By Richard B. Primack
One early spring morning in 1858, upon hearing a Purple Finch singing, Thoreau noted in his journal: “How their note rings over the roofs of the village! You wonder that even the sleepers are not awakened by it to inquire who is there, and yet probably not another than myself observes their coming.”
Thoreau carried out detailed observations of spring bird arrival times in Concord from 1851-1854. These observations were continued by later ornithologists, including William Brewster for 1886 and 1900-1919, on up to current years. These combined records allow researchers to use Concord as a living laboratory to investigate how climate change is altering bird populations in one place.
Brewster (1851-1919) was a pioneer in birding methods, research and conservation, and was a leader of an active birding group in the Boston area and a founder of the American Ornithological Union.
A special exhibit about Brewster was recently presented by the Concord Museum.