When I was a kid I had a favorite morning ritual: I’d wake up early, sneak into the kitchen, butter a piece of bread, turn on MTV for company and then sit in front of the sliding glass door to the patio of my family’s apartment on Barrett Street, eyes glued to the backyard.
There were birds out there.
They were mostly House Sparrows and Grackles and Starlings, but on a lucky day I’d spot an Evening Grosbeak or one of the Ring-Necked Pheasants that roamed the complex grounds.
I thought about birds all the time. If I wasn’t drawing birds I was wearing out the pages of a Peterson field guide. Sometimes I’d dream about birds: the backyard would look exactly as it did in real life, but it would be filled with Snowy Owls.
But then I got older. I discovered guitars and girls and the big-idea-filled fields of economics and journalism. I still had a soft spot for birds, but I didn’t make time for them.
Then I moved to Holyoke. Downtown Holyoke. And as I started to wander the streets with my camera, hunting for fascinating people and buildings to photograph, I realized: there are birds here, too.
So this is my tribute to the birds downtown. The photographs you see are mine, unless otherwise noted. If you’d like to share a city sighting — in Holyoke or elsewhere — please feel free to post a comment or drop me a line.
About the Author
Greg Saulmon is a writer, editor, photographer, and lifelong resident of the Pioneer Valley.
Saulmon has worked for the region’s major daily newspaper, The Republican, since 2006 — first as executive editor of the subsidiary MassPublishing, where he managed the production of a group of monthly news-magazines; and, more recently, as the newsroom’s assistant online editor.
His photographs have been displayed at the Hosmer Gallery at Forbes Library in Northampton, Holyoke’s Wistariahurst Museum, the Vermont Center for Photography in Brattleboro, the Taber Gallery at Holyoke Community College, and during the Solid Sound Festival at MASS MoCA in North Adams.
When he’s not birding, he plays guitar in a variety of indie rock and power pop bands.
Hello! My name is Ally Sullivan and I am the Community Engagement Coordinator for Kestrel Land Trust in Amherst. In partnership with Hampshire Bird Club, KLT is putting on a free talk this month that may be of interest to you and any birding friends you have in Holyoke. State Ornithologist Drew Vitz will be giving a talk on the imperiled American Kestrel and inform us on statewide efforts to monitor the bird. The American Kestrel (Falco sparverius) is one of the most rapidly declining species in Massachusetts, and they have become an uncommon breeding bird in much of the State. However, the leading causes for this decline are unclear. In collaboration, MassWildlife, MassAudubon, Keeping Company with Kestrels, the Kestrel Land Trust, USFS, MDOT, and others have developed a study to monitor kestrel populations and help elucidate the mechanisms behind their long-term declines. This project was initiated in 2013, and State Ornithologist Andrew Vitz will be discussing some of the results from the first year and our goals in the coming years. The event will be on March 26th at 7pm in Northampton at the Forbes Library. Please email me at firstname.lastname@example.org if you have any further questions or if you’d like to RSVP for the event. Thank you!
P.S. your photographs are very beautiful!