Are you seeing the return of migratory birds? A few days ago, I noticed two Robins outside of our kitchen windows. I was excited to see them, as I know the return of these birds is a sign of spring!
The following day I also saw three sparrows. Today, I saw two chickadees. The black-capped chickadees stay all winter long. I know that and saw them periodically during the colder, darker months. They would tantalize our yellow lab by flying out of the Norway Spruce that line the north side of our yard. I am not sure about the sparrows, as I do not know which type they were or whether they travel south to escape our cold weather. In any case, they are back!
One of my personal goals this year is to become better at birding. I can recognize a number of birds by sight such as goldfinches, robins, purple finch, red-winged blackbirds, black-capped chickadees, bald eagles, great blue herons, bluejays, bluebirds, cardinals, and Baltimore orioles. But, that’s about it. And, other than one or two of the above species, I cannot recognize any by sound.
I have a handheld device that we got when our sons were small that will help somewhat – Identiflyer. And, I can use the e-bird website and e-bird mobile app for identification on the go. This website also allows me to report my sightings, too. When you do this as a layperson you are acting as what is known as a Citizen Scientist. I have been reporting data since 2006 as a Citizen Scientist to the website Journey North. Primarily, I reported on the arrival of monarchs (first sighted) and milkweed eruption in the spring. But, I have also reported on the arrival of hummingbirds. On Saturday, I added a robin sighting to my personal data list on Journey North. Reporting to this site will allow me year after year to go back and track the timing of the seasonal change in my area by using when these migratory species arrived in my yard/community.
The Audobon Society and Cornell Lab of Ornithology are both great resources to use for an introduction to birding. The great part about becoming involved in birding is that you are outside, you need nothing more than your powers of observation, a set of binoculars (if available), and a field guide (again, if available). While our students are corralled at home during this unprecedented period of time, birding might be an activity worth considering. Enrichment is always important for kids, and even some adults, and now it might be more important than ever!
Don’t forget that you have until March 20th to vote on a photo you like from my 1,000th blog post celebration (yesterday). Just leave a comment and the number of the photo you like best. The winner will receive a photo of their choice from those listed for the voting! Good Luck!