The date of July 17, 1918 was marked in the calendar of Bostonians as the fifth anniversary of the Brookline Bird Club. There was a birthday party at “Lake Walden” to celebrate the event, and attendees were encouraged to “Take Luncheon”!

Sadly, the BBC’s birthday party ended up not being the major news from that year. As we now take action to protect ourselves from Covid–19, there are many reminders in our current news of the pandemic that started in 1918. But it was also an interesting time for our fledgling bird club. The BBC has a rich archive of club records, much of which was recently scanned into electronic format. If you’re stuck inside, want to see what life was like for the club over 100 years ago, take a look at the club bulletins (blue book) from 1918. (Click on the image to the right.)

Highlights include a lecture given on March 25, 1918 by the State Ornithologist, Edward Howe Forbush, which was illustrated with “colored lantern slides”. Like most club meetings, this was held in the public library in Brookline. And who wouldn’t want to be a fly on the wall of the meeting later that year, on December 3, when Dr. Eugene W. Afford gave “whistling imitations of Notes and Songs of our Common Birds”.

Perhaps surprisingly, there were no trips to Mt Auburn Cemetery in 1918, a staple of our modern spring schedule. According to club historian John Nelson, Mt Auburn doesn’t appear in his archival notes until after the war, when a Chuck-will’s-widow was recorded on a club trip there in 1952.

On a larger scale, 1918 was important for conservation as the year of the Migratory Bird Treaty Act. Signed by the United States (under the presidency of Woodrow Wilson) and Great Britain (on behalf of Canada), the law prohibited (with some exceptions granted by federal permit) the hunting and killing of birds. We are indebted to that act for the rich avifauna that we can still enjoy today.

Stay healthy during this time. And, if you’re interested, do to take a minute to read through the archive from 1918 to see where the club was leading walks, and how much a return on the trolley would have cost you to get there.

Click on the image above to view the 1918 club bulletin.