Neil Stewart with non-bird friend finds Cumberland Crossings to be a bird-watcher's "paradise."

Cumberland Crossings 'paradise' for avid bird-watcher

Carlisle, Pa. Monday September 30, 2013

The names are as varied as the list is long: Tufted Titmouse, Olive-sided Flycatcher, Sharp-shinned Hawk, and Dark-Eyed Junco.

While these are only a few examples of the nearly 80 different species of birds Neil Stewart has sighted and identified since moving to Cumberland Crossings in 2009, they easily spark the imagination of what birdwatchers can look forward to when strolling the Diakon Senior Living Community campus in Carlisle, Pa.

Recognized by fellow residents as Cumberland Crossings’ in-house “bird expert,” Stewart enjoys any opportunity to share what he can about his latest sighting.

“It is fun for me to do it,” says Stewart, who admits his binoculars often are a dead giveaway that he is on the lookout for winged visitors. “They ask me about different birds. It is a talking point.”

“Sometimes I’m not out with the intention of bird-watching. They just come by.”

Stewart has enjoyed his bird-watching pastime since he was a young boy growing up in Nebraska. “I can’t remember not doing it,” he says. “My grandfather was a quite a birdwatcher, too.”

Neil Stewart has painted a number of the birds he has seen. Here is one of his wonderfully done illustrations.

Neil Stewart has painted a number of the birds he has seen. Here is one of his wonderfully done illustrations.

 

While he can identify some birds on sight thanks to years of studying varied colorations and bird songs, he often relies on his Peterson Field Guide to make a proper identification.

“A lot of people are well-trained in bird sounds. I know quite a few, but I’m more of a land-birder,” he says. “Shore birds tend to sing, and I haven’t spent much time on the ocean.”

There isn’t much need to travel to the shore since Stewart has found the Carlisle area to be a perfect backdrop for his hobby. “A lot of times I’m not out [with the intent] of bird-watching,” he says. “I’m just walking and they happen to come by.”

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