Tuesday, April 16, 2013

Become a Birder and You’ll Never Look Back – unless there’s something calling over your shoulder

Here is another entry from Jamey (Graham) Emmert, our resident bird nerd and Wildlife District Three's Wildlife Communication Specialist.

Eastern phoebe
“Fee-bee!” I walked out the front door of my office in Akron on March 26 to hear the sweet sound of an Eastern phoebe calling his heart out. Spring has finally arrived!  My much-needed and more frequent jaunts outdoors to enjoy what the vernal equinox has to offer brought with them many gifts. I served as witness to nesting red-shouldered hawks, an influx of yellow-bellied sapsuckers, and a chubby little winter wren bouncing about the brush, all in just one week!

As you may have noticed, I’m a birder or as my friends warmly refer to me, a bird nerd. There is seldom an excursion, whether it’s hiking or shopping, when I don’t have my binoculars within reach. It’s an incurable, contagious, and wonderful state of mind with which you must associate yourself if you haven’t already and now is the time. Males are currently dressing into breeding colors making them readily identifiable with the proper guidebook or guide-person, the weather is gorgeous even on a rainy day, and many of the birds here now will likely stay throughout the summer and into early fall at least. This gives you plenty of time to get to know these feathered gems.

For a good look, grab a good pair of binoculars (graduate to the next level of birder by calling them “bins”) and by good, something along the lines of 8x40 will do well. Read more about choosing binoculars on page 22 of the Wild Ohio magazine Spring Issue.

Start watching around your house or local park or better yet, if you’re a teacher, your school grounds. If watching bird feeders near a house, nature center, or school building (which you should), you’ll likely encounter cardinals, blue jays, house and song sparrows, house and gold finches, black-capped chickadees, tufted titmice, red-bellied and downy woodpeckers, and white-breasted nuthatches. (side note: the Ohio Division of Wildlife administers the WILD Schools Sites program which encourages school communities to attract and learn about wildlife; funding is available. Read more at ohioprojectwild.org).
Red-bellied woodpecker

A simple field guide to watching Ohio’s backyard birds is something to have in your pocket to get started with field identification and to make notes so you can journal your experience. Once your comfort level with feeder visitors peaks, head out to different habitat like a woodlot or marsh to gain some new species.
A mix of wet and forested habitat is always a good birding spot.

Have fun, enjoy the fresh air, and be amazed at how many wonderful creatures are flitting about that you might have otherwise missed! You’re sure to see other wildlife like deer, coyotes, snakes, and frogs which keeps things very entertaining.

While flying solo (pun intended) can be great for the mind, so too can sharing the joy of birding with friends, family members, and students in your life, so please pass it forward when you can.

To read more about birding in Ohio, visit wildohio.com and click on ‘Experience Wildlife.’

For educational resources on birds in Ohio visit www.ohioprojectwild.org

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