Resources for aspiring birding enthusiasts
This post is the second of several related to birding in and around Dickeyville. Below are resources to assist in your bird spotting pursuits.
The blog will come with photos, many created by me and some taken from the internet. I am using a Canon 60D digital camera with a Canon 100 – 400 mm, f4.5-5.6 zoom lens. I mount the camera on a tripod and place it close to my kitchen window so it is ready to go whenever I am in the kitchen. My bird feeder is about 20 feet from the camera. For even closer shots, I throw a little bird feed on a retaining wall that is only five or six feet from the camera.
The sharp shinned hawk swooped down on my bird feeder with the intention of making a lunch of one of the house finches that was feeding there. “Sharpies” are small as hawks go, about 12 inches from the tip of the beak to the end of the tail. He (or she) was unsuccessful in snaring the finch, but hung around long enough that I was able to get some nice photos.
The cardinal and the squirrel (with my house reflected in his eye) are examples of photos of birds on the retaining wall. The Wood Duck photo was a hand held shot taken near the dam.
The Peterson and Audubon Bird Guides are excellent. There are many others, but these are the two I am familiar with. They cover the US and Canada but not other countries. Books for birding in many other countries are available on Amazon or Barnes and Noble.
Internet/Smart Phone Apps
Audubon puts out a free and amazingly powerful application for both PCs and smart phones. The PC version is available at http://www.audubon.org/bird-guide. This is a wonderful website that includes beautiful photographs, range maps, and song recordings. It allows you to search by “Name” and “Region” making it possible to limit your search to the mid-Atlantic region if desired. It also has links to bird cams that allow you to watch nesting birds in real time.
- The Audubon smart phone app is available from any app store or here [http://www.audubonguides.com/field-guides/bird-identification-app.html]. You have a choice of downloading the entire database or just the Wifi connecting link.
- Please note, the first option will take up a good sized chunk of your phone’s memory but it eliminates the need for a Wifi connection which makes it a good choice if you expect to be birding in a remote area with limited cell phone connectivity.
- If you are going on a serious birding expedition to a remote area, you can always download the database, erase it later, and revert to the Wifi version.
I aim to use the following categories throughout my blog posts and photos. Hopefully this will be a helpful guide to classify birds discussed in future posts.
- Rare – zero or one sighting a year
- Uncommon – two to four sightings a year
- Fairly common – once or twice a month
- Common – once a week
- Abundant – birds seen on almost every outing
(** for a birder who takes an hour birding walk once a week)
- VS = Very small (titmouse, chickadee, wren)
- S = Small (warblers, sparrows, finches)
- M = Medium (robins, jays, catbirds, cardinal)
- ML = Medium Large (common grackles, red-bellied woodpecker, crow)
- L = Large (red-tailed hawks, red shouldered hawk, osprey)
- VL = Very Large (great blue heron, eagle, vulture)
Time of Year
- Spring Migration (April 15 to May 31)
- Fall Migration (September 15 to October 31)
I am happy to respond to questions, preferably by email (or by phone) with contact details available in the Dickeyville Directory.
By Jim Hawthorne, Dickeyville Birder