Author Topic: Birding, how to get started?  (Read 2610 times)

Parizade

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Re: Birding, how to get started?
« Reply #50 on: May 21, 2019, 06:34:36 AM »
Loons are still super close to my heart. As a kid, I got to enjoy 2 years of chemotherapy. (Enjoy is probably a strong word). My folks managed to get us up to Canada for a fishing trip between treatments, and the loons were a completely new thing for me at that time. It was the first time in months that I'd had a break from needles and angry nurses and calloused doctors. Hearing loons still brings me back to the sense of relief I had that trip.

@brute, your post broke my heart a little. I hope you've told this to your parents, I can only imagine how much the trip meant to them.

I will think of your words now whenever I hear a loon, just one more reason to appreciate their haunting call.

Linea_Norway

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Re: Birding, how to get started?
« Reply #51 on: May 21, 2019, 06:42:26 AM »
Sorry, not read everything yet.

We are not real birders, but generally interested in birds. We have traveled to several places in our country just to see birds. I have a simple bird book, which seems pretty complete for the birds that I have looked up.

I recently learned about this website, where you can learn about birds and do quizzes. https://www.birdid.no/
It is european, so it's not sure you have the same birds over there in the US.

We like to use a camera with good, general tele lens when watching birds. It is still a medium size, very sharp tele lens with zoom, but no extreme canon like real birders have.
With binoculars you will have to remember what the bird looks like, look into your book and look back at the bird, which might have moved or flown away. If you manage to snap a picture, it is much easier to look it up in the bird book.
We also use binoculars, in my case a waterproof Nikon 30mm 8x pocket bino that I also bring along on long hiking trips with heavy backpack.

This weekend we go to our cabin and it should be the time of the year that lots of migratory birds will spend some time there. I expect there to be a lot of water after the snow melting and that attracts birds who like wetness.

Next weekend we will go paddling in Sweden and on those lakes we will see a lot of water birds, which by now are a bit familiar. We have been there a number of times before. There is usually also a nest of a predator bird.
« Last Edit: May 21, 2019, 07:19:52 AM by Linea_Norway »

wenchsenior

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Re: Birding, how to get started?
« Reply #52 on: May 21, 2019, 08:29:58 AM »
Loons are still super close to my heart. As a kid, I got to enjoy 2 years of chemotherapy. (Enjoy is probably a strong word). My folks managed to get us up to Canada for a fishing trip between treatments, and the loons were a completely new thing for me at that time. It was the first time in months that I'd had a break from needles and angry nurses and calloused doctors. Hearing loons still brings me back to the sense of relief I had that trip.

This story gives me Feelings. 

CowboyAndIndian

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Re: Birding, how to get started?
« Reply #53 on: May 21, 2019, 11:39:54 AM »
@brute, great story. Was'nt the Loon the bird in "On Golden Pond" with Jane and Peter Fonda?

@frugalnacho, similar to you, I got started as I was sick.

frugalnacho

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Re: Birding, how to get started?
« Reply #54 on: May 21, 2019, 07:48:42 PM »
Saw a male common yellowthroat in my garden today! First time I've ever seen one.

Not my picture, but this is the bird:


wenchsenior

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Re: Birding, how to get started?
« Reply #55 on: May 21, 2019, 09:15:06 PM »
OOOO, NICE!

I've only recorded yellowthroats twice in our yard in almost 2 decades...

If you want to try to see more, hang around water and listen for them (ear-piercingly high "WITCHITY WITCHITY WITCHITY" )and try to track the little buggers that way. They are vociferous!
« Last Edit: May 21, 2019, 09:19:25 PM by wenchsenior »

brute

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Re: Birding, how to get started?
« Reply #56 on: May 22, 2019, 05:34:30 AM »
Warblers are great, but I definitely struggle with them. Over the weekend we got out mushroom hunting and my wife was pointing out everything by ear. I'm finally getting a few down, but the main one was the scarlet tanager. Now that i know which bird that the "chick-burrrr" call belongs to, I doubt I'll forget it. I like it when it's distinctive, helps out a novice like me quite a lot.

Linea_Norway

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Re: Birding, how to get started?
« Reply #57 on: May 22, 2019, 07:12:27 AM »
Talking about sounds: at our cabin there is sometimes a boreal owl (Aegolius funereus). It makes a very distinct sound that we have learned by playing of the various owl sounds on a bird website. Then one evening we went outside on out terrace, in the pitch dark and played off the sound from the laptop a couple of times. That resulted in the (small) owl flowing straight towards us. It only backed off within half a meter from our heads. A bit scary, but very exciting.

I hope that in the coming weekend we will see the common crane (Grus grus) that is mating/nesting in that area at this time of the year. You can hear them from a long distance, because they are extremely loud. They are very big birds. Sometimes you can see them dancing (and occasionally mating), but only from a distance, sitting in the car, when they don't notice you.

wenchsenior

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Re: Birding, how to get started?
« Reply #58 on: May 22, 2019, 07:43:55 AM »
Warblers are great, but I definitely struggle with them. Over the weekend we got out mushroom hunting and my wife was pointing out everything by ear. I'm finally getting a few down, but the main one was the scarlet tanager. Now that i know which bird that the "chick-burrrr" call belongs to, I doubt I'll forget it. I like it when it's distinctive, helps out a novice like me quite a lot.

There's always a few calls that are easy to learn, thank goodness (like the common yellowthroat).  Summer tanagers sound similar to robins; if I hear a 'robin' in a southwestern riparian area, I always check and it's always a summer tanager.

wenchsenior

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Re: Birding, how to get started?
« Reply #59 on: May 22, 2019, 07:50:46 AM »
Talking about sounds: at our cabin there is sometimes a boreal owl (Aegolius funereus). It makes a very distinct sound that we have learned by playing of the various owl sounds on a bird website. Then one evening we went outside on out terrace, in the pitch dark and played off the sound from the laptop a couple of times. That resulted in the (small) owl flowing straight towards us. It only backed off within half a meter from our heads. A bit scary, but very exciting.


Thank goodness owls respond to audio during breeding season or it would be hard to ever survey for them!  DH has called in more Great Horned Owls (using his own vocal imitation, which is amazing) than I can count over the years.  I can call in Spotted Owls (not that they are easy to find, of course) and Barred Owls (very easy to find) using my own vocalizations.  I'm spotty with Elf Owls...it's hard to get the exact pitch of their 'sneezy' alarm call right using a human voice, but sometimes I'm on point.  For the rest, recordings are the best.

Interestingly, if you broadcast a large owl call first (or that of an owl species that kills other birds, such as a Pygmy Owl), it will sometimes prevent the smaller owls from responding. So it's best to go sequentially up the size ladder if calling up different species in the same area.

brute

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Re: Birding, how to get started?
« Reply #60 on: May 22, 2019, 08:03:40 AM »
Talking about sounds: at our cabin there is sometimes a boreal owl (Aegolius funereus). It makes a very distinct sound that we have learned by playing of the various owl sounds on a bird website. Then one evening we went outside on out terrace, in the pitch dark and played off the sound from the laptop a couple of times. That resulted in the (small) owl flowing straight towards us. It only backed off within half a meter from our heads. A bit scary, but very exciting.


Thank goodness owls respond to audio during breeding season or it would be hard to ever survey for them!  DH has called in more Great Horned Owls (using his own vocal imitation, which is amazing) than I can count over the years.  I can call in Spotted Owls (not that they are easy to find, of course) and Barred Owls (very easy to find) using my own vocalizations.  I'm spotty with Elf Owls...it's hard to get the exact pitch of their 'sneezy' alarm call right using a human voice, but sometimes I'm on point.  For the rest, recordings are the best.

Interestingly, if you broadcast a large owl call first (or that of an owl species that kills other birds, such as a Pygmy Owl), it will sometimes prevent the smaller owls from responding. So it's best to go sequentially up the size ladder if calling up different species in the same area.

This is almost precisely what one of the chapters of my wife's thesis was on. It's pretty cool.

frugalnacho

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Re: Birding, how to get started?
« Reply #61 on: May 22, 2019, 08:40:19 AM »
Haha imagine being an owl and getting catfished by some dude.

wbranch

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Re: Birding, how to get started?
« Reply #62 on: May 22, 2019, 09:04:06 AM »
I had a large owl of some sort follow me from the woods back to the farm house on a late evening walk in from the woods. It was about 1.5 miles across mostly open fields with some fence rows. It would swoop down close then fly up in a tree but kept following me. Neat, but also a bit weird wondering what it was up to.

I have been to a few birding tourist destinations. Hawk Ridge in Duluth MN has large migrations in the spring and fall. We went there for biology class in middle/high school for a couple times. Currently live in North Idaho and we have 100s of bald eagles come in the late fall/early winter for spawning kokanee salmon.

We also had at least two pairs of sandhill cranes that nested on our farm in NE Mn. Have some cool pictures on game cameras of the little ones. You can hear their calls from 2 miles away! Also, a loud owl hoot or crow call is a good way to get a tom turkey to gobble in the spring breeding season. Along with a large number of other loud noises from slamming a car door to just shouting.

wenchsenior

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Re: Birding, how to get started?
« Reply #63 on: May 22, 2019, 10:00:57 AM »
I had a large owl of some sort follow me from the woods back to the farm house on a late evening walk in from the woods. It was about 1.5 miles across mostly open fields with some fence rows. It would swoop down close then fly up in a tree but kept following me. Neat, but also a bit weird wondering what it was up to.



It might have been following you hoping you would scare up some rodents out of the grass as you walked.  My husband had one field site with a wild Cooper's hawk that figured out that my husband's activity would flush the songbirds out of the brush. So it would follow him around while he was there.  Essentially, it was identical to what DH would have been doing had he been flying the Coop for falconry purposes (except the bird wouldn't come back to him afterward).

Parizade

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Re: Birding, how to get started?
« Reply #64 on: May 22, 2019, 10:06:55 AM »
I live about an hour away from the Internation Owl Center and the National Eagle Center in SE Minnesota and have visited both. I'm also close to the Upper Mississippi Wildlife Refuge, all of these are bird-lover havens. It's hard to imagine a better place to be as a birder.

I did visit the Whitewater Draw in Arizona last year to see the Sandhill Cranes who overwinter there. It was quite dramatic, 11,000 huge birds making their haunting prehistoric calls. That was also a very worthwhile birding visit.

CowboyAndIndian

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Re: Birding, how to get started?
« Reply #65 on: May 22, 2019, 01:19:44 PM »
Went for a walk in the Delaware Raritan Canal State Park a couple of miles from my home. Like a rank amateur, that I am, I forgot to take binoculars or camera.

My son pointed out a huge bird flying down the canal and we had no clue what it was. Pulled out the Merlin app and shortlisted it to the Great Blue Heron. Luckily, a little later,  I found the bird across the canal and it posed for me while I tried to take a picture of it with my phone. Merlin was able to identify it as the Great Blue Heron.

Another bird that my son pointed out as a cardinal. I see cardinals each day, and it did not fit in the cardinals body shape.  A binocular would have helped a positive id of a cardinal or a scarlet tanager.



« Last Edit: May 22, 2019, 01:28:40 PM by CowboyAndIndian »

wenchsenior

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Re: Birding, how to get started?
« Reply #66 on: May 22, 2019, 01:31:14 PM »
Went for a walk in the Delaware Raritan Canal State Park a couple of miles from my home. Like a rank amateur, that I am, I forgot to take binoculars or camera.

My son pointed out a huge bird flying down the canal and we had no clue what it was. Pulled out the Merlin app and shortlisted it to the Great Blue Heron. Luckily I found the bird across the canal and it posed for me while I tried to take a picture of it with my phone. Merlin was able to identify it as the Great Blue Heron.

Another bird that my son pointed out as a cardinal. I see cardinals each day, and it did not fit in the cardinals body shape.  A binocular would have helped a positive id of a cardinal or a scarlet tanager.

And thus begins the slippery slope of carrying the binocs EVERYWHERE. 

Speaking of interesting sightings, the Great Lakes and Rockies are experiencing an unusual number of Western Tanagers out of range, due to the violent weather.  I'm not sure if they are appearing farther east, but everyone should keep your eyes open.  We get them occasionally in our town/yard during migration, but not commonly.  Pic of male bird from Cornell site.




CowboyAndIndian

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Re: Birding, how to get started?
« Reply #67 on: May 22, 2019, 02:35:24 PM »
On my walk yesterday, I saw a dead black and white warbler lying on the road. 








wenchsenior

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Re: Birding, how to get started?
« Reply #68 on: May 22, 2019, 05:14:26 PM »
Oh, man.  They are lovely birds.

Parizade

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Re: Birding, how to get started?
« Reply #69 on: May 22, 2019, 06:54:15 PM »
@CowboyAndIndian I love great blue herons, it's always fun to see them. I think I may have seen a black and white warbler on my walk Monday but I too neglected to bring binoculars or camers.

@wenchsenior that western tanager is stunning, I would love to see one!

Linea_Norway

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Re: Birding, how to get started?
« Reply #70 on: May 23, 2019, 12:19:32 AM »
DH installed the Merlin bird app yesterday and it works extremely well. I installed it now as well. The picture recognizing is very good, but the app doesn't run so smoothly on my Android phone (when wifi, mobile data and GPS are switched off). I regularly need to restart the app.
I also found an app to identify trees and plants, which is very useful for me as I am trying to learn those.

Parizade

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Re: Birding, how to get started?
« Reply #71 on: May 23, 2019, 12:38:21 AM »
DH installed the Merlin bird app yesterday and it works extremely well. I installed it now as well. The picture recognizing is very good, but the app doesn't run so smoothly on my Android phone (when wifi, mobile data and GPS are switched off). I regularly need to restart the app.
I also found an app to identify trees and plants, which is very useful for me as I am trying to learn those.

Do you use SEEK?
https://www.inaturalist.org/pages/seek_app

mies

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Re: Birding, how to get started?
« Reply #72 on: May 23, 2019, 01:33:34 AM »
What got me into birding was finding a bird that captured my imagination. The Black-Cappped Chickadees is my bird. They're super common where I live and after I was able to hand feed them, I was hooked. They are the cutest damned things and seeing them up close and interacting with them on their terms is really cool.

After those initial encounters, I gobbled up everything I could find about them online via Wikipedia and Cornell.

Learning about related species in other parts of the country and world is also fun. Whenever my wife and I travel, to a spot we know has a different chickadee species, we try to see them. There are 7 in North America and we've managed to see 4 of them (black capped chickadee, mountain chickadee, carolina chickadee, and chestnut backed chickadee). In addition to the chickadees, we've been able to see and identify a ton of other bird species too. I find that birding makes traveling more interesting. You pay closer attention to the wildlife around you.

Parizade

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Re: Birding, how to get started?
« Reply #73 on: May 23, 2019, 06:07:50 AM »
I love chickadees to @mies, they are so bold and friendly. They are also one of the few birds that remain active even on the coldest days of winter. When other birds are puffed up like dandelions and hiding in the trees the chickadees are still bouncing around and singing. It's inspiring to see.

mies

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Re: Birding, how to get started?
« Reply #74 on: May 23, 2019, 09:40:41 AM »
I love chickadees to @mies, they are so bold and friendly. They are also one of the few birds that remain active even on the coldest days of winter. When other birds are puffed up like dandelions and hiding in the trees the chickadees are still bouncing around and singing. It's inspiring to see.

Absolutely! The wintertime is one of the best times to see them. That is the time of year when I will hand feed them. This time of year, they aren't interested in people and sunflower seeds or peanuts. There are bugs to eat and babies to raise :D

If you are lucky when you are hand feeding chickadees, some other species will show up and hand feed also. I've hand fed tufted titmice, white breasted nuthatches, red breasted nuthatches, and on one occasion, a downy woodpecker. None are as bold as the chickadees though.

Sorry to hijack the thread with my chickadee and hand feeding stuff. Finding a bird you like and learning as much about it as possible can be a great gateway to birding.

Parizade

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Re: Birding, how to get started?
« Reply #75 on: May 23, 2019, 11:45:13 AM »
I don't think you hijacked anything, we are all talking about how much we enjoy birds and your story fits right in

CowboyAndIndian

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Re: Birding, how to get started?
« Reply #76 on: May 23, 2019, 01:21:51 PM »
I don't think you hijacked anything, we are all talking about how much we enjoy birds and your story fits right in

Absolutely, the more birders we get here, the more we can talk about birds ;-)

mies

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Re: Birding, how to get started?
« Reply #77 on: May 23, 2019, 02:53:33 PM »
Sweet. I'm hoping to cross one more chickadee off my list this summer. I'm going to Maine for a trip in about a month and I should hopefully be in the range of the Boreal Chickadee. That will be chickadee number 5 of 7 for me. The last two will be harder to get. The Mexican chickadee mostly lives in Mexico and I don't anticipate visiting Mexico anytime soon. The gray headed chickadee is practically impossible to see. They live at the very edge of where the treeline ends before the arctic circle. Even if you can get to their range, you still probably won't see one. They are pretty elusive.

Linea_Norway

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Re: Birding, how to get started?
« Reply #78 on: May 24, 2019, 05:56:57 AM »
Here is the common crane (grus grus), in Norway. Yesterday we saw 6 cranes and had no camera ready.

Parizade

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Re: Birding, how to get started?
« Reply #79 on: May 24, 2019, 06:42:05 AM »
wow @Linea_Norway, it looks HUGE

Linea_Norway

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Re: Birding, how to get started?
« Reply #80 on: May 24, 2019, 08:07:47 AM »
wow @Linea_Norway, it looks HUGE

It is hugh, bigger than a stork. 95-120 cm.
We took this picture with the tele lense, from the car.
« Last Edit: May 26, 2019, 11:53:32 PM by Linea_Norway »

Parizade

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Re: Birding, how to get started?
« Reply #81 on: Today at 08:24:20 AM »
My first full day in the Pacific NW this handsome couple stopped by to welcome me to the neighborhood. The markings are slightly different here than in the midwest, but I still recognized them as flickers

wenchsenior

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Re: Birding, how to get started?
« Reply #82 on: Today at 08:32:49 AM »
My first full day in the Pacific NW this handsome couple stopped by to welcome me to the neighborhood. The markings are slightly different here than in the midwest, but I still recognized them as flickers

Flickers are great.  We have more of them around in winter, and I haven't heard any in a while. Right now, we have some breeding ladderback woodpeckers that occasionally come into the yard, but I haven't gotten pics of them.

mies

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Re: Birding, how to get started?
« Reply #83 on: Today at 09:22:26 AM »
I donít have any pictures to share, but I have been seeing wild turkeys with babies recently near work. The adults are ugly, but the babies are really cute.

I also got to see some puffins last week while in Maine. The whale watching cruise was a bust for seeing whales, but they took us past an island with nesting puffins.