Former Audubon director shares new birding book at weekend signing

Frank Gallo, former associate director of the Connecticut Audubon Society Coastal Center in Milford, has written a new birding guide called “Birding in Connecticut,” which he presented and signed at the Audubon in Milford Sunday.

Gallo hopes the book will benefit birders and conservation authorities alike. It is described as “the definitive guide to where, when and how to find birds in the state.”

The book includes a list of rare bird sightings, tips and tricks to help find and identify birds, information on the habits and habitats of Connecticut’s birdlife, and QR codes, a type of bar code that allows the reader to link to continually updated information on the occurrence and abundance of birds at each location. Gallo said the codes allow for studying behaviors such as habitat and migration in an interactive manner.

“[Birding] is a moving target,” Gallo said. “It's interesting to watch how people use the book.”

Gallo, who leads birding tours in New England with Sunrise Birding, said the goal is for birders to feel as though they are observing and hiking alongside him.

Gallo said he approached the guide holistically, describing sites that are most representative for a certain bird. Other ways to use the book are to look for more rare birds within an area, or to search for birds based on habitat and where they are in a given season. The book also includes photographs and conveniences such as parking and restrooms.

Pat Williams Jeffrey and Jon Jeffrey attended the book signing. The two visited Milford to attend the upcoming Milford High School All-Class Reunion, and were looking for something to do during their stay. Pat said her interest in birds comes from her mother, who could identify birds by their song.

Gallo said he first became interested in birds when he was four, when his grandmother's Maine coon cat snatched a red woodpecker in front of him. He said he held the bird, and remembers it well, but he did not see the same bird again for 20 years. After a field ornithology class at Southern Connecticut State University, Gallo was hooked.

April Kelly is a former colleague of Gallo's from the New Canaan Nature Center, where she and Gallo taught school and summer programs for children. Before this guide, she said, most books were strictly field guides and identified hot spots to view certain birds, but did not involve user involvement or more in-depth seasonal information.

Gallo said his main concern for birds in Connecticut involves a declining population of insects, which birds eat. He also said Connecticut birds face many predators, including house cats and window panes, which kill millions of birds each year.

The author viewed Milford’s Audubon as the perfect place to sign and discuss his new book. There are birds traveling down the river and down the coast, stopping at the Audubon’s Coastal Center in Milford, Gallo said. There, birds, including ospreys, can rest and feed, on camera, and can be viewed from a great window and hiking spots along the beach.