Tuesday, April 19, 2011

Bird is the Word

This morning there was a ton of traffic at my bird feeder. Within a span of two minutes we had a downy woodpecker, mockingbird, robin, two kinds of sparrows and a cardinal. Not to mention the chickadees yesterday. Oh, and the ever-present starlings. Can't forget them. There is a lot of action going on in the bird world these days. Nesting, loving, flirting, eating. And, if you've never noticed all of this action before, or thought you might want to know a little more, now is the perfect time to get started. Even though we live in a city, the world of birding can be exciting and often filled with unexpected surprises. That little thing called migration brings a lot of cool visitors to our parts. You just have to look UP.

As a person who LOVES birds, I own several different bird guides but my favorite one is the Sibley Field Guide to Birds of Eastern North America. It's my go-to guide every time. David Sibley's drawings are amazing and it's a really user-friendly guide for beginners. When I first started bird watching I'd just flip through the book until I landed on what looked like the bird I saw. Then I'd read the descriptions and puzzle through the identification. After awhile I started to just know birds from a lot of page flipping. And once you get going there is a GIANT world of birds out there. It is SO exciting the first time you see a new bird and are able to identify it yourself.

We have a large selection of field guides here at the store. Some people prefer drawings, some prefer photographs. There are pros and cons to both. We have both! (There's also a new guide by Richard Crossley called Crossley ID Guide: Eastern Birds, that looks mighty interesting, but I haven't had time to examine it thoroughly yet. It's unlike most bird guides I've seen.) I'd be happy to show you around this section if you are just getting into birding or if you know someone who is.

I'll leave you with an interesting bird tidbit. It's not a surprise to see red-tailed hawks living in the city and they are a common sight perched on weather vanes, billboards or balconies. (Squirrels and pigeons make for good eats!) However, lately I've been noticing turkey vultures in great numbers soaring high up in the air. They are huge and sometimes travel in groups. I've only ever seen them in the country-side or suburbs so I can't help but wonder what is bringing them to the city. Obviously food, but why all of a sudden? I am fascinated by this. If you have any insight, drop me a comment!

Happy birding!

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