Friday, May 1, 2009

Bird Nerd by Proxy

My sister Lauren is into bird watching, and she has introduced Bess to it as well. Bess usually has her trusted Peterson's Field Guide to Birds of Eastern and Central North America (5th Edition) and binoculars in tow whenever we go hiking or to the park. In fact, it's her favorite book, and we've spent hours poring over the pictures, talking about the birds' habitats, diets, and physical characteristics, and playing "school" with this as our textbook.

Personally, I've always liked birds well enough but never really paid them all that much attention aside from the obvious birds, like cardinals, blue jays, robins, bluebirds and chickadees. We have feeders outside, but between the chipmunks, the squirrels and the bear, there usually isn't much left for the birds to eat. Now, however, I am feeling like I should start learning more about identification and bird calls so that I can help Bess develop this interest, and her attention span and observational skills along with it.

We downloaded the Peterson's Guide for my iPhone, so that we can use it to identify bird calls while we're out and about - since the birds often blend in to their surroundings, we often find them most easily by following their sound. Today while we were at our Walkabout at Schiff, we saw two birds in particular that I am sure we've seen a million times but never noticed before,. As far as we can tell, one was a rose-breasted grosbeak (what an amazing song he had - and we know it was a "he" because of his feathers) and the other was a female red-breasted nuthatch (we think).

We may have to make a birding journal this weekend!


  1. hey! So cool! And yes, a rose breasted grosbeak indeed. They've been flying through Central Texas also along with the buntings and orioles. Migration is in full swing so keep your eyes on the skies! And in the tree tops too. I've been to Schiff! And the Great Swamp is another good place to see lots of birds.

  2. Woops. I was signed in under my Future Craft Collective partner's name. She's never been to Schiff! but I have!

  3. For the ultimate in Bird Nerd-ness, check out the Cornell Lab of Ornithology The site is full of information about different species, and you can even do your bird journal on line with their eBird feature; I just signed up this week! But I will admit that my favorite part is their nestcam feature... I'm in love with the Barn Owl mom! It's the only bird that has actual live feed (the others are still shots posted every 30 seconds), so you can watch her in action- rotating eggs, getting up for a stretch, even eating mice! The eggs should be hatching soon, so you'll be able to watch their development. (I followed the Bluebird from incubation to the point where you couldn't tell which was the mom and which was baby- "so big!") Bess will love it! (Wow, I sound like a commercial!!)