The Cornell Lab Bird Academy Discussion Groups Joy of Birdwatching Activities: Different Seasons, Different Birds

    • W. John
      Participant
      Chirps: 9
      [2] Three birds that I can count on being here all year are the Cooper's Hawk, the Northern Cardinal and the Black-capped Chickadee. The look and sound the same all year, although I find the chickadees tends to be a more faithful visitors to my feeders during the snowy months. At this time of year, they tend to expand their range and depend less on my feeders. This month, I had a pair of new visitors arrive rather early from their migration: a pair of Yellow-bellied Sapsuckers. They stayed for a couple of days but have not been seen since. The White-crowned Sparrows and the White-throated Sparrows have been here before and can always be counted on to feed under my feeders. Once the Covid situation has resolved itself, whenever that might be, I would like to head to the park by the St Clair River in order to take part in some high-quality birding and to enjoy the arrival of the warblers. Alas, all of our parks have been closed since the beginning of the Covid issue.
    • W. John
      Participant
      Chirps: 9
      [4] Right now, my favourite birding location is the abandoned orchard that is a three-minute walk from my house, which is a stone's throw from the extreme southern end of Lake Huron. The area in question is now filled in large part with secondary-growth forest and is a haven for many species of birds, including my faithful friend, the Cooper's Hawk, who likes to visit my backyard frequently. Right now, unless the expected polar vortex hits and drops snow on the area, we are on the cusp of the return of a large wave of migratory birds. Most of my migratory winter birds have left -- I haven't seen a Junco in days -- and I am beginning to see the return of old friends like the White-crowned Sparrow. When fall returns, I expect to see the opposite playing itself out: my summer friends will begin to leave and my winter friends will begin to return. Although I love all of my birds, I do look forward, as I have now for sixteen years, the return of Project Feederwatch in the fall.
    • Karen
      Participant
      Chirps: 9
      Activity 4: In six months, it will be November and I will still be seeing Cardinals, Chickadees, and Hairy Woodpeckers at my feeders. The Pileated Woodpeckers will still be heard drumming in the woods, and will occasionally be seen at the feeders. In the hedgerows, I will no longer see Kingbirds, Blue Grosbeak, or Ruby throated Hummingbirds and Eastern Wood-Pewees. Our barn swallows will have left. The Goldfinches will still be here, but will be much more difficult to spot in their duller plumage. The Mourning doves will still be here, as will the Turkeys, and the Bald Eagles, but I probably will not see them as frequently as I am currently.
    • W. John
      Participant
      Chirps: 9
      [1] I paid particular attention to the birds that fly up through Point Pelee in the Great Lakes because I live two hours north of there on the Canadian side of the southern end of Lake Huron. I noted the vast numbers of birds that are funnelled through that gateway to the north. I also noted the large numbers of birds that skirt the western edge of the Great Lakes and head north into the prairie provinces. I was particularly struck by the invisible dividing line that the central portion of the American mainland seems to be for migrating birds. It is as if western birds spread out with some heading into the central portion of the continent and eastern birds doing the same. That likely explains some of the interbreeding that I read about.
    • Sandra
      Participant
      Chirps: 31
      Activity 4: In Central British Columbia we have a few months of cold weather, so the number of species, and number of those staying the winter decrease considerably. I get really tired of taking pictures of Canadian Geese in the winter. Fortunately spring comes early. Winter: Canadian Geese, Song and House Sparrow, Starlings, my favorite Black-capped Chickadee (I am working on locating them by song), American Crow (some really large ones). There are a few others, but not seen in the city normally. We have a few Alaskan swans that winter here. So nice to see. Summer: Oh boy! So many. How do they do it? American Robins and Red-winged Blackbirds are the first to show up (Blackbirds mainly around our marshes). Our early spring brings so many in April and May: Mallards, Northern Flicker, California Quail (they are so cute, but my mom complains they dig up the garden), American Goldfinch, House finch (this is the largest finch i have seen), just saw a group of Violet-green Swallows for the first time, I love the soft sound of the Mourning Dove, American Coots, the Osprey are a big deal nesting in our city right now. There are so many; and i have seen so many new to me already this spring. DilwMar2020 (2)DilwMar2020 (12)RtryApr2020 (28)
    • Sandra
      Participant
      Chirps: 31
      cedar creek (18)kalamoir 2019 (1)Activity 3: It is incredible the difference in colors in different seasons. It makes sense that many birds are less colorful in the winter for camouflage. We do not have either species in our area in the winter. It is interesting that the males are more colorful than females in summer. The color and markings are so vibrant, and I guess pleasing to the females. Is it also that birds in colder winter climates have extra feathers to keep warm? It would make sense. I am going to look that up. In the human race it is the females that decorate to attract males. Funny.
    • Sandra
      Participant
      Chirps: 31
      Activity 2: Canada Geese: Many stay in central British Columbia year round. Sparrows and Starlings: some House Sparrows stay over the winter, as do many Starlings. Winter is not too long where we are. I have seen so many varieties this spring! Spring comes early here, and many species have been back for more than a month. For us the first to arrive are Robins and Red-winged Blackbirds. I feel fortunate to have seen many rare ones already this year; Cinnamon Duck, Wood Duck, Blue-headed Mallard, Ruddy Ducks, and more. The breeding Osprey are a big event here.
    • Manyu
      Participant
      Chirps: 42
      Activity 3 : - Male American Goldfinches in summer and winter During winter the black crown is gone, bright yellow color is gone, the color of bill has changed. Wings and tail patterns remain same.   Common Loons in summer and winter During winters only things that looks same to me is the color of eyes.
    • Manyu
      Participant
      Chirps: 42
      Activity 4 - Hope to see Mallard, Great white Pelican and Osprey in October.
    • Manyu
      Participant
      Chirps: 42
      Activity 1 Northern Cardinal with Blackburnian Warbler
      • Northern Cardinal   - Looks like they are non-migratory birds.
      • Blackburnian Warbler - Start moving from north part of south America after April. They are abundant in north eastern USA from June to August then again move towards south America.
      Scarlet Tanager with Western Tanager
      • Scarlet Tanager - During non breeding season abundant in north eastern South America. Then move towards USA and breed in central to eastern part of USA. Post breeding migration start from September and they reach north eastern South America by December.
      • Western Tanager - During non breeding season which looks longer than Scarlet tanager i.e Nov. to Mar. they are abundant in southern part of North America. April - June they migrate, they breed in western part of USA and Canada. Breeding period is very short,a month and they start moving towards south of North America within a month
      Ruby-throated Hummingbird with Rufous Hummingbird
      • Ruby-Throated Hummingbird - Non-breeding season and range are similar to Western Tanager i.e Nov. to March abundant in southern parts of North America. Mar - May is migration and breeding grounds are spread over from central to eastern USA, grounds are similar to Scarlet Tanager though the breeding period is smaller and Ruby-throated Hummingbird starts moving to non breeding range from Aug.
      • Rufous Hummingbird - Non-breeding season Nov. to mid Feb in central Mexico. Migration period is Feb- April and they move parallel to the western coast of North America. Short breeding mid May to mid June period and range is North western USA and western Canada.
      Sandhill Crane with Yellow-bellied Flycatcher
      • Sandhill Crane - Short non breeding period , range is so scattered. During a four month long migration they are everywhere , there is no patter in the movement. Long breeding season and they breed all-over northern USA and Canada.
      • Yellow-bellied Flycatcher- Such long non breeding season, almost half a year mid Nov. - mid April. Very short breeding season they breed in the lands north of USA.
    • Manyu
      Participant
      Chirps: 42
      Namaste to all, Activity 2 - Year round birds - Indian spot billed duck, Green bee-eater and Indian pond-heron Seasonal birds - White-naped woodpecker,Indian Golden Oriole and Pied Avocet.   Have seen white- naped woodpecker and Indian golden oriole. A co-worker who knew about my interest in birds clicked a picture of Indian golden oriole for me. It stayed in office premises for couple of days.
    • Kara
      Participant
      Chirps: 20
      Activity 3 Male American Goldfinch- Throughout both summer and winter, the Goldfinch maintains its golden colour but its vibrancy changes with seasonality.  In the summer, the Goldfinch is  vibrant yellow throughout its body, with a distinct black patch on its crown and black and white wings.  In contrast, the winter Goldfinch is a dull yellow, with black and white wings and notably absent is the black patch on its crown.   Common Loons- The difference between a Common Loon in the summer as compared to the winter is quite striking.  In the summer they have a black and white checkered back, an iridescent black head with red eyes.  The loon's neck is distinct with a black and white striped ring, followed by another ring of iridescent black.   In the winter, all the regal colouring of the summer is muted to a grey and the red eyes are black.
    • Ed
      Participant
      Chirps: 1
      In my area of rural Northeast Texas an ad lib Activity:  I have a peanut feeder and see 5 birds there. Carolina chickadee ,Carolina Wren, White-breasted nuthatch, downy woodpecker and Tufted Titmouse.  On my seed feeder I see Cardinals, white crowned sparrows, white necked sparrows.  Rarely see a house finch.  On the ground I see a brown thrashers, blue jays,  and a mourning dove pair.  Most exciting for me is a pair of black-bellied whistling ducks  Began coming to a pond near town 4 to 5 years ago at approximately the same time. They are really beautiful. Saw some red winged blackbirds at same pond yesterday.  Year round we have some Canada geese there also.
    • Kara
      Participant
      Chirps: 20
      Activity 2 In my area my year-round residents are; The Northern Cardinal, The Canada Goose, and the Black-capped Chickadee.  In the city I see Canada Geese and Cardinals daily, but If I want to see a Chickadee I need to go to the Bruce Trail or a Conservation area.  My occasional residents are; the Baltimore Oriole, The American Redstart, and the Eastern Kingbird.  Of those, I have only seen the Baltimore Oriole a few years back when my neighbour had a cherry tree in the backyard.
    • Kara
      Participant
      Chirps: 20
      Activity 1 Northern Cardinal vs. Blackburnian Warbler The Cardinal tends to stay in North America whereas the Blackburnian Warblers spend their winters in South American and migrate North in mid spring, heading back south in the fall.   Scarlet Tanager vs.Western Tanager The Scarlet Tanager winters in South America.  In the Spring it makes its way across the Eastern half of the United States and up to Eastern Canada for the summer months until it again migrates South for the  winter.  The Western Tanager winters in Mexico and Central America.  In the spring they migrate to the Western half of the United States and Western Canada. Ruby-throated Hummingbird vs. Rufous Hummingbird The Ruby-throated Hummingbird winters in Mexico and Central America, with isolated pockets in Florida.  In the Spring they migrate across the Gulf and up to the Eastern half of the United States, up into Canada where they are found in the Eastern, Prairie, and Western Provinces. The Rufous Hummingbird Winters in Mexico and Central America.  In the spring it migrates North following the West Coast of the United States up into Canada.  On its migration South it covers a wider geographical area.  
    • Jason
      Participant
      Chirps: 7
      Activity 1: some birds have very long migrations based on the seasons, while others, like the Northern Cardinal, seem to stay put more or less throughout the year. Some birds migrate from the same starting point along very different paths, with some opting for a route over the Gulf of Mexico and up the east coast, for example, while others moving up the west coast. Activity 2: I live in Montreal. I've become quite fascinated with the bar charts and range maps available in Merlin lately. Three birds that are found in my area throughout the year and that I've seen lately: Mallard; American Crow; and Northern Cardinal. Three birds that only live in my area for part of the year: Tree Swallow; Double-Crested Cormorant; and Great Egret. I've seen all three of these in the past month! I'm really fascinated by the Great Egret's range map. Usually range maps for migratory species have a migration zone that connects a breeding zone and a year-round or non-breeding zone. But for the Great Egret, the migration zone is actually further north than all other zones (year-round, non-breeding, and breeding). What the heck are they doing migrating well beyond their breeding areas? Activity 3: summer season is clearly the season for getting dressed up. It's like the prom! Both birds have the same base color schemes in summer and winter, but the summer plumage is sharper, brighter, more demarcated and decorated. I've only just started paying close attention to birds around me, despite having loved the outdoors and nature my whole life. I'm interested to see how hard it will be to identify birds once plumages for my regular sightings start changing. Already, it's hard to differentiate male and female when plumage varies considerably, not to mention immature birds; so when all of their plumages start changing in different directions later in the year -- that's going to be a challenge. But I look forward to it. Activity 4: My favorite birding spot is probably the birding spot that I haven't been to yet -- the far north, the coastal waters where I grew up but no longer live, deep boreal forest -- these places are ones I dream about being in to see what's there. But my most regular birding spots hold a different kind of special place in my heart. I love getting to know a place deeply by spending a lot of time there. I have a place I go to several times a day for walks and that I've gotten to know in much deeper ways since I've started paying attention to what birds show up, and doing some reading in Merlin and elsewhere on what is likely to appear at different times of the year. Right now, that spot is dominated by Red-Winged Blackbirds, Song Sparrows, Great Blue Herons, Double-Crested Cormorants, Mallards, Ring-Billed Gulls, Tree Swallows, and others. Interestingly, in six months, the mix of birds that people typically see at this site seems to be very similar. Birds that migrate away from here will be back on their southward migration in about six months (e.g., Buffleheads, Common Goldeneye). The Tree Swallow is one of the few examples of a bird that is here now but who probably won't be around in six months.
    • Rosemary
      Participant
      Chirps: 8
      At my favorite spot, in the Cuyahoga Valley National Park in the Spring I will see Robins, Cardinals, Blue Jays, Sparrows, Canada Geese, Mourning Doves, Downy Woodpeckers, Mallards, Green Herons and Great Blue Herons.  As it becomes Summer I will see Goldfinches and then when it turns to Winter the Robins, Goldfinches, Green Heron  and Great Blue Herons migrate South and are replaced with Tufted Titmice, Dark eyed Juncos and Carolina Chickadees.
    • Donna
      Participant
      Chirps: 6
      Activity 2: 3 species that are present year round in my area are Northern cardinal, common grackle, and house finch, all of whom we see regularly. 3 species that are present for only part of the year (during breeding only) are the ruby-throated hummingbird (which we see at our feeders), tree swallow (which nests in our boxes), and chimney swift - which I don't recall ever seeing but now that I know to look for it I will! I'm enjoying all of these activities as they are making me much more aware of my surroundings!.
    • Robyn
      Participant
      Chirps: 6
      1. Compare Ruby-throated Hummingbird with Rufous Hummingbird:  Ruby migrates up the East Coast of the US while Rufous migrates up the West Coast of the US. 2. In my area, year-round residents include an array of finches, sparrows, Robins, California Towhee, Dark-eye Junco, wrens, and Oak Titmouse.  Spring visitors include an array of warblers. 3.  Male American Goldfinches:  Summer--bright yellow plumage.  Winter--duller brownish/yellow plumage. 4.  My favorite birding spot is Los Gatos Creek trail.  I expect to find warbles and orioles right now in the trees at the end of April.  Early in the morning I would see Snowy Egrets and Black-crowned Night Herons, California Gulls, and Mallard Ducks on the Vasona Lake.  On the Vasona Park lawns, there are usually Canada Geese.  This time of year, I would anticipate seeing ducklings and goslings, too.  Due to the pandemic, I've been avoiding the trail--and hence the Lake park--because it gets very crowded . . . with everyone home--there has been more foot, bike, and scooter traffic on this narrow path.  Egrets, Night Herons, California Gulls, Mallards, and Canada Geese are year-round residents in our mild climate.
    • cindy
      Participant
      Chirps: 16
      Activity 1: n Cardinal has a short migration in the eastern US vs the black warbler which has a long migration from South America to Canada. Scarlet Tánger and the Western Tánger have a long migration in North America but one is East Coast  and the other west Coast hummingbirds have a long migration with a East/west coast difference sandhill crane has a large migration but mostly in US (all the way to Alaska)
    • Paula
      Participant
      Chirps: 19
      In these activities I note that in the first birds compared the ranges are often very different. Either mostly east vs mostly west, or that one species migrates very little but the other has quite a wide range. In the second activity there are apparently a lot of birds that are in my area of the NE all year round. More than I thought.  On the other hand, there are also many seasonal birds some of which I have never seen nor even heard of so perhaps that's because I wasn't attentive to them 'seasonally'.  These would include the Ruby Crowned Kinglet, the Northern Parula  and the Yellow Rumped Warbler among others In the 3rd activity I see that the gold finches really change quite a bit from summer to winter. The first thing that struck me was that their bellies seem might lighter/whiter in color so the blend in better in the winter and they seem to loose the black cap on their heads.  Their beaks also change color becoming less bright.  It's amazing to me that their beaks can change color (but also seems to me to make identification that much more challenging). The loons also change color a lot. Their colors are intense black/white and blue or blue green in the summer but more gray and brown in the winter. They loose that distinctive black head in the winter as well as that blue collar and the prominent black and white patterning on their backs. I don't have a favorite spot yet, but there is a park near me that runs along an estuary and has marshes as well as trees and lawn so that might be a good place to look.  There are areas of woods and forest near me as well as marshes so I think I'll have to look up what should appear in each and then try and explore (when things open up again - right now all parks are closed by me).
    • Jay
      Participant
      Chirps: 19
      Activity 2: This was a fun activity (modified slightly to focus on three instead of six birds)! The animated range maps add interesting dimensions to my bird watching: “when” and “where.” So, now, in addition to thinking about what I saw, I can also consider what I might -- or might not -- see next. Dark-eyed Junco in late March. This was one of the last times this year that I saw this inquisitive little fellow. According to the abundance animation (https://ebird.org/science/status-and-trends/daejun/abundance-map-weekly), they’ve largely migrated to the Northern United States and Canada by this time of year but should be returning in the fall. IMG_4753 American Goldfinch in early April. While not a good photo, this was the first time since last year that I’d seen these birds. According to the animation (https://ebird.org/science/status-and-trends/amegfi/abundance-map-weekly), however, they could be present in my area throughout the year. Perhaps nonbreeding plumage or an overall lower density in winter help explain their apparent absence. IMG_5191 Gray Catbird in late April. I remember seeing these dapper fellows last year and am pleased to have noted one’s arrival the other (rainy) day. According to the animation (https://ebird.org/science/status-and-trends/grycat/abundance-map-weekly), these birds spend the non-breeding season along the Gulf Coast, the Caribbean, and in parts of Central America before moving into the midwest and northeastern parts of the United States. IMG_5811 Travel safe, bird friends!
    • Barbara
      Participant
      Chirps: 2
      I have recently seen an American Goldfinch here with still winter plummage and was surprised at how bright yellow he will become.  The other surprise I had...I did not know that loons look so different in winter.  If I have seen them I don't think I would recognize them.  Thanks!
    • Sylvia
      Participant
      Chirps: 9
      Activity #1: I was interested to learn that the Northern Cardinal is a year-found bird in NE U.S. (the abundance didn't really change throughout the year); whereas the Blackburnian Warbler only summers in the NE U.S., while wintering in Northern South America. The tanagers were very different: the Scarlet Tanager is a migrant, living in the NE U.S. May-Sept, and wintering way down in northern and northwestern South America. The Western Tanager lives in western U.S. about May-Sept., and winters in Mexico and Central America (it doesn't go as far as the Scarlet Tanager). The ruby-throated hummer lives in the Eastern U.S. and southern Canada about May-Sept., and winters in southern Mexico and Central America...whereas the rufous hummer lives in western U.S. (NW mostly) May-Sept., and winters in southern Mexico. As for the sandhill cranes, they summer in northern Canada and Alaska (which surprised me), and winter in FL and TX; whereas the smaller yellow-bellied flycatchers summer way up in western Canada and NE U.S., and winter in Central America. Activity#2: I've seen the following three birds year round in NY: Northern Cardinal, Chickadee, and Rock Pigeon....although I didn't see many Chickadees this winter (someone said they were cyclical, so I hope we see more next winter.) Three birds I see onl part of the year are Scarlet Tanager (which winter in Central America); Wood Thrush, and Yellow Warbler, which winters in northern and Central America. Activity #3: In summer, NY Goldfinches have their black caps, and bright yellow breast and back. In winter, the black cap disappears, and their yellow is very pale. But, I noticed that the black wings with white wing bars stay year-round. As for the Common Loons: in summer, they have a dark black head, striped necklace, and checkered back; whereas in winter the black in the head and the checkered back are muted, and there's no necklace. The neck and breast are white. Activity#4: Now (April) in NYC's Inwood Hill Park, I'm seeing Northern Cardinals, Robins, Rock Pigeons, Starlings, Mockingbirds, Flickers, House Sparrows...the spring migration (which  I think peaks in May) hasn't really started yet. In six months, I'll probably see most of these same birds, many of which don't migrate. If I see migrating warblers in May, they won't be here in six months.
    • Carol
      Participant
      Chirps: 1
      Being a beginning birder I don’t know species names so it is difficult to use ebirder quickly.Or maybe there is a trick to accessing common names to do a search.Thanks for any advice. Carol
      • Julian
        Participant
        Chirps: 11
        Using eBird would be a loss for me without also using my Merlin BirdID app! I am new to bird watching, so before I go out I use Merlin to predict what birds I might see. It helped me today when I saw Harris's Sparrow. I knew it was a sparrow, but it had an "oil spill" on its face and neck that the House Sparrow doesn't have. Because I studied the birds in advance, it really helped me out! Then I was able to match that bird with the birdsong I had been hearing.
      • Cathy
        Participant
        Chirps: 45
        Hi Carol:  I like Merlin too, and the explore birds option.  I also have a trusty field guide which I bought years ago.  It has lots of color pictures and it organizes birds by general category.  My book is rather old.  I remember wondering if I should buy it and am so glad I did!  There are many paper guides, I imagine, but mine is called "A Guide to Field Identification:  Birds of North America" by Golden Press publishers. The Cornell Lab also has alot of information about birds on it's website. I've always enjoyed watching birds but am really learning alot in this class. Good luck.