Watching the birdies

I was never much of a bird-watcher. I liked them and enjoyed feeding them, but except for ooh-ing and ah-ing over the odd goldfinch or bluebird that dropped by for a snack, I wasn’t overly interested in the types of birds that visited my backyard.

That changed over the last few years as I visited the local state park more often and took more frequent walks along the area nature trails. The more shore birds, hawks, falcons, and songbirds I saw, the more interested I grew in learning to identify them. I downloaded Merlin Bird ID, The Cornell Lab of Ornithology bird identification app, and entered the birds I spotted. Then I started watching the birds that fed in my backyard a little more closely, the ways they interacted and the different foods they preferred, and decided I wanted to learn more.

Project Feederwatch is a joint program designed by The Cornell Lab of Ornithology and Bird Studies Canada to gather information about winter bird feeding across North America. The 2017-2018 program, which is the 31st season, began on 11 November, Veterans Day and runs until 13 April 2018. You select a portion of your yard as the count site, choose the days on which you will count, and follow the instructions about how to count and which birds to add to your tallies. Further details are available at the website.

Given that I have trouble telling some species apart, I plan on waiting to begin my observations until I work through The CLO’s online self-paced course entitled “Feeder Bird Identification and Behavior.” It begins today, 13 November. I dug out the old binoculars I inherited from my dad and set them near the south window overlooking the feeder site. I’m even considering buying a good camera with a telephoto lens so that I can take decent photographs.

I’m sure that this is all just a phase and I will be able to quit anytime I want to.