aba events

    Better Birding is Made in the Shade

    Warbler, hooded belleplain nj april 24 2011 dpf 002-1

    [I got right under this newly arrived Hooded Warbler in Belleplain State Forest, NJ by staying in the shade.]

    It seems so simple and obvious, yet hardly anybody does it. Let’s say we’re walking along a woods edge, and want to stop to look for birds. Where are we going to stop? Obviously, we want to stop where we can see birds well, so perhaps we’ll choose to stop near a little gap or cove in the forest where we can see in. Of course we’ll stop if we actually see birds. We’ll try to stop where if we move our feet to get a slightly better angle, our footsteps will be on quiet grass or dirt, not gravel or crunchy leaves. But there is one other important factor to consider: whenever possible, stop in the shade.

    Sticking to the shadows implies staying out of sight, and that’s exactly what we want to do when we’re birding. Ideally, we keep the birds in the sun, the sun at our backs, and our bodies motionless and in the shade, because in that situation wildlife of all sorts has a hard time knowing we’re around. Even if only part of the human form is shaded, and part is still in full sun, the effect is to break up the human outline, making it harder for birds to detect us, their potential predator. Always try to keep your face shaded – human faces are shiny, and they move a lot. Binocular objective lenses flash when aimed at the sun, a potential warning sign to birds.

    Shade does more than hide us. It helps us see much better. Everyone knows you can’t see well squinting into the sun. In contrast, our pupils actually dilate in the shade, letting more light in. When birding into the sun, simply standing in the shade of a single tree trunk, telephone pole, or street sign makes a huge difference in what we can see, and what sees us. If you’re in a group, and there is only one tree or pole around, line everybody up to the shadow, so you are all in the shade. The only downside to being in the shade is that it can be chilly, but hotter birding will make up for that. Give shade birding a try next time you are afield.

    The following two tabs change content below.
    Don Freiday

    Don Freiday

    Outdoorsman since childhood and a professional naturalist for over 25 years, Don Freiday organizes and leads birding field trips and tours for New Jersey Audubon’s Cape May Bird Observatory. His writing on birds and birding appear on The Freiday Bird Blog, (http://freidaybird.blogspot.com/) . Don’s Wildlife Science degree is from Rutgers University, where for a time he taught Wildlife Ecology and Environmental Education to undergraduates. Don's outdoor pursuits include hunting, fishing, backpacking, canoeing, photography, and, of course, birding almost every day.
    Don Freiday

    Latest posts by Don Freiday (see all)

    Birders know well that the healthiest, most dynamic choruses contain many different voices. The birding community encompasses a wide variety of interests, talents, and convictions. All are welcome.
    If you like birding, we want to hear from you.
    Read More »

    Recent Comments

    Categories

    Authors

    Archives

    Enter your email address to subscribe to this blog and receive notifications of new posts by email.

    • Cape May Youth Autumn Birding Day 2014 February 5, 2015 7:05
      The Cape May Autumn Birding Festival is a weekend long event that is in its 68th year now, making it the longest-running birding festival in North America. […]
    • Young Birder Blog Birding #36 December 30, 2014 6:50
      As the year winds down, many of us are enjoying or preparing for Christmas Bird Counts! […]
    • Open Mic: Birds of the Black Forest Fire December 23, 2014 7:01
      When I took on the challenge of the 2014 Young Birder of the Year Contest, I was fully aware that it would be the hardest thing I had ever done. I planned to devote myself to the study of birds for nearly six months spending hours each day compiling a field notebook, studying nest boxes, […]

    Follow ABA on Twitter