Birdwatching for everyone
Bird watching doesn’t seem like something that would get the blood flowing. The image I conjure has a lot to do with matching khaki, zip-off short pants, and holding binoculars to my face until my arms go numb, but despite my unfounded assumptions, birding has been the highlight of my last few trips around California. Long story short – I’ve been spellbound. I think even the most reticent birder will find considerable joy and awe when they witness a new type up close. It’s a likely side effect of seeing an especially rare or beautiful bird to keep an eye out for birds where ever you go. I’ve caught the bug.
There are some easy ways you can weave birding into your next trip – even if it is just a lunch break picnic. As handy as I am sure they are – I have not used binoculars or khakis once.
-My sightings happen most often when I’m heading to a rural place (or pocket of open land in a urban place), when I’m looking around between the hours of 6am and 10am or 4pm and 7pm, when I’m not talking.
Example: Got up early on trip to Anchor Bay, took coffee to deck to sit quietly for a half hour.
-I took as many pictures as possible not only to share, but to help me I.D. new-to-me species.
Example: Hopped inside as quickly and quietly as possible to snag the camera. Get a few shots of some huge birds that were not turkey vultures in a nearby tree.
-I searched online for the local Audubon Society, chapters of which exist across the country, and sent bird pictures of the birds I didn’t know to the contact I found there.
I got your email from the Mendocino Coast Audubon Society site and I hope you don’t mind my contacting you about a recent bird mystery. We were staying on Sunset Drive in Anchor Bay this weekend and I saw this pair from the back deck – I have no idea what kind of bird they are! I tried to get the best shot possible. I don’t know how to describe them other than vulture-size collared pigeons… really quite large…
Let me know if you have any ideas – I found the Mendocino bird lists online and tried to look at pictures of them but there was nothing at all like these.
Thanks so much for your help!
-I added my sightings to the important eBird project. Bird enthusiasts already know that for more than 100 years Christmas Day is dedicated to bird counts, but you can help count birds any day of the year. There’s a very simple registration process, (that only requires your name, email, and country), and you can easily document new and old birding spots and the lists of birds you saw there on a given day. This isn’t a fun “Dear Diary” exercise, but a helpful citizen scientist project. I’m in. Christmas Day count lists are used by scientists and lawmakers the world around. The more info there is about more species of birds and where they are the more power there is in keeping that land open, and in determining the future policies that maintain areas for habitat and to support migration and breeding.
-Next time I’m off for a long dog walk, or a country drive, I’ll check on eBird before I go to see what birds have been recorded there and get recommendation for any good birding “hot spots.” The maps show blue points (established birding spots) and red points (new spots) – you can search the whole globe on the site.
Here are some more of the birds I’ve been seeing around the state: