on a ginkgo biloba tree. In addition to the cemetery’s being the home of a wide variety of bird species, it also hosts a variety of flora and vegetation.

    “In urban areas, sometimes cemeteries are the only protected green spaces,” he said, pointing to a golden crown kinglet perched on a leafless white ash tree branch. “Cemeteries are important, even if they take up a lot of space,” he said.

    Trouern-Trend is also the CTARNG Anti-Terrorism Program Coordinator, but despite the busyness of his jobs, when time permits, he is still able to observe the local areas’ species.

    The CTARNG Hartford Armory’s roof was visited by a snowy owl in January, and Trouern-Trend said he often observes relatively bizarre phenomena during his drives to work and lunch breaks.

    “Fish crows like to gather in the local McDonalds parking lot,” he said. “I’m not sure why.” Fish crows are generally smaller than American (common) crows, but the cousin species often group together in what’s called a murder.

    “And great horned owls are nesting now,” said Trouern-Trend. Great horned owls are often referred to as hoot owls, due to their easily identifiable soft cooing. “They like to eat skunks,” he added. “They don’t have a great sense of smell.”

    Trouern-Trend softly knocked on the trunk of a beech tree. Despite the cold temperatures, the great horned owls are some of the earliest birds to nest in Connecticut. “Sometimes they’ll poke their heads out,” he said.

    Above Trouern-Trend in a large cedar tree, a brilliant red bird hopped from branch to branch, like a tiny-feathered acrobat, seemingly in search of something. It’s song, which sounds like a sweet warm cheer, echoed downward. Trouern-Trend said that cardinals were traditionally southern birds, but have migrated to the north, in recent decades, due to a number of factors—not limited to common household birdfeeders.

    “Do you hear that?” he asked, referring to the cardinal’s song, near Gideon Welles’ resting place.

    “It’s probably telling the other birds that we’re here,” he said. “They listen too.”



    Date Taken: 03.01.2018
    Date Posted: 03.06.2018 11:30
    Story ID: 268271
    Location: HARTFORD, CT, US 

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