Birding – In This Case, Its really Ok To Be A Bird Brain!
Birding seems to be a relatively peaceful and laid back pastime. But, in reality this is are a very active and excitable group! You might travel far and wide to add to your list of found birds. You keep these findings in a "Life List" in which you keep extensive records of those spotted. As you partake in this pastime, you will likely meet others that share your passion for our feathered friends. I know I do! There are many clubs and groups that you can join to share your successes and missed opportunities.
John J. Audubon is the most notable person associated with this pastime. In his late teens, about 1803, Audubon began observing the nesting patterns and habitat of those local to that area. He also noticed that they return to the same location every year. While traveling across the US, Audubon created detailed colored paintings of those he observed. He published his paintings and observations in “The Birds of America” which was the summary of decades of work. It was after the publishing of this book that this pastime really started to gain public interest. The first modern field guide, “A Field Guide to the Birds” was published in 1934 by Roger Tory Peterson. Since then the pastime has had a period of explosive growth.
This pastime needs no special setting to see results. You can observe birds in your backyard, at the local park, or at the beach to name only a few places. Each of these type of habitats will have its own characteristics and therefore opportunities to observe and add to you life list.
During fall and spring there will be additional opportunities as migration takes place from their summer and winter areas. Some of these feathered critters sport bright breeding plumage during the early spring. Get yourself started early in the day as the best opportunities for viewing are usually from dawn to mid-morning. As the heat of the day builds, many feathered friends become less active and therefore harder to spot.
Wetlands, streams, lakes and woods make great spotting locations as water is a critical factor to living and raising their young. If you can, hook up with an experienced watcher who can give you pointers on spotting and how to document your finds.
Here are the long and short of items you need to supply:
Binoculars or spotting scope
Pad and pencil for making sketches and notes
Comfortable clothing and walking shoes
And last but not least, a camera.
Here are some of the characteristics to look for in their appearance and behavior during the identification process:
Look for color and markings. Though most are brown, you might see small specks of color in the form of streaks, specks, wing bars, eye rings, distinctive cap or underbelly.
Note how big the it is. Observe body shapes such as its bill, tail, wings.
Watch how it moves around. Does it flit around nervously or climb around on tree branches. Does it like to stay on the ground or up higher.
Use your field guide to become familiar with the breeds to expect in your observing area. But, every once in awhile, you may find one that has strayed from its home area.
Listen to the noise it makes, how it calls or chirps. Once you are familiar with these sounds, this information will go far to help with identification.
Invite local feathered friends to your own backyard. Make or buy a simple seed feeder, fill it with seed and it won't be long before you have your own flock to watch. Another item that really brings them around is a source of water. A simple dish of water or a lovely ornate bath. They really don't care what it looks like so you can get creative.
So, that basically is all there is to it. Jump in, get started. It really is a wonderful and rewarding pastime!
Other descriptors include birdwatcher, audubon society, find a hobby and fun hobbies.
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