Blog Birding #115
by Nate Swick
OC Birder Neil Gilbert returns and has a mind to do some bird-watching for a change:
Seriously, though—birding, at least for me, has become an assassin’s business. A flash of black and yellow! Bins up: Townsend’s Warbler. Bins down. End of story. The individual bird is a nobody, a misunderstood and unappreciated cog in the wheel of our superficial birding pleasure.Birding, birder—these designations release a slight bitter taste in my brain. So, I decided to go birdwatching. Accoutered with only binoculars and sketchpad, I headed out the door to find a bird to watch for half an hour. Just the two of us—me and the bird—for thirty minutes.
As you bird in different areas you are likely to see some unusual species or high numbers that trip the eBird filter. Soon thereafter, you get an email with the subject: "Question about your [bird name] observation in eBird." Rather than shuffle these off to your spam filter (kidding!) look at these emails from eBird Reviewers as a chance to get to know an expert in an area.
OK, first off, it is possible that the local Reviewer is NOT the most expert person on the bird status of that county. But they were the most expert to volunteer to be the eBird Reviewer for that county.
If you were lucky enough to receive some type of Apple iOS device (iPad, iPad mini, iPhone or iPod touch) for Christmas, you are probably looking for some recommendations of apps to load onto your phone to enhance your birding experience. You are in luck, because there is a lot of great stuff out there, and we have tried them all (I think so at least). From bird finding apps, to field guides, to communication apps, there are some fantastic resources for birders at every level. Are there any great apps we missed that enhance your birding experience?
Color is the major identification criterion used by birders and non-birders. If a non-birder were asked the names of the birds in the photographs above, he or she would probably answer correctly. Coloration can be simply observed, as in this example, but is actually much more complex than I imagined.
Several months ago, I read Geoffrey E. Hill’s book, National Geographic Bird Coloration to expand my birding knowledge and skills. The topic I found most interesting was how bird coloration is produced.
Pat Bumstead, writing at Birding is Fun, searches for the "Hoary" Grail at her feeders in Calgary:
My yard has been part of the local Christmas Bird Count for several years. In preparation for the day, I spent a great deal of time practicing an accurate count of these flighty little finches. With feeders in both the front and back yards, I did a lot of laps through the house.
Common Redpolls are tiny birds in constant motion. Even when eating, there is always movement with birds flitting in and out, squabbling over food and the best locations. Add in the fact they travel in mixed flocks with House Finches and it's enough to make your eyes go crossed.