Saturday, July 9, 2011

Birding 101: Birding by Ear

When we started bird watching, I thought being able to distinguish between bird songs was some kind of special ability that only truly gifted naturalists possessed.  I never imagined that the boys and I would be able to quickly and easily identify a long list of birds just by hearing their songs/calls.

Birding by ear took birding to a whole new level for us, and I highly recommend you take some time to listen to recordings and do memory work indoors so that you can have greater success while outdoors.  It's a lot more fun than it sounds.

Mnemonics have helped us greatly, and over at Olive Plants, I published a little piece about it last year.  Rather than write a new post, I'll just link you to it.  Fly on over to get a list of our favorite mnemonics and other birding by ear resources!

Though slow-going, this series is not dead!  Subscribe or follow so you won't miss any of our future posts on how to teach your kids to use a field guide, write bird stories, keep a birding journal and life list, and much more!

Consider keeping a journal of the birds you hear or see this month and Tweet and See with Heather.  You can link in with other bird enthusiasts on the last day of each month.  I really enjoy reading the reports of birders from Georgia to Washington.  Maybe one day we'll be able to read reports from around the world!

Until we tweet again....

Friday, July 1, 2011

Tweet and See: June 2011

Visit Kingdom Arrows
for more Tweet and See fun!

We had a great month of birding.  The backyard is still in disarray as my husband is completing a backyard remodel which includes the removal of a rather large magnolia tree. 

The Magnolia Tree sans Branches
The trunk is about to go soon.  :(

However, I am an English tutor who travels to the homes of my students.  While driving around town this month, I saw lots birds.  Then, on the last day of June, we went to a local state park (one of my favorite local spots) and identified 39 species.  Some were on the list already, but most were new additions.

One of the birds I saw in a student's neighborhood: the Killdeer!
My husband took this picture at the lake,
not in the subdivision, however.

Here's our list:
  1. Killdeer
  2. Barn Swallow
  3. Carolina Wren
  4. Brown Thrasher
  5. Northern Mockingbird
  6. American Robin
  7. Eastern Bluebird
  8. Blue Jay
  9. Belted Kingfisher
  10. Great Blue Heron
  11. Red-headed Woodpecker
  12. Black Vulture
  13. Turkey Vulture
  14. Broad-winged Hawk
  15. Chipping Sparrow
  16. Red-bellied Woodpecker
  17. Pileated Woodpecker
  18. Downy Woodpecker
  19. Eastern-wood PeeWee
  20. Osprey
  21. Bank Swallow
  22. Snow Goose
  23. Fish Crow
  24. American Crow
  25. Tree Swallow
  26. Northern Rough-winged Swallow
  27. Great-crested Flycatcher
  28. Common Grackle
  29. Palm Warbler
  30. Pine Warbler
  31. Canada Goose
  32. Eastern Kingbird
  33. Yellow-bellied Sapsucker
  34. Catbird
  35. Brown-headed Nuthatch
  36. Cape May Warbler
  37. Northern Parula
  38. Eastern Phoebe
  39. Mallard
  40. Mourning Dove
  41. Tufted Titmouse
  42. House Sparrow
  43. Rock Dove
  44. Green Heron
  45. Cowbird

Hubs took this pix during our birding outing.
This is one of his faves.
The bluebird really is looking at two
eastern kingbirds.
That's not a digital trick!

The Best Birdie Moments:
  1. While stopped at a red light on a main thoroughfare, a red-headed woodpecker landed in front of our car, grabbed a bit of food, and flew off just as we started to move again.  
  2. Killdeer have nested in the brush behind the house of one of my students.  The "dad" hops around the back porch, singing away, while I tutor.  From time-to-time the "baby" comes out to sing, too,.  VERY CUTE!
  3. While driving from one student's house to another, I saw a bird perched on a wire, quickly found a place to pull over, and spotted the broad-winged hawk!
  4. One of my students went with us to the state park, and we had a great time teaching him how to identify birds!  After we left the state park, I decided spur-of-the-moment to drive over to a local marina.  Sitting on the edge of a pond beside the marina was the green heron on our list.  My student got to see LOTS of interesting birds that day!  Too bad the camera batteries had died by the time we reached the marina.

Favorite Pictures
Eastern Kingbird

Canada Geese
We THINK this is a female
Brown-headed Cowbird.
She was hanging out with this male cowbird.
More Cowbirds
If you think we're right,
please let us know.
If you know we're wrong,
please help.
Red-headed woodpeckers
were common visitors this month.
I think they're just beautiful!

Another beauty...
The Great Crested Flycatcher!

Happy Tweeting!