Thursday, February 17, 2011

Birding 101: The camera is your friend.

In our early days of bird watching,
we played games to learn to use binoculars with ease.

However, birds are movers and shakers!  We do not always get the time to watch a bird for as long as we need to make an accurate identification.

Sometimes, even when we get a good, long look at a bird, there still is not enough time to take in all the details.  The differences between some birds, particularly sparrows, are minute and challenge even seasoned bird watchers.

Can you tell which birds are at this feeder?

It did not take long for me to realize that the camera is our friend!

While the boys would look through binocs, I would look through the lens of my camera and snap as many shots as possible.  If time allowed, I would switch to the video camera and record the bird in action.  This allowed us to notice more about the bird's movements and habitat, an important part of nature study.

Even if you can't get in close enough with your camera
to get a crystal-clear view... can zoom in even closer
with your photo editor,
giving you the view you need
to make a positive i.d.

At the end of each birding outing, we would sit down in a shady spot or return home and look through my photo journal of the day.  It was very  easy to notice details in the photos and match our pictures to the pictures in our field guides.

The best part was that the birds we identified this way became cemented in our visual memories.  Soon we could identify a large number of birds without the assistance of a field guide.  We often double check, just to be sure!  However, the camera has been our best teacher.

You can email pictures of birds
to birding friends for confirmation, too.
Two heads are always better than one.
Heather and I regularly email pictures to each other.
At least I do, when I have a working camera!
I borrowed all the pictures in this post from her.
Thanks Heather!
After the boys had seen several close-up shots of all those pretty bird details, they wanted to create sketches of their own!  Next time I will tweet about how we incorporated bird sketching into our school day!

Until we tweet again...
Dawn, for the Olive Plants

1 comment:

  1. OK, I just learned last night how to zoom in with picasa. I am really slow on this digital thing.


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