Two Winter Goals of a Beginning Birder
Lately, I’ve grown tired of my birding skills…or lack thereof, I should say.
I’ve gone on several naturalist-led hikes this summer and fall. We walk through the woods, prairie or marsh identifying plants, trees, insects and birds.
My bird identification skills consist of this:
I see a bird in a tree, on the ground, in the air, perched on a cattail.
I say “Look, there’s a bird!”.
Nothing more. I don’t dare say that out loud.
People in the group are calling out names, including genus and species, behaviors, where they saw them last, what the call is, etc.
How embarrassing would it be for me to say, “Oh, I know. It’s a bird. I saw one yesterday, too!
Now, to give myself some credit, I can identify the following birds:
There’s probably a few more but you get the idea.
This week I decided enough was enough. I need to improve my bird identification skills.
Now, mind you, I am 64 years old, wear hearing aids (I have lost the upper range of hearing in both ears), am having some eyesight issues, and on many days have limited mobility in my neck due to RA. So, I need to consider all these factors when deciding what the best steps are in studying birds.
I spent several hours reading every birding guide at the local bookstore to determine what my first steps should be in improving my avian knowledge given my set of circumstances.
These are the 2 goals I want to accomplish during the winter months:
- Learn the silhouettes of the major bird families. I chose this goal because I am sick and tired of seeing a bird darting among the trees and not being able to at least identify it by family. To accomplish this goal, I found a great image of bird silhouettes by family at BirdSleuth which is the website for the Cornell Laboratory of Ornithology. It is a great website with tons of information.
2. Learn the basic physical features and habits of each bird family. There are two steps to this goal.
- Study and relearn the terms for bird external anatomy. The guides I read said this is extremely important in being able to talk about the distinctive physical features and markings of different birds.
- Study the basic physical features and habits for each bird family. For me, this will involve making a set of flashcards with the silhouette on one side, and the information on the other. I am a visual learner so making the cards myself helps me to learn the information.
Do you want to learn more about birds and bird identification?
How would you go about learning this information?
Here are some great websites for learning more about birding.
Cornell Laboratory of Ornithology
The American Birding Organization
National Audubon Society
Have a great day and Happy Birding!
All photographs courtesy of Pixabay.com