The Cornell Lab Bird Academy Discussion Groups Joy of Birdwatching Activities: Helping Birds in Your World

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    • Bird Academy
      Bird Academy
      Bird_Academy
      Share your experience participating in this lesson's activities. Comment on as many or as few activities as you'd like.
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    • Lesley
      Participant
      Chirps: 7
      LNinNanaimo
      Why do birds matter to me? I am unapologetically announcing that, as the name of this course says, I find joy in birdwatching. Each and every day, I am thrilled by bird sightings at our backyard feeders, and by whatever I see flying overhead, such as the resident bald eagles, or birds spotted on outings in the forests and shores of our region on Vancouver Island, British Columbia. My husband and I will often stop whatever we are doing to call the other to come watch "our" quirky covey of California Quail in the yard, or that "Elvis" the shiny, blue black Steller's Jay with the slick-backed pompadour hair cut, has returned to our feeder. We love the whole gang out there. Even though I have watched and identified birds since I was a kid, now that I am retired, and especially during these months of COVID-19 restrictions, bird watching and the information in this course, has deepened my appreciation for the astonishing existence of birds; it has given me new awareness of the wonder of migration and bird behaviors. I've slowed down to really focus on this connection to nature. I am proud to say that I had already started to take action to protect birds, and now to check the boxes on the Seven Simple Actions is really gratifying. We tore up our lawns to create perennial gardens with plants that birds and bees can thrive on. We keep the fall/winter garden "messy" by allowing leaves to sit on the ground to harbor insects and seeds for the birds to eat. We have numerous feeders, and have plastered the windows with decals and post-it notes trying to prevent strikes. We recycle plastic and have reduced our use as much as possible. If we had a cat, we would keep it indoors -- but we can't do much about the stray that visits our yard -- at least the cat is a good mouser. And I am pleased to contribute to citizen science with bird counts and uncommon sightings. Have I noticed differences in bird populations over my lifetime? Yes, definitely. I see significantly fewer house sparrows, which I understand is a reported phenomenon, and fewer robins, which makes me sad, as their bright presence and song always takes me back to childhood. Future activities in my bird watching journey? I have enjoyed this course, so likely I will sign on for more. The instructions on using Merlin Bird ID and the migratory maps has been wonderful for richer bird watching experiences -- as has the tips on focusing binoculars properly! It took 68 years before someone showed me that trick! Thanks! Other than that, I plan to carry on with my life list and my enjoyment and awe at watching the bird world. Thank you for this tremendously enjoyable course. Photos: our bird-friendly front yard "meadow"  IMG_4454IMG_4453
    • JackBird21
      Participant
      Chirps: 23
      TBMachine
      Activity 4:  The next step for me along my bird watching journey is to visit Cornell Labs; take live courses and workshops; and begin to plan travel to other areas of North America to observe more birds.  Some of this will have to wait until we have COVID-19 under control.  Meanwhile I will continue to study online with Cornell Labs, bird often with experienced birders; and continue to learn. This course has been wonderful ! I have learned so much.  Many questions about birds and bird habitat have been running through my mind, and now after completing this course, much of these questions have been answered and my direction with birding is becoming more clear ! Thank You !
    • JackBird21
      Participant
      Chirps: 23
      TBMachine
      Activity 2: Through Cornell Labs, Audubon and The Brookline Bird Club I have been actively implementing the Seven Simple Actions to Protect Birds. We have planted natural shrubs to provide shelter and food for birds in our yard.  We have feeders and a birdbath in our yard and I have become engaged and am supporting the efforts of local and statewide bird organizations.  I have been hosting "Beginning Bird" Seminars through Zoom session, Statewide Wildlife websites and big box stores in our area.  I will be an ambassador of Birding, and continue to hone my skills and knowledge every passing year !
    • JackBird21
      Participant
      Chirps: 23
      TBMachine
      Activity 1: I am a first year birder (2020) and during this COVID-19 infested year, I decided to follow my interest in birds and become an active birder... the reason, to get outdoors into the clean air, to be away from groups of people in closed in locations, and dive into the world of birds and learn as much about them as possible.  What were the biggest benefits to me ? Birding got me up early and out into nature.  This was great for my attitude.  Learning about birds through observation got my mind wondering more and more as to why birds do what they do.  This led me to sign up for online Cornell Lab education programs, just like this one.  I have learned so much about birds and now I know there is so much more to learn !  Yay !  This will keep me busy for the rest of my life !  In addition, I met and made new friends who shared their passion for birding and directed me to resources like Merlin, eBird and HOT SPOTS so that I could observe more birds !  It was these friends, who socially distanced with me, that the greatest learning occurred.  I have joined Audubon organizations in 2 states and I belong to the Brookline Bird Club.  Through these organizations I am learning faster and have resources and experts to go to - when I need help !
    • Luke
      Participant
      Chirps: 13
      Lukins
      Activity 1: I believe that birds have always been a source of enjoyment for me; from feeding birds with my mother as a young boy to seeing my first Bald Eagle to seeing the first flock of Canada geese migrating north in the spring. An awareness of the sounds and behavior of birds around me is like an extension of my own consciousness, and enhances my experience of the natural world. With all the news of climate change, habitat destruction and loss of biodiversity it is easy to become discouraged. Taking this class and using eBird has made me aware of this worldwide community of birders that share my love and interest in the life of our planet. Participating in and seeing the power of citizen science and learning how Cornell Lab of Ornithology is putting all the data they collect to use gives me hope. Thank you Cornell.
    • Rod
      Participant
      Chirps: 5
      Rodney Kitick
      • Da Ranch BB V2
    • Devin
      Participant
      Chirps: 10
      Devin66
      Activity 1: I knew that birds are an important part of natural ecosystems. I get a lot of personal enjoyment from learning more about the diversity of birds and actually seeing them in the wild. I feel less ignorant about the natural world around me. Activity 2: My wife and I have planted some native plants in our backyard. The initial purpose wasn't to attract birds, but it has been a bonus side effect. We've had a pair of house finches nest in our arborvitae for a few years, and hummingbirds come to drink from our rose of sharon blossoms. I try to reduce my use of plastic, but sometimes I forget to bring my re-usable bags to the grocery store. I could do better with that. Activity 3: I personally haven't noticed changes in bird populations over my lifetime. Sadly, until recently, I haven't paid much attention to bird populations. Activity 4: I want to grow my life list of birds observed! I will continue to use eBird and Merlin ID to learn more about birds, their behaviors, habitats, and songs.
    • Jon
      Participant
      Chirps: 6
      jekielty
      Activity 2 - Living in New York City we don't have access to an outdoor space from our apartment. However we do keep our cats indoors and do not use pesticides on the little bit of urban gardening that we do from our fire escape. We are very mindful in our use of plastics including bags and straws and always have a reusable bag with us. The biggest way I have worked to help protect birds is that I have become a monthly donor for the Wild Bird Fund here in NYC that works to help injured birds (and other animals) rehabilitate. Most of these birds are window strike victims during their migration. I have also encouraged my company to donate gifts to their annual fundraiser to help raise additional money that will help them. We will also be working on future events together to fundraise more. As far as other ways I can help, I will start looking for bird friendly and/or shade grown coffee and will begin using EBird to track all of my sightings that can then be used to help track birds.
    • Jessica
      Participant
      Chirps: 6
      jessbird22660
      Birds matter to me, on the surface, because of their beauty in physical appearance and beautiful song.  But, deeper than that, they are a sign of healthy ecology and balanced life.  I have enjoyed watching and observing birds since 2008 when my step-sister got me into it.   But they also matter because of their high intelligence. As far as the seven actions, I am already reducing my use of plastic by using a recyclable container for water.  I am interested in checking out more about how to safeguard windows from birds running into them.  Unfortunately, we had a Northern Cardinal run into it this past year.  It was okay but still prompted the awareness.  I am already keeping my cat indoors as well.  I also hope to participate in more Citizen Science and I currently volunteer as a Wildlife Rehabilitator. Thank you for this course!  It has helped me to take my bird watching to the next level and increased my appreciation for them.
    • Allison
      Participant
      Chirps: 7
      AKirchner1979
      I'll add a personal note about a bird population that is increasing -- Bald Eagles.  My husband and I enjoyed a wintertime visit to Yellowstone National Park thirty years ago with a small group of friends.  One of our friends spotted a tiny dot in the sky.  Bald eagle!  Our friends all pulled out their cameras and took multiple shots of the far-away bird.  My husband and I didn't waste the camera film (see how old we are!) since we'd seen many eagles much closer than that near my parents' home on the Northern Neck of Virginia.  I'm glad to see that Virginia still has one of the highest numbers of breeding pairs, though a few states are higher.  Birdwatching makes me feel closer to my parents who have both passed away.  Many years ago, my mom became president of her local birding chapter even though she was a beginner.  She was a natural leader -- always enthusiastic and eager to learn -- and my dad was eager to support any activity that involved walking and fresh air.  When she died last year, I inherited her feeding station and have taken great pleasure in adding new feeders and different types of food.  The birds were very important to her during the last years of her life, and we spent many relaxing hours just watching the woodpeckers, finches, bluebirds, and so many more.  We have woods behind our house, and I made an effort to plant a few bird-friendly (and butterfly-friendly) shrubs and plants near the feeders.  I hadn't done any gardening in a few years, but being home due to coronavirus restrictions gave me more time.  I'm excited about choosing more native plants next year.
    • Christine
      Participant
      Chirps: 4
      Christin3
      I helped at a bird count marking the birds spotted by different groups. A young man was seated in my area who was probably only 18 but he could identify all the birds we heard by their calls, chirps and songs. He had been studying them his whole life. It was fascinating and I was so jealous as I am 70 now. I thought what a wonderful gift he has to enjoy for his whole life. I don't see well enough to distinguish birds or locate them all that well quickly enough, but through this course and others taken here too have learned other ways to help me get to know them. I am a very early riser and I love to have my windows open (weather permitting in Minnesota!) So I can hear the pre-dawn chorus! It starts my day out right. Growing up I remember seeing more Bluebirds and Baltimore Orioles. I did Bluebird monitoring for a Nature Center a few years ago and it was disheartening to see how few hatchlings made it. I live in an apartment with no patio or deck and I don't drink coffee, so my biggest contributions are since covid I have done lots of walking in the neighborhoods around my house. I pick up all the plastic and other trash on my way and dispose of it properly and when we could, I worked at Earth day cleanups along the Mississippi and at native plant plantings and prairie restorations and seed gatherings. Thanks for a great course. I really learned a lot!
    • Ann
      Participant
      Chirps: 16
      BCHeritage
      Thank you for this excellent course.  I can talk more intelligently to the visitors coming to our BC Heritage Park in Black Canyon City, AZ - a birding destination that has an Ebird spot.  I also am paying more attention to the birds at my home.  Thank you so much. 20200929_095103
    • Gracen
      Participant
      Chirps: 4
      gefbirds
      Through this course, I definitely have been able to see birds in a new light, and I am now interested in taking steps to save them. The various footage of birds and bird songs have shown me that birds are really fascinating and worth watching. Also- with Activity 2- we do keep our cat inside!
    • Cynthia
      Participant
      Chirps: 16
      Cynthia_Case
      Activity 2: When we bought our 1970s ugly house, we were thrilled by one feature: a 10 x 10 atrium.  Wall on one side, glass sliders the other 3.  We installed a cat door in one slider, installed a few beams, and wired in the top.  Cost of materials: $100.  Instant catio  for our 2 indoor cats.  They have ledges to climb and sleep on, a cat house, etc.  It’s their happy place.  We also have a patio, not a yard, on the other side of the house, and the bird feeders hanging there keep the cats endlessly entertained.  It’s a myth that cats need to be outdoors.  If enough stimulation is provided indoors, they can be quite content! (And the birds benefit, too.) In the front of our house, we recently replaced all the palms and lava rock (so 1970s!) with native plants.  Working with a landscape designer, we chose bird and butterfly friendly plants that are indigenous to our area, and ones we see and love when we’re out hiking.  I can’t wait for the Toyon to bear fruit—birds love the red berries. We also planted a bunch of milkweed behind the house, thinking we’d create a monarch butterfly station.  Too close to the bird feeders! The Yellow Warblers loved the caterpillars... Will investigate the bird friendly coffee.  I hope Peet’s has it!  Please, please.  Let Major Dickason’s be bird friendly!93AC121D-D51C-4FC2-A947-84BC81895BE5A26B0929-6E31-402B-B6CD-3DB15677EE66
    • Meg
      Participant
      Chirps: 8
      BigYear4ML
      Activity 1:  Why birds matter to me. My Dad is responsible for fostering my interest in birds. When I was a child, I remember how vigilant he was about keeping the bird feeder well-stocked during the winter, his efforts to keep the neighbor's cat away, and how he would point out the different birds at the feeder by showing me his field guide. To this day, I enjoy when he calls letting me know there's a hawk in the backyard terrorizing the frequent flyers at his birdfeeder. I hope parents realize that by sharing their interests, they can shape the next generation of enthusiasts, whether it be birding or any other hobby.
    • Ken
      Participant
      Chirps: 3
      tiberius37
      I've been involved in citizen science related to birding for nearly 20 years.  I started with the Great Backyard Bird Count, then Project Feeder Watch.  I've been using ebird.org for 14 years, but this course introduced me to some of the features of the site that I wasn't as familiar with.  I will be definitely taking the Ebird Essentials free course next. By education I am a plastics engineer, but I am not a fan of plastic bottled water.  I keep a yeti thermos bottle filled with filtered tap water next to me at all times. One tip - the plastic ring holders used on six packs of soda pop are a particular concern for shore birds and marine life.  Take a few seconds and snip the rings with scissors before tossing them in the trash. We have a second floor deck patio door and have experienced bird strikes up close and personal.  (In one case a cardinal hit our door and while stunned a hawk came down and swooped it up.  My wife is still traumatized...)  A web search brought us to the American Bird Conservancy list linked in this lesson.  After researching the list, we opted for the Feather Friendly DIY adhesive dots.  Super easy to install and almost invisible from the inside.  Put them up at the start of this summer, so far no casualties!
    • Jennifer
      Participant
      Chirps: 8
      Tanagerlover
      Activity 2: I made my entrance into the bird world while watching a Hummingbird build a nest just outside my front door. For the first time I noticed the beautiful Western Tanager on its spring migration through my neighborhood. It's probably done this migration many times before but for once I just sat and listened to the sounds around me and that is how I discovered them. Since that time I have participated in a raptor survey and will do it again next year. I have joined the Audubon Society and participated in a bird walk. I found these courses and plan to take more. I think the greatest thing I am doing right now for birds is sharing what I have learned with friends and family. This has made them more conscious and aware of the birds around them. They too, now look and listen. Once traveling is safe again, my sister and I plan on making a trip out to New York and Sapsucker Woods. In the meantime I will have to be satisfied with watching the live feeder cams!
    • STUART
      Participant
      Chirps: 8
      ashtonsa
      Activity 1: Birds as an essential species are special because their existence is up close and personal. That is the science of their contribution to the ecosystem is complemented delightedly in their art form - both sight and sound. Are home is enveloped by these sights and sounds which is pleasant and constant reminder of their importance more so than any species that live here on our farm.  This course has only reinforced our observational skills and encouraged us further down the citizen science trail we must stay on. Activity 2: We are reducing or avoiding plastic.  We recover waste plastic on our river shore.  We observe and report what we see on eBird. We participate in an annual Blue Bird nest watch here in Virginia.  We provide feed for are yard birds during harsher months and prior to breeding.  Our cats stay inside and enjoy the birds from the windows. We have installed anti collision products on our windows but need to do more here. Activity 3: The most significant losses over my lifetime here on Waterloo Farm has been the reduction of Quail population or "Bobwhite" and the Whippoorwill. A pair of Bobwhite were heard and observed in 2018 but we believe a window birdstrike at our home took one. A single has been back in 2019 and 2020 calling which may have been a mate. We have allowed old hedgerow sites to regenerate in order to support this species but are not seeing the results of yet.  The Whippoorwill we thought, was heard around 2015 but not since. This species was my best childhood memory, falling asleep in a non-AC, window open house in the hot summer with this lovely singer calling into the night.  A sad loss here. Activity 4: I signed up for the Virginia Breeding Atlas project but have not been a good participant.  This course has stimulated me to get more training on how to observe in breeding season including nesting.
    • Lou Anne
      Participant
      Chirps: 7
      hostetlerl
      Activity one: I love birds.  They are precious to watch and beautiful.  I know some of the citizen science projects but not all of them.  I didn't know about the bird safe coffee.  I've learned a lot about birds and they're habitats and identification.  I plan to take more birding courses and practice more in the field.
      • Meg
        Participant
        Chirps: 8
        BigYear4ML
        I didn't know about the coffee either. I need to check my Starbucks coffee package!
    • Cathy
      Participant
      Chirps: 37
      cgtv123
      Activity 1: Why do birds matter to you? Has this course changed your thoughts about why birds are important? Post your thoughts in the discussion. I've always loved birds.  They bring joy and beauty to the day.   They are examples of God's artistry.   Of course, the items highlighted in the last section (pollination, seed spreading, serving as notifications of climate issues, cleaning up, etc.) show their added importance.    I hadn't really realized their important role as pollinators and seed spreading.   Yet, even if they didn't do these things, I'd think they were just essential for their sheer beauty, visually and through their song. Activity 2: Think about the Seven Simple Actions to Protect Birds. Which are you already doing? Could you practice any of them more extensively, or start trying more of them? What other actions can you think of that could help birds? Share in the discussion. Prior to the course, I have made an effort to avoid using water in plastic bottles when I could, opting for filters or larger/reusable jugs.  I recycle when possible.   I have done container gardening and didn't quite realize how helpful it could be to the birds.  Yet, today as I was sitting on my balcony and several sparrows sat on the railing near me, I wondered if they were drawn partly by the plants there.   One thing I will probably be more mindful of is coffee and how it is harvested. Activity 3: Have you noticed bird populations changing over your lifetime? Share your observations in the discussion. I moved to a different part of the country when I graduated college.  So I haven't really noticed the changes in birds over a long period because the climate where I live now is slightly warmer.  We get some birds here out East I would never see in the MidWest (such as Eastern Bluebirds).  I do think I see more Eastern Bluebirds (rare that they still are) than I used to 10 years or more ago - which is probably due to some conservation efforts.   This year I have seen more blue jays and cardinals than I recall in prior years - but am not sure if that is a trend or not. Activity 4: What next steps do you want to take in your birdwatching journey? Has this course inspired you to try anything new or make any changes in your life? Share in the discussion. I think I will continue to pay more attention to bird behavior, knowing more about what's behind it.  For example, the other day I saw an unusual site of 7 or so mourning doves on the roof of a nearby building.  I was able to grab my binoculars and saw them preening - which I now know is important for flight.  I am attaching a photo of those birds here.    I also hope to get my cameras in more ready shape - as my phone camera does not do nearly a nice job on the pictures. To be honest, I dragged my feet on finishing this assignment, as it signifies the end of a course that was not only interesting, but a way to keep me busy and engaged during the isolation of COVID-19 restrictions.  It was something to look forward to.  I will probably find another class, and eventually hope to take a class on bird song identification.  Not only has this class helped me to pay more attention to birds, but to other wildlife as well.  (Such as squirrels.)  There is so much in the natural world to learn about and explore, even for someone who has been around for a while!   doves
    • Lisa
      Participant
      Chirps: 15
      lisabj
      It is great to find there are so many ways to participate in Citizen Science, helping birds and adding fun new opportunities. There is The Great Backyard Bird Count which was my introduction to birding. I am looking forward to and the Christmas Bird Count. Project FeederWatch sounds like a wonderful project. That may have to wait for me as I am having a surgery and will be recovering this year. But as a future project definitely! NestWatch sounds a little intimidating to me at the moment. I just came upon Celebrate Urban Birds and that seems like a real adventure. I am inspired to brush up my Spanish. I am regularly submitting checklists with eBird.  That has become the highlight of my day!
    • Yulia
      Participant
      Chirps: 8
      Koreshok
      Activity 1: Birds are a world to me. I can’t even imagine waking up one morning and not hearing or seeing House Sparrows around. Everything in this world is connected. Knowing your neighbors is important. Birds can show if there are ecological problems around you. I feel we need more trees in our neighborhood, because the bird variety is poor. I’ve always wanted to expand my knowledge about these feathery creatures. Bird watching is so much fun! Activity 2: Just talking about birds, sharing books, pictures, videos or your personal observations can make others more bird conscious. From the seven actions there’s one I haven’t done yet – finding shade-grown coffee. I never thought of how coffee is grown until this course and I’m glad I can use my knowledge to help birds and be rewarded with delicious coffee. Activity 3: I think there are fewer birds in the cities than 10 years ago. From what I’ve read we are to blame. New building designs don’t allow nest building; only one type of grass seed used in city parks and lawns provides poor seed and insect diet for birds; there are less green areas and parks for birds to live, which also provides poor ecological environment for us. Activity 4: I’d like to know more about bird seasonal and gender behaviors, their feather color changes. Knowing about bird flight patterns and songs would make it easier for me to identify them. I really want to go to different parts of the country to see all the variety of birds I found in the books and applications. I even started a bird painting course that will help me to be more observant and notice more details in bird shapes, coloration and behaviors. I also signed up for the course Ornithology: Comprehensive Bird Biology. I'm really grateful for this course! Feels like a nice start of a great journey!
    • Mark
      Participant
      Chirps: 8
      markraby
      Activity 1: Birds are awe inspiring and inspirational. A testament to observation and exploration. Birds have always given me a sense of time and place and I value their presence in the world very much. Activity 2: I am guilty of owning a keurig coffee system. It does have a side compartment for making pots of coffee - so I should be keeping an eye open for bird friendly coffee. I also want to limit my use of single use plastics, however with growing demand for personal protective equipment in the form of masks and gloves - I fear 2020 may set us back years in reducing single use plastics. Activity 3: I haven't noticed a sharp decline in bird populations in my lifetime. When I was a kid I volunteered in a peregrine falcon recovery effort and it seems like peregrine falcons have made a come back as mentioned in the raptors section of this unit. Activity 4: This course has inspired me! I would like to start a birdwatching group called "The Thousand Islands Birdwatchers Association." Would love some guidance or next steps in order to properly register this association! I'd also like to invest in a nice set of binoculars and a good camera with a proper telephoto lens. I've already picked up a Stokes field guide and a Peterson field guide. :)  
    • J
      Participant
      Chirps: 4
      j-colby
      571FFFAE-C2EF-4AD8-A547-1AC3AC46E658A4BD057E-367B-459B-828C-479AABF16B98DB017F88-8D8D-41D0-BE7D-5B9C4D2F2880
    • J
      Participant
      Chirps: 4
      j-colby
      374AFECF-A958-4A19-809E-0339DFE6246ALoved these birds by the water.
    • J
      Participant
      Chirps: 4
      j-colby
      95589754-8DCE-400C-A88C-DBB3CBEC99C2
    • J
      Participant
      Chirps: 4
      j-colby
      AFDFA807-3DF1-4FC2-91A4-C877A7C3E98D
    • Mary
      Participant
      Chirps: 12
      tortorello
      Activity 2: Of the 7 Simple Actions, I am already doing these: 1.Use native plants:  In my backyard gardens I have added more native plants, and am trying to learn about more of them that also might do well in our local conditions. After taking this course, I am more conscious of how plantings can also help to support bird life. 2.Avoid pesticides:  never use them 3.Reduce plastic use:  Yes, reduce, re-use, recycle, as much as possible. Mostly try to reduce wherever I can. What I will try to do: 1.Drink shade-grown coffee:  I have been vaguely aware of these labels on coffee brands, but will look for them now. 2.Do citizen science:  I hope to become an active participant -- This course has been such a wonderful introduction!  I have made my first few entries to eBird, but certainly need to get more confident and establish connections that will help me to do so. Another action to take is to let others know about the 7 Simple Actions.
    • Mary
      Participant
      Chirps: 12
      tortorello
      Activity 1: Birds matter because they are essential parts of their environments. They are both predator and prey, they pollinate, fertilize, disperse seed. They have roles that surely we don’t fully understand. Their songs lift us up. Their flights and migrations inspire and amaze. I associate certain bird songs, calls and sightings with particular events that bring good memories when I hear or see them again. The endangerment or disappearance of birds remind me that I need to do a better job in  my own way of improving the health of the earth.
    • Lisa
      Participant
      Chirps: 15
      lisabj
      The 2020 Great Backyard Bird Count started my bird watching.  I received an email about it and felt this was something we just had to do. At first eBird and Merlin a bit confusing but now are everyday essentials. My interest continued thanks to a mystery bird that sang every morning right outside my window. I started every day saying who is that bird! I would go to work and talk about this to my coworker and sing the call. Finally one day I could show him a picture in Merlin of the Dark-eyed Junko and play the exact song I had been singing. Now my husband and I sit outside every evening and watch birds. I am recovering from surgery and this has helped me connect to the outdoors. I think the birds recognize us and they come up on the deck to say hello. It will be great when I can go to different locations to bird watch. Another goal is to add more native plants to our yard to make a better habitat. Starting a journal is another plan. There are lots of observations like why did we not have Mockingbirds here this year or noticing that the Quail visit different locations in the neighborhood that can be noted. Our coffee is organic and fair trade but there is a whole lot more to know about how coffee is grown. A brief search brought up articles from The Cornell Lab, Smithsonian Institution, National Audubon Society and more. This is just the beginning of a really interesting, enjoyable and planet positive   new direction. Thank you!
    • Leanne
      Participant
      Chirps: 3
      lmortell
      The biggest change I have noticed is the number of birds that remained in my area this winter.  Cedar waxwings, Goldfinches and even Bluebirds stayed through the winter, something I haven't seen before.  Here is a photo of the bluebird I saw on my deck in December this past winter.DSC_0037
      • Cathy
        Participant
        Chirps: 37
        cgtv123
        What a beautiful picture of this bluebird.  Thanks for sharing!  Cathy
    • Kimberly
      Participant
      Chirps: 9
      ageek917
      I am glad to have a yard full of many native species and plantings that offer excellent habitat for birds and many insects. Right now I have species such as service berry, vibernum, red twig dogwood, asters, oaks, eastern red cedar and more. I am hoping to add to this collection this fall based on the suggestions from this class. My hope is to add Rhododendron periclymenoides, narrow-leaf mountain mint, wand panic grass, and either a poosum-haw or a Southern arrowwood. We also have a local arnoretum that has a native plant sale every spring and fall. I will try to aquire my plants from them. While taking this class,I have become aware of the vast bird population that visits my yard. The native plants are working even better than I realized! Hooray.
    • Janet
      Participant
      Chirps: 7
      Janetcaperobin
      20200810_085202 Activity 1 & 4:  I love watching birds, therefore we have various different feeders in our garden, seed feeders, nectar feeders and a fruit table. We also have a bird bath which we clean out regularly, it is lovely to watch the Cape Robins, Olive Thrush and Bul buls taking a bath. I took part on the 12 May in Ebird global count day and since then I have become pretty addicted to watching birds, I have decided to buy myself a DSLR Camera, in order to be able to take close up photographs of birds. Thank you for giving me this new found inspiration to observe birds even more closely than I did before, everytime I hear a bird I look up to try and spot it, I am now able to identify at least 6 birds by hearing their song or call.
    • Lydia
      Participant
      Chirps: 7
      lpultorak33
      Activity 1: Bird matter to me because I love spending time with animals and in nature. Bird make these even more fun as they can be seen often. There are so many different bird species in many different colors and sizes. Seeing them always makes me happy whether I see hummingbird or a bald eagle or anything in between. I never thought about why birds really are important, but now that I have taken the course, I can see how they impact humans. Thank you for making this wonderful course about bird watching!
    • Devery
      Participant
      Chirps: 3
      Devhow
      I enjoyed this course and may go through it again!  I have downloaded eBird and will use it the next time I go birding.  I also want to  plant some native plants in my yard that will attract birds, especially hummingbirds. and will look for shade-grown coffee the next time I go shopping.  Thank you for an interesting, informative course.
    • Jamies
      Participant
      Chirps: 10
      Jamies007
      Activity 1: Birds matter to me because it is one of my favorite hobbies in the morning. Watching birds call, sing, fly around, forage and recognizing them for bird conservation effort is a very meaningful activity. Birds are very important as they serve as scavengers that clean up the environment, and prevent the spread of communicable diseases. They also help pollinate flowers in Canada, so we have abundant food to eat. They can sense climate change earlier than we do, so we should help protect their habitats. I sure do not want the bird watching activity to be over. This world would be boring and dull without any bird watching activity. Activity 2: I try to use less plastic as it generates harmful materials that choke birds. I also participate in a citizen science project, such as eBird, to record virtually the number of bird species I see in the nearby parks. This is to help bird protection and environmental conservation. Other things to help birds is to understand what the city of Edmonton or Calgary is using to clear weeds (e.g. dandelions) in the summer. This is to better understand if any harmful weed killers are used that can pollute soil, ground water and vegetation (e.g. edible crops, trees and flowers) that the birds and humans rely on for food and habitat. Harmful pesticides may cause adverse health effects both birds and humans if consumed in certain amount and for a period of time.
    • Ken
      Participant
      Chirps: 4
      Kbaldauff
      Activity #1 what makes birds matter to me is that they are such an important part of of our planet’s ecosystem and are some of the most interesting creatures that we are able to see on an almost everyday basis. The differences between species are what makes them so interesting, whether it’s their songs or the ways they care for their young.I’ve really enjoyed this course.
    • Eva
      Participant
      Chirps: 9
      Toucanny
      Activity 1: Birds matter to me because they are incredible animals, and when you bird watch, you feel so many incredible emotions such as curiosity when you spot a new bird, surprise and/or wonder when you see it and identify it, and joy when you see how far you've come from seeing and identifying your first bird. This course taught me so many different things about birds and some bird species that I had no idea about, and now I know exactly why we have to protect birds today.--------Activity 2: Out of the seven actions, my family and I are currently doing 3: we buy shade-grown coffee when we have the chance, we try to use less plastic, and we do Citizen Science (we use eBird). When we had a garden, we didn't use pesticides, and we used bird-friendly plants, although we aren't really sure if they were all native. Right now, these actions are the only ones we can take, and after this course, we will try our best to do more to protect birds. I also told my friends about the Seven Simple Actions to Protect Birds, and that is another action that will help protect birds; if more people know about the actions, more people will apply them, and the more people that apply them, the more birds that are protected.-------Activity 3: My lifetime has been short, so I haven't seen any big changes in bird populations.--------Activity 4: After doing this course, my family and I want to buy a new pair of 10x42 binoculars and eventually a spotting scope. I want to take the Photography Course by Melissa Groo to see if I can take better and more advanced photos of birds, and, of course, my family and I will try our best to implement the Seven Simple Actions to Protect Birds. This course has been so informative and fun!
    • Richard
      Participant
      Chirps: 20
      rspayne
      Helping Birds in my world Activity 1 & 4 Why do birds matter to me?  And what’s next? I studied Physics in school and went to work in the Semiconductor Field after graduate school.  I read thousands of journal articles during my career and every issue of the 50 years or so of National Geographic that came to my various homes, but very little fiction.  Birds were an incidental part of my perennial interest in all of nature and how it all works together.  As a child I was a hunter gatherer, turning over rocks and sticks and logs looking for the creatures that lived in the earth and trees and waters that were around me in my hometown of Worcester MA. At various times I had collections of snakes and turtles and frogs and salamanders and crickets.  Birds tended to be uncatchable so the only birds I had close contact with were Tweety I and Tweety II.  They were parakeets that lived in my childhood home.  Tweety I and Tweety II were indistinguishable visually but as different as can be in personality.  It made me realize that behavioral norms must be quite variable even within the thousands of species of birds that remained free of my menagerie studies. Audubon, Roger Tory Petersen and The National Geographic were my reference manuals for the free to roam world of birds.   Last year in the middle of several medical and physical complications I gave myself a birthday present of a high quality 40-150mm zoom lens with a 2X tele-extender.   That brought the free roaming birds into my hands in much finer detail and in living brilliant color.  While I can’t touch them, I can collect their images and observe their behavior in my smaller range of motion.  The tools I learned from this course also helped me understand what to look for and what might be next for the visitors who shared my long distance detailed observations.  Despite the physical separation from my grandchildren in this crazy Covid-19 world, I have found that sharing my images with them has been a way to interest them in the world around them and have a new topic beyond dinner and playtime games and their new pool or new school explorations. Meanwhile, I moved back to MA last week and discovered several of my friendly Florida birds were well adjusted here in MA before me.  In and around the pond in my back yard yesterday I was greeted by several of the same species I had just said goodbye to in FL.  There were three great egrets along the near side of the pond along with a pair of mallard females and a little blue heron.  I notice a flash of white on the other side of the pond and it turned out to be a black crowned night heron.  For good luck a redwing black bird cam by and perched on a long strand of grass.  He sang his melodic song and set me up for my next course of identifying birds by their songs and sounds.  I will love birds going forward and have learned new tools in this course.  I am looking forward to going out on my back porch  (Massachusetts) and my lanai (Florida) and being able to picture the birds who are singing to me even when I can’t see them.
    • Ruth
      Participant
      Chirps: 5
      RuthT1918
      1-I have like watching bird since I was young but not tracking them.  I have noticed the decline of some species in my native home, PR. I can see the importance of keeping up tracking the birds not just watching them. When I moved to the Southwest I did not know there were that many species, it has been fun to be able to know the names and areas they live. I have always likes humming birds so I have use the feeders and planted garden with native plants that benefit for the birds, butterflies, and other native animals. I can see how important is to keep a track of the ones I see and use the e-bird app. 2- I try to avoid plastic as much as possible; have used native plants ( they do so much better in the Southwest), they need less water and can take the high hot temperatures. I am using a bird bath as the temperatures have been very high in AZ, the need for water affects birds and other animals. 4- My son who lives in the Northeast was the one who recommended the apps and web from Auburn, has been fun and educational. I have new tools (and now binoculars) to use when I go out to the parks or from my backyard to monitor the variety of birds that we have here. The information and education has helped me identify the birds better. I think this was very helpful, toward my understanding of the amazing birds, the things I can do to improve their quality of life and mine specially during pandemic being mostly at home, have become more aware of the multiple birds that come to bring some joy, with music, and learn about their tricks to get food and water.  Thank you.
    • Kathleen
      Participant
      Chirps: 12
      nielsenearl
      I did enjoy the Joy of Birdwatching class!  It reminded me of many things from my Ornithology class 49 years ago.  It taught me many new things that I took in gladly.  It made me think about the future, and how "Silent Spring" can happen if we leave things the way they are.  But if it is up to me, that sad morning will not happen.  I'm still struggling with e-Bird.
    • Kathleen
      Participant
      Chirps: 12
      nielsenearl
      Helping Birds in Your World Activity 2: Think about the Seven Simple Actions to Protect Birds. Which are you already doing? Could you practice any of them more extensively, or start trying more of them? What other actions can you think of that could help birds? Share in the discussion. Activity 3: Have you noticed bird populations changing over your lifetime? Share your observations in the discussion. I think I must add Activity 3, since I am 73, and have lived in so many places [Minnesota, Nebraska, South Dakota, Colorado, New Mexico, Sweden and Washington state]. Activity 2 helped me to make some decisions, as well as decisions I made long ago.  While in MN a beautiful oriole hit our corner window, and was killed.  I made a decision then to put some full-sized adhesive birds on our windows, and not one more crashed.  I used them in all large windows in every house. We’ve always planted native [as well as some roses, marigolds and food plants], but the Minnesota plan to pay to plant bee-loving plants seems like an idea that’s good for birds as well. We have used no pesticides since we went to NM.  That meant listening for tomato worms and plucking them off. We are now [state mandated] using only paper bags and re-re-re-using plastics.  Paper bags are great kindling for camp fires and fireplace. We started with Christmas Bird Count 53 years ago in the Black Hills of SD.  It was -10° F and about 2 feet of snow! The other 2:  cats and bird-friendly coffee, well we don’t have cats, but we drink coffee.  Thanks for the idea! Activity 3 I’ve been thinking about this for a while.  As a girl, my favorite summer place was the lake in northern Minnesota.  There wasn’t a bald eagle or a loon to be seen.  But there were other birds galore!  Eastern Phoebe woke me every morning, Purple Martins [didn’t hurt my aunt had a house for them], American Goldfinch [black seeds attracted them], Great Blue Herons [Shy-poke as mom called them], gulls decorated the docks, mergansers [with lots of little ones] and a bird I loved but I never heard again after about 7 years, we called it the xylophone bird because its song sounded like that, and because we didn’t know the name. Thanks to hard work by the rangers, I saw the first Bald Eagle, about five years ago.  My cousin hears loons in spring and fall.  Martins, Goldfinches, Herons, gulls, and mergansers are still there, but the Eastern Phoebes seem to be gone, and the little xylophone bird seems to have gone for good.
    • rita
      Participant
      Chirps: 15
      rlaurance
      I really enjoyed this course. I think that I will look for bird friendly coffee, and put some kind of window safety decoration up. I recently started citizen science and I truly enjoy it. I like going out on walks and trying to be extremely quiet and still so as not to disturb the birds, and listening for the bird songs and trying to identify them. I think that over my lifetime the bird population has decreased, but here in Washtenaw County we have done so much to provide habitat for birds that I am sure there are more birds here and more varieties of birds than when I was young. We have tons of designated nature areas. I would like to continue ebirding, but first I am going to sign up for another class!
    • Bill
      Participant
      Chirps: 5
      wdlovern
      I enjoyed learning about and trying other features of the eBird program.
    • oakdale
      Participant
      Chirps: 3
      kmcnaugh
      I am not an expert but I do enjoy birding.  I grew up in Northwest Ohio and never had any idea of the opportunities I could have seeing birds in their migrations.  After this course, one activity I have tried to to engage in is watching what birds I can see from my back porch on the 2nd floor of my house/  I have been delighted with watching a variety of species and observing the birds' behavior. Now, as I drive hinder and yon I watch for birds within my city and suburbs.
    • Kelly
      Participant
      Chirps: 1
      kerwin0821
      Another excellent Bird Academy course.
    • Jennifer
      Participant
      Chirps: 7
      jennferguson76
      Activity 1: Birds are an obsession that began about ten years for me, but that interest has deepened. Some of this course was an excellent refresher for me, but the habitat session really deepened my knowledge of birds and habitats as that was something I only had a cursory appreciation of. I also found the bird savior portion to be a revelation. I've never really thought much about behavior, so I would like to learn more. Birds matter to me because it brings joy. As a coping mechanism during Covid-19, I've kept a bird list of birds I see from my home office window, and it has kept me sane. Activity 2: I currently have very limited use of plastic and I participate in Citizen Science. I am interested in researching what native plants would be appropriate for my backyard (native, non-toxic to dogs, et cetera) to make my backyard more hospitable. Activity 4: I would really like to find a bird watching group. I've also been non-committal about my bird lists and observations, and I now feel less pressured to keep those records in a consistent way.
    • clara
      Participant
      Chirps: 6
      clarys_clgd
      Los pájaros me llegaron a importar porque son animales importantes para mantener un ecosistema sano y creo que las personas pueden aprender mucho de la naturaleza a través de ellos. Mi pensamiento sobre las aves se ha reforzado con el curso ya que aprendí muchas cosas mas sobre ellas Las acciones que realice fueron empezar a plantar plantas nativas en lugares como áreas protegidas, reduje y reciclo los platicos que genero en mi hogar. Dentro de otras cosas que se pueden hacer es generar más interés en la población para que aprendan mas sobre las aves se puede lograr esto a través del turismo
    • Brad
      Participant
      Chirps: 8
      bmiles33
      Bought my first Duck Stamp recently.  Pretty easy way to support bird habitats.  Looking for some shade grown coffee next.
    • Louisa
      Participant
      Chirps: 8
      lulu1
      Activity 2.  I have placed deterrents on the windows of my house where I noted bird collisions have happened and tried to place my feeders at appropriate distances to limit the probability of a collision.  I am also a member of Golden Eagle Audubon’s Advocacy Committee where we are trying to get local governments to adopt anti-collision ordinances for new construction and to encourage anti-collision measures on existing buildings.  I keep my cat indoors and only let him outdoors under supervision.  I am planting native vegetation in my backyard and hope to work with my HOA to allow me to remove more lawn in favor of native vegetation.  I don’t drink coffee, but plan to purchase bird-friendly coffee for my guests who do drink coffee.  I have tried to reduce the amount of plastic in my life, but it’s extremely difficult as everything seems to either be made of plastic or contained/encased in plastic and only minimal plastic recycling occurs in this area. Activity 3.  In my 19 years of living in western Oregon, I noticed shifts in bird populations.  Black phoebes and red-shouldered hawks moved north into my area.  Varied thrushes are in noticeable decline.  Eurasian collared-doves reached northwest Oregon around 2010 and I saw a decline in mourning doves.  Interestingly following the severe winter of 2016-17, Eurasian collared-doves seemed to decline and mourning doves seemed to increase.  I saw a precipitous drop in house finches coming to my feeders when avian conjunctivitis appeared around 2014 or 15 and populations were still recovering when I moved in 2019.   Long-time residents of where I now live in Idaho tell me that Bewick’s wrens and lesser goldfinch populations have been increasing.  Mosquito abatement due to the presence of West Nile Virus appeared to have led to a decrease in common nighthawks.
    • Mary
      Participant
      Chirps: 7
      MDV1952
      Birds are a critical part of our ecosystem in so many ways.   This course has inspired me to continue to learn more about birds and to take actions to protect them.  I also plan to become more involved in citizen science activities.  This spring I participated in the Global Bird Day and Nest Watch.  I plan to continue to participate in these types of activities and as well as advocacy activities.
    • Bobette
      Participant
      Chirps: 5
      Bobettem
      Activity 2, I have certified my yard as a wildlife habitat by providing food (planting native plants), providing a place for them to raise their young, cover, water and I have reduced the use of pesticides in my yard. I left a dead tree in my yard and this year I had a downy woodpecker nesting in it. For the first time, I had a pair of Bluebirds nest in my nest box. The native plants I have planted provide a food source for pollinators (like caterpillars and other insects) in turn provides a food For the birds. Activity 3. I have noticed a decline in redwing black birds, scissors tail flycatchers, and loggerhead shrikes.
    • Kelsey
      Participant
      Chirps: 2
      kelsoh
      This course has completely changed the way I think about birds! Due to COVID and staying home more I noticed more birds in my backyard. This was during spring migration, so they were different that what I normally see. I stumbled upon this course during this time and it has really helped me learn more about birds and all their amazing abilities, as well as learning more about birding. I have really come to enjoy watching birds from my backyard and going out birding, as paying attention to birds is an accessible, everyday way to connect with nature. This course has helped me get into birding, which has opened up a whole other world that I was oblivious too. I am doing a few things to help birds already, such as reducing my plastic use. I am going to look into adding some window decorations to help reduce the chance of birds hitting our windows, and try to find bird friendly coffee. In the future I would like to make my garden more bird and bee friendly by planting more native plants. I think the next steps of my birdwatching journey will be to continue learning more about birds by taking another Bird Academy course. I think I would like to take the one on Hawk and Raptor identification. I would also like to learn more about the anatomy of birds so I can be better at IDing birds. I will also continue to get out birding! This has been a very enjoyable course and one that I am very grateful to have found!
    • patricia
      Participant
      Chirps: 3
      patriciaij
      Thank you for the  list of things we can do to protect birds. I want to highlight one super Important action: Voting vote for candidates with a green track record, who have shown commitment to deal with the climate crisis; work to get the right candidates elected both nationally and locally.  Join an environmental action group and donate to the cause i feel that these actions will carry a lot of weight
    • Hannah
      Participant
      Chirps: 8
      hvelde
      Activity 1: Birds matter to me because they are a part of Creation. They make me happy. They teach me about the world. This course has taught me that birds are also great indicators of environmental health. An abundance of birds points toward a thriving environment. Activity 2: I always keep my two cats indoors. It has been for their own safety, but I now realize it is also important for the safety of the birds that frequent my yard. I try to recycle and cut down on waste. I have started engaging in citizen science recently as I log my sightings via eBird. I keep my distance from nests that are in use. I limit the frequency and volume at which I play bird sounds on my phone so as not to stress the birds out or trick them. I could certainly stand to be more eco-friendly in how I live. I have never tried shade-grown coffee, but I might. I would like to hang some zen blinds on my bay windows to keep birds from colliding with them. I would like to plant some native plants in my yard, as well. Activity 3: I am only 19 years old, so I haven’t really noticed changes in bird population over my lifetime (although I am certain there have been changes). As well, I only recently started birding. I also moved across the country when I was younger, so the bird species that are common where I live now are different than the ones present where I grew up. Activity 4: I would like to become an active member of a birding club at some point when the COVID-19 pandemic no longer prevents people from getting together. I would also like to witness bird migration in the fall, as I did not become interested in birding until just after the spring migrations took place this year, so I missed them. This course has really taught me a lot of the foundations of birding. I used this course to teach me how to log bird sightings, which pair of binoculars to purchase, and the major bird identification clues. I have practiced many of the skills I learned in this course.
    • Gabrielle
      Participant
      Chirps: 6
      gaviots
      Activity 2. We are going to plant some more native bird-friendly plants in our yard/garden. We are also going to keep working on reducing plastic.
    • Margaret
      Participant
      Chirps: 13
      pegkahn
      Activity 4. I will be taking small steps to continue and maybe intensify bird-watching, both through some personal effort and through the local Audubon chapter. I have been taking almost daily morning nature/bird-watching walks very locally, focusing on what I can see easily; heron-watching has continued to be attractive. After receiving information from the local Audubon chapter, a friend and I did locate a nesting osprey sitting on the backstop of a high school baseball diamond (near the cell tower where it is nesting) and were able to watch it in flight. I need help making progress on bird sound—very difficult for me to move beyond the really common and easy-to-identify songs and calls. I am also interested in bird behavior and bird science generally and will explore the Cornell university-level beginning ornithology course and will continue reading. I was interested in Eva Meijer’s book, Animal Languages, and what she says about birds, and I am thinking about reading some of Jennifer Ackerman. Any recommendations? I am a social scientist with a focus on  human well-being and public policies, but as I have just retired from full-time teaching and research I am making a small pivot towards ecology and the natural environment, and it seems birds may be my entry point.
    • Margaret
      Participant
      Chirps: 13
      pegkahn
      Activity 2. We try hard to limit or eliminate plastics. While some retailers have moved in a better direction, many still automatically dispense lots of plastic bags, and it requires alertness and intention to avoid these. We avoid all pesticides in our yard and vegetable garden. We have tried to plant bird-friendly plants within the limits of our small yard and poor soil. We have maintained an overgrown cherry tree that at least one arborist has suggested we remove. We have planted Bee Balm, Butterfly Weed, and other native flowering plants, and our landscaper says that the grasses he planted in the front yard are bird-friendly in that birds use these grasses to build nests. We could do better here, with Milkweed (we are a monarch-friendly street), Yarrow (abundant in several naturalized areas nearby), Coneflower and Black-eyed Susan, all of which grow in yards on our street. We buy annuals, Calibrachoa, that are hummingbird-friendly. I hope to become more informed and active in bird protection through the local Audubon chapter and Natural Areas Preservation unit of the city. Public policy-- at national, regional, state and local levels-- matters.
    • Marlene
      Participant
      Chirps: 17
      mg47831
      After reading the Seven Simple Acti0ns to Protect Birds list, I am happy to say that I do practice many of these already. For example, I hang as many sun-catchers, window art or other colorful things that I can find in my windows. Having experienced a few bird -window collisions in past years, I find that the more things you can creatively place in your windows, the safer you make it for birds. Although I sometimes get questioned about all of my "window art", it has actually become a topic of many conversations. It might not be for everyone, but if you don't use window coverings or shades, colorful window art can make a big difference. I also never use spray pesticides on our yard plants and flowers, for fear they will harm the birds and other wildlife in our area. We often have to deal with the mosquitoes and other bothersome insects a bit more, but it is worth it! We still lightly apply insect repellent on ourselves, but we just don't spray it all over the yard. Although we don't have a cat, we watch for any strays that might be stalking around the birds. We limit our plastic container purchases and never use bottled water. We have an Artesian well so our tap water is very good, and we always use reusable shopping bags whenever we can. Lastly, we are going to make a concerted effort to count and track birds more using the EBird app to help do our part in collecting data.  Watching birds everyday from NW Wisconsin.   Enjoy everyone!
    • Sophia
      Participant
      Chirps: 2
      sifp44
      I have always admired birds and am extremely intrigued by how amazing they are. They are very important for the Earth, but many people don't think about that. Without them, things would be totally different. I recently planted lots of chemical free flowers in my backyard, and I even have a little garden that attracts many diverse species of birds. Even though it's something small, I am positive that it has helped the birds in my neighborhood. This course was truly educational and I enjoyed learning more about these beautiful creatures!
    • Catherine
      Participant
      Chirps: 16
      cvanderplaats
      Act 1: Birds have always mattered to me--even as a child I loved to watch them. As an adult I've tried to be more 'scientific' and precise,  identify them and find out more about them. Sooo birds are important--just as every other animal, actually! They pollinate, and otherwise help spread seeds, clean up what other animals leave behind, provide food and so much pleasure! Act 2: In my area (Prov of Quebec), plastic bags have been outlawed (though in our current conditions the stores do seem to be using them again--sigh...), and am careful with elastic bands, too. I'm also an avid, organic, gardener and, as much as possible, use native plants--and will now be more.... obsessive about it! Act 3: In my observations I have noticed changes in the bird population, but I credit that in part to the fact that I now know more. There are some species I now see that I didn't before, and some in larger flocks. I compare what I see to my (vintage) Roger Tory Peterson guide, and do find that his "northernmost range" has been extended: some birds that were limited to the New England states are now fairly common here. Act 4: I have very much enjoyed this course, especially the input of others, located near and far from me. Their participation made the course come alive for me. I have also enjoyed (am enjoying every day!) the live birdcams, especially the Sapsucker Woods one, which is close to my ecological area. I found the ability to watch a bunch of different birds at the same time to be very good for learning to distinguish males from females, from juveniles, the different blackbirds and woodpeckers, their feeding behaviour..... I may try to have a bird feeder again--had to give it up because I couldn't make it squirrel proof (in spite of buying one that was supposed to be.....). Thank you, Cornell, and thank you all participants! Catherine
    • Sophia
      Participant
      Chirps: 3
      sophiamathews
      Activity 2: I already work hard to decrease my plastic use.  I use reusable grocery bags, have a set of reusable utensils, and use metal straws.  Something I didn't know about before this lesson was "bird friendly" or "shade grown" coffee.  I will look into that for the future! Activity 4: This course has made me think about and notice birds a lot more.  I got the Merlin app and will now try to figure out what birds I'm seeing.  I want to start taking more bird pictures too.  Taking this course has made me be curious about and appreciate birds.
    • IRENE
      Participant
      Chirps: 1
      bowersi
      I took this course as a way to provide quality time for an elderly family member who suffers from dementia. It proved a huge success due to the good visual content, succinct lessons and ease of accessibility for her--course sections were able to be understood without reference to previous material. Although this family member cannot remember specifics from the course, there is no doubt that it stimulated her thinking, augmented her delight in the birds at our feeders and brought deep satisfaction at "attending college," which she had long wished to do. That the course improved my knowledge and interest in birds was a happy side effect of trying to care for a loved one with dementia. Simply stated, she put the JOY in the Joy of Birdwatching. Thanks to all of you, instructors and class members, for adding to her life!
      • Cathy
        Participant
        Chirps: 37
        cgtv123
        Irene.  What a wonderful idea to share the course with your family member.  You have a heart of gold to look out for your family member in that way.  I hope that it goes as well as it can.  It's great that your family member will use a computer and was able to enjoy the class with you.  Best wishes.  Cathy
    • Sarah
      Participant
      Chirps: 8
      PowellS9
      Activity 2: I already have bird safe windows, keep cats indoors or on the 'catio,' and in some ways have reduced plastics, planted native species in our garden, and started to use eBird to begin contributing to citizen science.  I could check to make sure the coffee I drink is bird friendly, and focus on buying produce that reduces pesticide use.  I also could reduce plastics in my life more and participate more in citizen science. Activity 4: I am looking forward to continuing to learn how to ID different birds by sight and sound and create more lists on eBird to track my lifetime sightings and help with citizen science!  This course inspired me to get familiar with birding technology and resources that help do this and are really pretty user friendly.  I had previously felt kind of intimidated by them and didn't feel I was "good enough" at birding to make lists if I was by myself and not with an experienced birder.  But everyone starts somewhere. I already loved birds but this course reminded me how interesting they are in many ways.  Thanks for the great course!
    • Cynthia
      Participant
      Chirps: 2
      credford62
      This course has opened my eyes to all the different bird species there are and how they affect our ecosystem. I never really knew how important a role they play in it. Birds are very intriguing to me. I now have a bird feeder and able to watch the different birds that come into my yard to feed. I have taken more walks in nature to bird watch and see how they interact in nature and with themselves and other birds. I will be taking pictures also and learning more about birds as this is a new found love of mine - bird watching. I also want to get  a birdbath for my yard too. I get excited whenever I see a new bird at my feeder! Or even if there are more than one bird at a time.
    • Charlotte
      Participant
      Chirps: 10
      Cnemeth
      I provide a diverse habitat along with a variety of food options in the hope of attracting and sustaining as many birds as I can. Since it is late spring in  northern NJ, I am currently the host to the enchanting hummingbirds. I have a dedicated section of flowers loved by them along with feeders that I diligently clean and maintain. It is joyful to watch them flit around. All of the birds that visit my yard enrich my day and I could not imagine a world without them.
    • susan
      Participant
      Chirps: 7
      stangen
      I find watching birds a very relaxing activity, but I never really thought of the environmental importance birds provide.  Birds help population control of other living things in the environment. They are the cleaners of the land as they eat the rotting carcasses.  They are the pollinators of flowers.  I have watched the bird species increased in my yard for the last 20 years.  When we moved into our house in the city 20 years ago, the yard was all turf with a couple peony plants and a lilac shrub with little bird activity.  I have planted evergreens, trees, and different height flowering shrubs.  I still have a little turf  in the yard.  I leave the fall leaves in the flower and shrub beds and shredded some leaves to save for mulch that I put in the beds mid summer.  I have different feeders suppling different foods such as safflower and sunflower seed, orange halves, suet, sugar water.  Now I have humming birds, all different kinds of sparrows and finches, orioles, robins, doves, thrushes, chickadees, sapsuckers and a Cooper’s hawk that comes through to help control the the over abundance of house sparrows(just to name some).  I may not be able to control the destruction of the environment of the area around me but I can provide an area for birds(and monarchs) to thrive in my little oasis.
    • Kenneth R
      Participant
      Chirps: 6
      kennethrwindsor
      Activity 1: This course has definitely raised my awareness not just about birds but why they matter. My focus is not on counting but on photographing the birds I have seen and I'm now using eBird to share my photos. Super excited about my new birding passion and to share what I have seen. Activity 2: We have always been proactive about adding bird friendly plants in our garden and about keep the stream clear and useful for birds to use. We're also making a concerted effort to reduce plastics in our life. Protecting these creatures should be a priority for all of us. Activity 3: While I haven't been birding that long, I have noticed the difference in just the past few years of the kinds of birding visiting our yard. I'm sad that our owl box was only used once in the past 5 years...hoping that we'll have one next year. Activity 4: I am now actively birding and documenting what I see several times a week and hoping that this contributes to the awareness to the importance of birds in our area.
    • Laura
      Participant
      Chirps: 7
      LauraBea
      Activity 1 - My mother loved birds and always had a feeder and she instilled a love of birds in all her children. I have always felt birds are important but this course has taught me so many fascinating things about them that I think they are even more awesome than I did before. Activity 2 - The one new item for me on this list was the shade-grown coffee. I am not a coffee drinker but my other family members are, and I am going to share with them the importance of buying this type of coffee. I think another way to help birds is to share with others what I've learned in this course. I think the more that people know about birds, the more they will see how special they are and will be motivated to protect them also. Activity 3- When my husband and I have traveled around the country I have often expressed surprise and disappointment that I haven't seen more birds. It seems like there used to be more birds in general. I recall seeing flocks on telephone poles and similar places but don't see that as often. On the California coast I don't see as many seagulls as there used to be, though there seem to be more crows. Activity 4 - As a result of this course I would like to buy a good pair of binoculars and be involved as a Citizen Scientist in reporting the birds I see. I also would like to be able to identify more birds by their songs/calls, and make bird watching part of my travel experiences. I definitely want to learn more about birds and be more involved in protecting birds.
    • Karen
      Participant
      Chirps: 11
      Northstar56
      Activity 1: This course has made me more aware of the lives of birds. I understand a bit more about what's going on when I see and hear birds. I appreciate more about birds globally and their lives away from my local area. As the course states, birds are an important part of the overall functioning of the ecosystem and are much more that beautiful to look at and hear. Activity 2: We live on 5 acres of mostly undeveloped land and plan to leave it that way. The trees and shrubs on our property are home to many birds. One thing I could do is look for shade grown coffee. Activity 4: I would like to get out with my local naturalist group when lifting of restrictions allows for it. As a result of this course and the influence of a birding friend, I now take pictures of birds, identify them, and submit to e-bird on a more regular basis.
    • PABLO
      Participant
      Chirps: 1
      araquejc
      Activity 2: In our garden we use organic pesticides.Also, I wrote a paragraph for my school about recycling plastic. And lastly, I have submitted 2 nests to NESTWATCH.
    • Joan
      Participant
      Chirps: 1
      Rew_Joan
      Activity 1: This is the first course I have taken on birding and I found it absolutely fascinating. Whenever I am outdoors in my yard or on walks in the neighbourhood  I now  look and listen for birds and observe their behaviour. We have a robin's nest on an outdoor deck speaker  and it has been so interesting to watch the different stages of development from nest building, incubation, brooding and feeding. I have also watched birds in our trees performing a variety of self care practices. Activity 2: Some of the actions I have taken to protect birds is purchasing decals to put on my windows, planting native plants and using eco-friendly pesticides. Within the last year I have minimized the use of plastics especially for grocery shopping. On account of COVID 19  local grocery stores in Winnipeg, Manitoba discourage the use of reusable cloth bags but this is temporary. Activity 4: As current pandemic restrictions are based in my province I would like to join a local birding group on occasion and visit a local marshland area.  
    • Aaron
      Participant
      Chirps: 16
      A.M.Bradley
      This year has been pretty slow in terms of bird activity. Compared to last year. Not many migrants, barely any hummingbirds.
    • Lucy
      Participant
      Chirps: 3
      lucyggibson
      I have really enjoyed this course, it's been well worth it! Even though it did concentrate more heavily towards North American species, which is what I was expecting, it was also very adaptable/relevant to where I live (Australia). As far as actions I have taken to help birds, I can honestly say I do all of them! I am a responsible pet owner and my two moggies are 'indoor only' cats. They enjoy their time out in their 'catio' and they are also harness trained. I work with the local shorebird recovery coordinator in our area to keep watch over our shorebirds during peak nesting/breeding times. I'm a big advocate for eating seasonally and buying locally grown produce that is farmed without the use of pesticides and I keep my plastic use to an absolute minimum; no single use plastic in this household! My garden is made up of natives, fruit trees and vegetables and I am very selective about the products I purchase and how/where they were made and the packaging it comes in. I think we all have a duty to take these simple steps and keep our impacts to a minimum. I'm definitely going to do another course with the Cornell Bird Academy. I would love to see a course specific to shorebirds:-) I will endeavour to use ebird more consistently from here on to assist with the data collection which I realise is so important for conservation work. Thank you for all the work you do to protect and conserve our precious birds throughout the world. Well done Cornell team:-)
    • Julie
      Participant
      Chirps: 13
      juliehoskins
      Activity 1 - this course has absolutely changed my thinking. I am now recording on eBird, and while we previously enjoyed our nightly walks, now we are on the lookout for birds as well, and really enjoying it it. I noticed that while I have lived here for many years, I never heard the birds like I do now. I hear them, and am listening, not just taking it in as background sound. Activity 2 - I was pleased to see that we are already doing a number of things to support the population. Our property is largely natural here in Southern California, lots of oaks and shrubs. There is a ton of bird life in the oaks, in fact the reason I even found this course was because I was trying to identify an owl on our property, and Cornell kept popping up with great info during my online search. The trees and shrubs that we do have planted support a lot of hummingbird life, lots of flowering trees. We just added two feeders to our backyard, and while it took about a week, the birds have found it! It is great fun to watch. Also, our cats are indoors. However, we do have bobcats...can’t  do much about that, and they are part of our ecosystem. I would like to do better with the water bottle consumption, it’s pretty unnecessary. Will work on that next! Activity 3 - I have lived here almost my entire life, most noticeable thing to me has been the increase in parrots....But we love them. Also, there seem to be more hawks. Activity 4 - I joined our local Audubon society and am going to continue with eBird. Maybe take more classes here! Also found out that a friend from college who I have known 30 years is a birder, and quite accomplished. I never knew this. Sure fun to grow a friendship unexpectedly. Thanks for a great course!
    • Ann
      Participant
      Chirps: 3
      annekinnealey
      Activity 2. I am already limiting my use of plastic products and recycle everything that I can. In restaurants, I request, " no straw please". I do enjoy grinding my coffee beans, but now I will request shade grown coffee. I will consider becoming a member of the landscaping committee at my homeowners association. Activity 3. I have noticed changes in the bird population in my lifetime: now I frequently see large wild turkeys which I never did before. They usually are in pairs and seem to bicker a lot! They seem to be attracted to moving car tires and occasionally stop traffic! Activity 4. This course inspired my to make every morning dog walk into a 1 hour bird watch. My retired Greyhound is old and slow, so it works out quite well. When I return home, I look up birds I didn't recognize. I'm keeping a handwritten list (for now, will consider eBird, but I don't want birding to become a competitive sport for me). Ann
    • Carol
      Participant
      Chirps: 12
      Carol8632
      Activity 1- Birds matter to me in that I enjoying watching them and photographing them. This course has taught me a lot. I was amazed at the number of birds lost but happy to hear of the gains in some species. Activity 2- I will look into planting native species. I do have a lot of plants in my garden and avoid pesticides. I try to use safer methods to help with insects in the garden, like soap mixture that is not harmful. I get an organic product from friends that do organic gardening. I put out bird seed regularly Activity 3 - I am seeing more Wood Ducks in our area which was one of the ducks that population grew.  I feel I see less warblers all this year did see more than some years. Activity 4 - I participated in May 9 bird day and tried to submit many checklists. I will look into the Project Feeder watch for the winter. I was amazed how all these lists from all over the world help in bird research.
    • Moya
      Participant
      Chirps: 5
      moyakinnealey
      I have really enjoyed this course and I have learned so much about identifying birds and understanding and interpreting their behavior.  I have done a number of things to protect birds including putting clear  decals on my windows that don't detract but allow the birds to see the window. (I ordered them on line). I keep my cat inside . I put out a variety of seeds in feeders that appeal to different species. My major effort recently is to replant  my yard with native species, severely diminish the amount of lawn, and make it  a  welcoming  habitat for birds and  wildlife.  The space is about 1/4  acre (in the city) including the house, lots of trees, bushes  and plantings. However I have seen an amazing number of species and bird pairs this year. I am hoping to gently encourage some neighbors to join me in creating a natural corridor of habitat. I have to be a little careful as one neighbors is apt to  catch the wildlife I attract to relocate it and everyone seems enthralled with tidiness.
    • Nicole
      Participant
      Chirps: 10
      rosie2020
      I have truly enjoyed this course and reading the posts from the community. Although I have always appreciated and respected the environment it has been only recently that I have really paid attention and tuned in to learning about birds and how they are essential on so many levels. I have also learned a great deal from watching birds at my own feeders and now that I am learning to photograph- I can and will sit for long periods of time just observing.  Until spending some time at Audubon sites and reading I had no idea of the number of birds we have lost during my lifetime- it is staggering. I believe I follow most of the 7 simple actions but since I live in a condo I will be planting natives on my deck as to encourage and support the birds and pollinators. I have been conscious about the plastics I use and have reduced that a great deal just from using a reusable water bottle. I don't drink coffee but I will be sharing and urging others to be mindful of this issue. As I sit typing this a bird just bumped my window. However, I believe it is because the starlings (sometimes 8-10 of them) are fighting at the feeder and get carried away- not sure if there is a way to protect them from the glass. The two courses I have taken have fueled my interest and love of birding, photography and inspired me to become more involved with citizen science and open to learning more about birds, their environment and what our responsibility it to them. The courses have inspired me to use merlin and ebird and to get up early to seek out new birds and learn as much as I can about their migration and behaviors. I will continue to take courses, read, watch, observe, take pictures and become more involved in learning about how to protect birds and educate others about their essential role in our lives and our planets health.
    • Alexis
      Participant
      Chirps: 5
      LLLearner
      Thanks to this course, I do a much better job of seeing rather than just walking and kinda sorta looking. In my neighborhood, I often see American Robins, sparrows (especially House Sparrows), cardinals, mourning doves, plus the inevitable European Starlings and crows. While taking this course, I’ve seen chickadees, red-winged blackbirds, a mallard duck feeding at and below the surface of the water, a pileated woodpecker in flight at dusk that I only believed because the Merlin app confirmed it, red-bellied woodpeckers, hairy woodpeckers, goldfinches, a house finch, an eastern bluebird, gray catbirds that I’d been hearing but hadn’t seen, and the list goes on. All this without going outside my usual routes for walking. I thought that current circumstances would mean putting on hold  my plan to become a better bird watcher. All praise to the Bird Academy for proving me wrong, and for making me feel less alone!
    • Alistair
      Participant
      Chirps: 3
      AGMunro
      Great course that has made bird-watching even more pleasurable and fun. Wish I had done this a long time ago and now it has become a firm hobby favourite.
    • Mary Ann
      Participant
      Chirps: 13
      makelly415
      Activity 3- We have noticed a significant increase in eagles in our area over the years. In the winter, they are abundant on the Hudson! I can’t comment on any declining bird populations since I just really starting watching the birds! Activity 4- I can’t wait to be able go on official bird walks with these knowledgeable people from the local Audubon group. This class was so enlightening and I had plenty of quarantined time to put into it. I also want learn how to take great pictures of the birds I see- like some of my fellow birders have been posting! Thank you!
    • Mary Ann
      Participant
      Chirps: 13
      makelly415
      Activity 1 My story is that I retired in December as a Science teacher, snowbirded for 2 months south, and returned to NY at the height of Covid. Birding has been such a welcome escape from the doom and gloom around me! I have been doing Zoomed Bird Chats with the local Audubon chapter and getting out for birding walks. I am a newbie to everything but learning about birds and their lives has a been a real joy! The course was great- organized, planned-out well, great visuals! Activity 2 1. No pesticides on our lawn! 2. Native plants in front of my house 3. Definitely need to work on the coffee issue 4. My front window has vertical blinds that seem to help the window crashes. 5. Plastics are tough. My town recycles and we participate, but I want to try buying less and using less plastics. There is a pilot program that is called “Loop”, but I am not sure if we can use it in our area. The idea is to refill containers, like detergents, rather than buying a new one each time. 6. Citizen Science- Great to have these apps on my phone when I walk! They are so helpful!
    • Patrick
      Participant
      Chirps: 8
      pyoung_2024
      This course has completely changed how I look at birds and how I feel about bird conservation. This course was great hope all of you fellow birders learned a lot too.
    • Danya
      Participant
      Chirps: 14
      dfurda
      Activity 1:  All of nature matters to me - the environment, trees, plants, animals, fish, birds!  I already knew that birds are important to the environment; however, this course has made me get out and observe them more.  And, the more I observe and know about birds the more appreciative I am of them.  Activity 2:  I do all of the seven actions already except for having numerous native plants and purchasing shade-grown coffee for my husband.  I will certainly purchase shade-grown coffee from now on!  We are currently doing research on installing a rain garden in our backyard since we have pooling water, despite having put in yard drains a few years ago.  When we do, we will be sure to plant native Ohio plants, not the ornamentals.  We are also considering a bird bath to go along with our three feeders.  I listened to a webinar from the Ohio Historical Connection about bird migration, and the number one suggestion from the host was to plant native trees, especially oaks.  We have two oaks already, but I would be interested in planting another native tree to soak up all the water we get in the corner of our yard.  Activity 3:  We are in our early 50s and definitely have noticed a reduction in bird populations.  I remember seeing swarms of birds, especially during fall migration, growing up in eastern Ohio.   Activity 4:  We will be planting native plants in our new rain garden, purchasing shade-grown coffee, doing the eBird essentials class, and continuing to get out more to observe birds.  (My husband has taken so many pictures since we began our twice weekly bird watching at area metro parks since mid-April that I will need to make a Shutterfly album entitled, Spring Migration 2020!)  This course and the birding has really helped my mental heath during this pandemic.  Thank you!
    • Jay
      Participant
      Chirps: 19
      PeanutJay
      Activity 2: Thinking about the Seven Simple Actions to Protect Birds, there are a few I’m doing already but more that I need to make a more concerted effort to practice. 1) Making windows safer. I’ve been shocked by the scale and scope of the problem with birds and glass (https://abcbirds.org/blog/truth-about-birds-and-glass-collisions). BirdNote also had a good episode on the problem (https://www.birdnote.org/birds-glass). The front window of our home is a culprit, so I’d like to try one of these products (https://abcbirds.org/get-involved/bird-smart-glass/). The Zen Curtain or  Feather Friendly solutions look promising. I’d welcome anyone’s thoughts or experience with these products. 2) Keep cats indoors. Not applicable in my case, but I sent some info around our neighborhood mail group, reminding folks to try keeping cats indoors or on “Catios” — especially during the spring nesting season. 3) Plant native plants. This has been an amazing (and fun) transformation for my back garden. Thanks to the course for the link to Audubon’s resources (https://www.audubon.org/PLANTSFORBIRDS). 4) Reduce pesticide use. Proud to say that I’m not using any. I’ve used neem oil in certain cases for pest insects on leafy plants (http://npic.orst.edu/factsheets/neemgen.html). Collectively, I’m sure lawns must be one of the worst offenders. Folks dump all kinds of stuff on their front lawns and then (at least it seems to me) never use them anyway. I’m slowly shrinking the size of my lawn with native plantings and, otherwise, letting a variety of mosses, clovers, and wild violets take over. I keep them trimmed so as not to be a total social outcast! 5) Drink coffee that’s good for birds. Wowzers. This cuts close to home. I’d assumed my favorite Peet’s coffee was bird friendly or shade grown.. but, apparently not! Can’t find anything on their website about it let alone product labels. The Smithsonian has this useful resource for finding such coffees (https://nationalzoo.si.edu/migratory-birds/where-buy-bird-friendly-coffee)… needless to say, I’m looking for a new brand! 6) Reduce and reuse plastics. Hardly any plastics are recyclable in my area (only numbers 1 & 2). However, I’ve found a nearby town that accepts #5. For other plastic films/bags, I’ve found that nearby grocery chains accept these along with store bags. 7) Citizen science. This is definitely one of the more fun ones. This course has been a great introduction to eBird, Feeder Watch, and the Great Backyard Bird Count.
    • Sylvia
      Participant
      Chirps: 9
      SylviaA
      Activity #1: The course reinforced my feeling that birds are endlessly fascinating, and symbols of a healthy environment, wherever they are. I never want to experience a "Silent Spring." Also as a musician, I relate so intensely to birds' music...happily anyone can enjoy birdsong though!! Activity #2: I live in a sixth-floor NYC apt., so don't have garden or lawn. But if I did, I now have your lists of ways to keep them healthy. Bird strikes are not an issue because of the bars on my windows (but if I ever move to the country, I like knowing how to make sure my windows are not death traps, thanks to this course). I drink tea, not coffee, so I thought I was off the hook on this one -- HOWEVER, it turns out that my favorite brand of tea might use pesticides. So I'm doing the research, and if it's not organic pesticide-free, I'll change tea brands! My cats have always been indoor cats; and I shop with reusable cloth bags and recycle any kind of plastic (and paper and glass...). Activity #3: Yes, I've noticed bird populations going down; i.e., here were no chickadees or robins wintering over in my northern Manhattan neighborhood this year. Activity #4: Changes I'll make include (a) seeing about doing e-Bird (thanks for offering a whole course on e-Bird since I'm a bit of a luddite), (b) changing my tea brand, and (c) continuing to support conservation organizations like the Lab, Audubon, and EarthJustice.
    • Thomas
      Participant
      Chirps: 1
      tjfunk79
      Activity 1:  I initially found birds interesting as a purely photographic subject.  My parents started putting out bird feeders around the time I left for college 20 years ago and whenever I would visit I would love to try my hand at photographing the multitude of birds in the yard.  Eventually I found myself living back at home for a few months after finishing grad school and one day while I was writing out a job application I heard a thud against my window.  I went outside and found a downy woodpecker on the deck below the window, stunned and breathing heavily.  Having had no real knowledge of bird strikes at the time, I figured he was a goner, but I picked him up and brought him to a safe spot on the deck railing to give him a chance, come what may.  I tried to go back to work on my computer but every time I'd start typing I'd lose focus - I would run back out to the deck every two or three minutes to check on him.  I worried so much about this poor little bird that I eventually just stood by him for a few hours, shooing away a few cats, blue jays and crows that started snooping around.  Thankfully, he eventually got back on his feet, tentatively hopped around on the deck rail, and flew off onto a nearby tree. My whole relationship to birds and the natural world changed that day.  I stopped just seeing birds and started caring about birds.  My bird education has been slow - I moved to NYC shortly after the downy episode and was/have been very disconnected from the natural world on a daily basis ever since - but the last few years I have really started diving into birdwatching and conservation.  I like to think that little downy, and that stupid bedroom window of mine, opened my eyes to a vast world of natural beauty that I only had a surface understanding of before.  I had seen plenty of amazing landscapes before that on vacations - Yellowstone, the American Southwest, national parks in Italy, etc, all stuff that's easy to immediately see as grand and beautiful, but after that downy I learned how to find the smallest or easily overlooked parts of nature just as grand as those big landscapes.  Even sitting here in my apartment in Brooklyn for months on end during the coronavirus lockdown there's beauty all around that I'd have missed in my younger days - seeing the sparrows gather nesting material in the backyard, noticing the male cardinal singing from the same perch every morning and every evening, knowing what the mourning dove pair is doing when they preen one another, and on and on.  Just like this course says, birds really are a gateway into the natural world and into the rhythms and cycles of that world.  And they teach you to care more about it. Hence, Activity #2: I'm an architect in NYC and now I have a chance to right that wrong done to that poor downy woodpecker and countless other birds everyday.  Just this year NYC passed a new law requiring bird safe glass on the first 75' of a new building (the law kicks in at a certain square footage I believe too, I don't have the text of the law handy at the moment).  Last year I asked the NYC Audubon to give a presentation in my office on bird safe architecture - everyone who attended was shocked by the scale of the bird strike problem and very moved to do something about it.  Flash forward to a few months later and the bird safe law was passed, thanks in large part to the NYC Audubon's advocacy and some local architects, among many others.  For my part, I have been and will continue to push the use of bird safe glass  and I'm working to convince the firm to write it into our construction specifications as a requirement on all projects, above and beyond the base requirement of the new law.  At each opportunity I discuss it with our clients not so much as an option but as an investment in sustainability (always an easier sell with our institutional and educational projects than with developers).  Eventually I'd like to become even more involved in the bird safe architecture movement and either work directly with a company producing new materials and systems to deter bird strikes or perhaps design a project as a test case to help develop new methods. Sorry for the long post, but this class got me thinking about so many topics and it's helped push me further down the road of advocacy and I just wanted to share that.  Thanks!
      • Jay
        Participant
        Chirps: 19
        PeanutJay
        So much to love (and respect!) about this post. Thanks for sharing -- and for your advocacy on behalf of birds.
      • Laura
        Participant
        Chirps: 7
        LauraBea
        Wonderful post - thanks for sharing!
    • Sylvester
      Participant
      Chirps: 6
      Sylvester_Astorilax325
      How do I share my experience? I can't find where to post... Please help me!
      • Lee Ann van Leer
        Bird Academy
        LilacRoller
        You post your experience in the same manner as you posted this question. Thanks.
      • Sylvester
        Participant
        Chirps: 6
        Sylvester_Astorilax325

        @Lee Ann van Leer Thank you!

    • Link
      Participant
      Chirps: 10
      Leafblade61
      Activity 1: There's this saying in the introduction in my field guide: "Birding is not an escape from reality. Birding IS reality!" (Kenn Kaufman's Field Guide to Birds of North America.) Birding helps me see the good in the world. For a long time I've seeking escape into other worlds (which is very far from a bad thing!). This shows me that I can still find a lot of good without having to look very far. Activity 2: I'm already beginning to practice citizen science, and I don't even drink coffee. I want to get into citizen science more seriously now after what I have learned. I want to plant more native plants in my family's garden for sure. Single use plastics, get ready to be reused! Activity 4: This course has inspired me to delve into citizen science. I enjoy watching birds and learning about them, so why not use what I learn to help them! As soon as this whole virus thing is over, I'm going to attend the Wasatch Audubon meetings whenever I can. I need to find some people to go birding with.
    • Mark
      Participant
      Chirps: 7
      Mark Mcgeachie
      1. Birds are important to me for many reasons. However the greatest reason for me is that they are accessible as a manifestation of nature and the outdoors. They have a natural beauty that I find hard to explain and give me great joy when watching them. 2. I practice all seven to a greater or lesser extent but can always do better I guess. 3. There are less small birds. 4. The course has motivated me to do more bird watching and surveys. I will use Merlin and ebird more. In particular I will do more deep observation. A great course! Thank you for making it available.
    • Julian
      Participant
      Chirps: 11
      FishIsTheWord
      Activity 2: I like to reuse all my shopping bags, and I think it's important to bag up trash before putting it in a dumpster. I've noticed that a big source of litter in my town is when the automated garbage truck moves trash inside its different compartments. Especially if it's windy, loose trash blows right out and ends up in ditches which lead to bigger waterways. I would love it if there were biodegradable garbage bags, but at least I can bag something up tight to keep it from blowing around. Yard fertilizers and pesticides are harmful to ocean fish after rains wash the chemicals eventually to the oceans. Does a yard really have to be free of weeds and covered with water-hogging unnatural grass? I let my backyard grow a little wild, and the birds love it.
    • Nancy
      Participant
      Chirps: 1
      NancyOsborn
      #2 - There is much more I could do to protect birds.  As a big coffee drinker, I will definitely try to find shade grown/bird friendly coffees.  I sometimes order from Gimme Coffee right in Ithaca and found out today that they carry a bird friendly variety.
    • Sandra
      Participant
      Chirps: 31
      sg333
      Activity 4: I started taking more bird pics, while walking my dog. We are fortunate to have a large number of marshes, lakes and mountains. My dog is young and impatient. I decided today that i need to visit some hotspots on my own. It is so much fun to sit quietly in the woods or marshes and watch; rather than walking around. I am still working on finding birds by song, and i want to further my education. I have shared a lot of pictures with friends, and i am also discussing with them what we can do for birds. What's the next course? CheersMissionPrkMay2020(34)
      • Catherine
        Participant
        Chirps: 16
        cvanderplaats
        That is a lovely picture, Sandra! What is the bird???
    • Sandra
      Participant
      Chirps: 31
      sg333
      Activity 2: I have always been environmentally conscious; recycling, reducing waste, natural cleaners, vegetarian, spreading the word. I am working on shopping more locally, to reduce environmental impacts. I contribute to nature groups. My new birdbath hasn't attracted any new friends; the new bird feeder is ready to go up. It's fun sneaking into the bushes to get a peak at the birds. It's a new game; who is that birdie? I am connecting with birders out and about. Children and adults ask what I am taking pictures of. Fun!belmontApr2020 (16)
      • Sylvester
        Participant
        Chirps: 6
        Sylvester_Astorilax325
        Whoa! Great picture of a black-caped Chickadee!
    • Sandra
      Participant
      Chirps: 31
      sg333
      Activity 1: It is no surprise to me about the decline of bird populations. I knew about the increase in Bald Eagle populations. While a symbol for the U.S., Canada has alway had more Bald Eagles (to my knowledge). My love and interest of birds goes back at least 3 generations. My life slowing down has meant more time outdoors, where I have always felt peaceful. I restarted my interest in photography a little while back, and this has added to my awareness of birds. Learning to take pictures in flight is fun; the birds, not me. Lol. In British Columbia already this spring I have seen many migratory, returning, breeding and hybrid varieties that I knew existed. I am working on recognition of bird song and sound; hard work! I had always wondered about the different feeding habits and variety of birds. To my delight I have discovered I have many friends who are enthusiasts. During this time indoors for friends around the world, many friends have let me know how much my bird pictures cheer them up. Each time I post a picture I look up information on the bird in Merlin. I remember more birds when i was young. I was sad to see so many migrate last winter, and sadder still to see them in decline. This Mallard is looking at us sideways; wondering where things have gone wrong with his home.feb21-2020 (49)
      • Sylvester
        Participant
        Chirps: 6
        Sylvester_Astorilax325
        One day, I saw a couple of Mallards resting by a closed swimming pool! I wondered why Mallards will stay at a swimming pool...
    • Nat
      Participant
      Chirps: 2
      Nat Verm
      Activity 1 - I've always loved birds and watching them outdoors. I knew they were important for most of the things listed in this lesson but during the self-isolation of the pandemic their importance has helped me be positive and able to enjoy the nature that goes on and on around me (I've been able to stop and smell the roses or watch the birds in this case). The humans may have pulled an all stop and might be going through a life changing event but the birds and all of nature keep on moving even when they go through similar things constantly and come out the other side sometimes a little worse for wear but still there and living their lives. Activity 2 - I try to keep my windows reflection free and have stuck pictures on some of them to prevent the birds from hitting them. My cat stays indoors (safer for her - no owl, raptor or other predator can scoop her up or having her be hit by a car and safer for all the birds that grace the yard although she can keep away all the mice she wants!) Activity 3 - When I was just a kid (mid 1970s) the Canada Goose population was seriously endangered. To see a flock migrating was quite an event! Now they are everywhere often considered a nuisance! This is also happened with the Wild Turkey - it is one of the most successful reintroduction of a species in our area! Activity 4 - I don't think I'll change my bird watching ways or have any life changing experiences, but I will watch more carefully and appreciate the sight of a bird more than before. Happy Bird Watching everyone!
      • Catherine
        Participant
        Chirps: 16
        cvanderplaats
        Since I live on the Island of Montreal, the Canada geese often stop in the St. Lawrence River to rest, and take off in great, noisy flocks.... which I have always loved! The only thing is,..... when I see them in the Fall, it means winter is near.... And I've become personally aware of the turkey story: apparently it had become almost totally absent in the wild in the southern Quebec area until the reintroductions started.... in the 60's? So I have been thrilled to see them walking along Highway 401 in Eastern Ontario, and was just waiting for them to show up in Western Quebec, when a friend sent me a photo of one in his yard--in Laval, just north of Montreal :) Yes!
    • Mary-Lou
      Participant
      Chirps: 2
      marylou61
      I noticed this year our classroom bird feeders were visited predominantly by sparrows ( I think they were tree sparrows). Previous years we have had a lot more goldfinches, chickadees and juncos.
    • Jason
      Participant
      Chirps: 7
      Jason Stanley
      Activity 1: Good question! I think birds matter to me in the same way that all nature matters to me. It is our world. Without it, we can't survive and thrive. We are just one species in this vast and diverse (though alarmingly less and less diverse) world. I find birds beautiful and awe-inspiring, but no more than when I see mammals or fish or trees that really speak to me. I guess birds offer a way to observe wildlife that is much more present in our world than mammals and easier to observe than fish. I'm not sure this course has changed my way of thinking about birds, but it has given me food for thought as I've been out on my walks and on the balcony watching for birds. I've really enjoyed the course! Activity 2: I've become a big user of ebird, so I'm contributing to citizen science. I also try to use as little plastic as possible, and reuse where I can. I'm not using pesticides in my garden and do buy some organic foods. What could I do better? For sure I could buy more organic food and eat less meat, which would likely mean less forestland turned into pasture. I could use even less plastic than I do today. I could turn my garden into a place more welcoming for birds. I could look for coffee that is shade grown. One thing not mentioned in the list of actions to help birds is getting involved in a local organization with an aim to protecting or even expanding wilderness areas for animals. Activity 3: I've always been interested in nature around me, but I have to say I've never paid close enough attention to observe changes in bird populations in my vicinity. I've also moved around over the course of my life, so I haven't had the opportunity to observe the same place for the whole of my life. Activity 4: I'm pretty much brand new to birding, so there are so many things that I want to do 'next'! The pandemic has made it impossible to travel, even to nearby regions. When that factor disappears, I'm looking forward to exploring new regions and habitats to find new birds and to spend more time in wilderness-heavy zones. I haven't yet had the chance to go birding with anyone aside from my immediate family, all of whom are even newer to this than me. So I'm looking forward to getting out with more experienced birders sometime soon to learn from them. And I'm looking forward to taking my kids on some organized activities with birds -- I've found one nighttime owl session near our place that I'm excited about! So many things to explore.
    • Karen
      Participant
      Chirps: 8
      kbarlow
      I moved to my current home, on a farm in Virginia, 24 years ago.  Every evening, Spring through Summer, Bobwhite Quail could be heard.  We would occasionally see flocks of Quail in the pasture and fields, or in the orchard.  Over time, the numbers of quail declined and I haven’t heard or seen one in the past 3 years.  In 2011, I was noticing the declining numbers of quail and attributed it to the rising number of coyotes in the county.  I ordered and released 2 dozen quail on our farm hoping to see the population recover.  We planted Lespedeza, blackberries,  and Purple Hairy Vetch along our hedgerows to encourage the quail to live on the farm. Sadly, the sightings of quail continued to decline and I have not seen or heard any for the past 3 years. On the other hand, 24 years ago it was rare to see a Wild Turkey on the farm and today we have a very large flock of turkeys that roam the farm.  I often see more than 2 dozen turkeys in the back pasture.  They are also often seen foraging in the hedgerows around our fields.
    • Manyu
      Participant
      Chirps: 42
      SManyu
      Activity 4 - I will explore different habitats, this course has motivated me to do so. Will also study migratory birds in Bharatpur bird sanctuary this year. This course will add a lot to my hobby. Actually this course will help me to take my interest beyond hobby.
    • Manyu
      Participant
      Chirps: 42
      SManyu
      Activity 3 - I think I have observed population of house sparrows go down drastically during my lifetime. Also , in my village when was 10 there were many vultures, now one rarely sees them. Though I am also noticing the House sparrows are bouncing back :) .
    • Manyu
      Participant
      Chirps: 42
      SManyu
      Activity 2- Seven simple actions : - More tress, increase wild lands, no kite flying, setting up clay water pots, less carbon footprints, avoid pesticides and fertilizers and promote bird friendly bird watching. Will do these more aggressively : -Setting up of clay water pots, less carbon footprints, plant trees. What else can I think of ?  - I think Indian schools must take children to bird sanctuaries.
    • Manyu
      Participant
      Chirps: 42
      SManyu
      Activity 1 - They matter to me because they are not things for me. They are like kids playing in the ground and I feel happy watching them. Yes, they are important for ecosystem but I love them unconditionally. As the name of the course goes they are actually a bundle of joy, they are nature at your doorstep even in the urban setup. Thank god the population of house sparrows is bouncing back was feeling so empty without them.
    • Barbara
      Participant
      Chirps: 1
      violet adelaide
      Yes, I’ve noticed changes in bird populations over my lifetime of sixty years. I’ve been fortunate to live most of my life in southwestern Ontario, near Georgian Bay, part of the Great Lakes.  As a child, I remember asking my Dad how common bluebirds were when he was a boy. “ Oh, it was nothing to see bluebirds,” he replied. “They weren’t as common as robins, but you didn’t think anything about seeing a  bluebird.” I was at the end of my twenties when I saw my first bluebirds, and I recall it vividly. Building nesting boxes helped bring back bluebirds. Bald eagles and turkey vultures were unknown in this area decades ago, now they’re quite common. I remember the call of whip-poor-wills as a child, but seldom have I heard them since. We didn’t have cardinals around our place growing up, but they’re common in this area now, and I often seen them at our feeders. I suspect a pair have a nest near the front of our house. Meadow larks and bobolinks can certainly be found, but they’re not as common as they used to be. Farmers are keen to get their hay off in June instead of July, and many nests don’t get the time needed to fledge. And, there’s certainly less insect life than there was fifty years ago. I remember sniffing apple blossoms years ago- the tree would be alive with buzzing, flying insects. You had to be careful not to sniff a bee! Now, the wild apple tree behind the house will only have a few insects visiting on a sunny day. Great egrets nest around here now; they are a fairly recent summer resident. I miss the intense birdsong that used to happen on early spring mornings. Oh sure, it’s still there, and I realize my hearing isn’t as acute as it used to be, but I believe there are fewer birds now. So, all in all, I’ve noticed many changes in our local bird life over the years. Still, this time of year brings great joy as migrating birds return. I’ve noted 25 species of birds in my backyard this spring and I’m anticipating the pleasure of seeing rose-breasted grosbeaks, Baltimore orioles, indigo buntings and hummingbirds. It never grows old!
    • Marty
      Participant
      Chirps: 3
      wavebird
      Since the pandemic started our bird watching has become front and center. We added a bird bath, got rid of some grass in our lawn and planted native wild flowers and hope to plant a birch tree in the fall. We have noticed more birds in our backyard and on one of our walks, we saw a bald eagle. Gold finches love to feed on our cone flowers in the fall, late summer. This course started us on a new journey. Thanks, Cornell lab of  Ornithology.
    • Carol
      Participant
      Chirps: 1
      shieldsc
      I have been birding in East and Central Texas for about 20 years. In that time, I have noticed the expansion of the range of two birds in particular: the White-winged Dove and the Caracara. We now see them much more often and much farther north than we used to.
    • Paula
      Participant
      Chirps: 19
      Pklazrus
      Birds are beautiful and I love their colors and song. I was never specifically interested in bird watching as I've always focused more on flowers and plants, but a trip to Costa Rica with people where were birders opened my eyes to the fun of finding birds while out in nature and there were so many beautiful birds. Although it was almost 2 years ago now, it inspired me to take this class and I've learned a lot and enjoyed it. I do most of the things on list, except perhaps seeking out shade grown coffee. Will have to work on that. Bird populations have changed a lot near me.  Both in NYC and in NJ.  Falcons have come back to NYC, and two pairs of Red Tailed Hawks nest and live on the campus where I teach in Queens.  By me in NJ, I've seen an increase in hawks, wild turkeys (that now saunter down the street sometimes), but also the loss of many birds during the period they were trying to restore the NJ Meadowlands.  Before the restoration they will full of wading birds and red wing blackbirds, then the dug the place us and the catails and grasses vanished and for years there were almost no birds at all. Now more than a decade later red wing blackbirds are back and the other birds are returning as well. I hope to get better using binoculars, to go out for regular walks and look for birds and hopefully get better at spotting them, identifying them and photographing them. This has been great.
    • Marilyn
      Participant
      Chirps: 1
      Msmoorman55
      I have always enjoyed watching birds and would love to fly and see what a bird sees while flying. I have personally seen the increase in bald eagles up in my mountain area in the last ten years.  The bald eagle is such a magnificent bird and so glad that it is not on the endangered species list anymore.  Also see ospreys nesting in the Lake Granby, CO area more and more and competing for food along side with the bald eagle!  This course has increased my awareness of the importance of birds and their impact on our ecosystems and I will do my part in protecting our birds locally and globally. Since taking the free E-birding course,  I started birding and completing watch checklists when we watch birds from our feeder and along the Fraser River Trail.  This course has made me more aware of birds and their needs to survive and especially their habitat.  The habitat in Winter Park, CO is limited to mostly forest and ponds, but I can travel  30 min to lakes and open areas after to the Stay at Home order is lifted to do some birding and see more birds.  The websites suggested in this course have been extremely helpful in my birding education and exploration of other birding groups in my area. Since Winter Park, CO is a very small mountain community,  I have no birding groups to joi in my area, but can travel to Denver and Evergreen groups if I care to later this year.  I love nature and hiking trails locally, but now I can take my binoculars and bird watch while hiking my favorite trails!  I can also do birding wherever I travel hopefully later this summer!  Thanks so much for creating this course for all birding beginners.      
    • Rosemary
      Participant
      Chirps: 7
      stagero
      This course has reinforced the importance of birds to me not only are they beautiful and fun to watch they serve a purpose in helping preserve our natural resources.   I have begun planting bird friendly plants but they must be deer resistant plants.  I also recycle plastic, aluminum cans, paper/cardboard whatever I can.   I have noticed the resurgence in raptors in my lifetime and decline in small song birds and ravens and crows.   As a child I never saw Canada Geese and now they are all over the place.  Watching birds help me relax and destress I have a bird bath for them and what fun they are to watch!  I can't wait for a little warmer weather to head off to the Cuyahoga Valley National Park and set up my new scope up to do some birdwatching.
    • Katie
      Participant
      Chirps: 8
      karboga3
      Activity 1: I've always appreciated birds. Then I owned some parakeets for 10 years and when I decided to give up having birds in my apartment, I set up some feeders. Now I'm enjoying honing my bird skills.   Activity 2: I have been working on most of the 7 ways to help birds so that is encouraging and I will continue to do so. I also support some strong, certified environmental charities. I can't think of some better organizations than Earth Justice (https://earthjustice.org), Natural Resources Defense Council (https://www.nrdc.org) and the Sierra Club.   Activity 4: I want to continue to work on IDing bird song and IDing birds from sight. It truly is amazing to me how many colourful and beautiful birds live in the Midwest.
    • Deanne
      Participant
      Chirps: 10
      14deenray
      IMG_20190517_085929806Activity 1: Birds matter to me, as my interest began when i was a little girl and would help my Grandfather feed the birds at his feeder. I am over 50, lived in Wisconsin my entire life, and until 3 summers ago never saw a Grosbeak in my life. I am using the same bird feeder, as "home made" as it looks, actually is. My Grandfather made it for my mom when i was little, and I've had it now several years. My interest is growing year by year, with more interest in migratory birds, the raptors, and my favorite Pileated Woodpecker Activity 2: We don't use pesticides, we try not to disturb any of the natural habitat around our home, we try to raise awareness when company comes to visit we point out some of the unique birds at the time, we keep mindful of recycling, we pick up trash people throw by the road, along with many other things. Activity 3: I've noticed a lower number of Sparrows. I remember in the 1970's seeing tons of them all over all the time, now i rarely see any. Activity 4: A project i am considering is putting together a book. I am disabled and spend a good part of my day in a chair watching the bird feeder out the window. As i see the seasons change, i see the birds change. First the Sand Cranes come back, then finches come back, then the humming birds, and the Grosbeaks. The variety at the feeder is astounding to me, as i write this there's a Yellow Bellied Sap Sucker, American Goldfinch, Purple Finch, Chickadee and a Brown headed Cow Bird at my feeder! Such an abundance! Thank you so much for your course, i really learned a lot!
      • Katie
        Participant
        Chirps: 8
        karboga3
        I agree about the variety of birds you see once you start paying attention! They aren't all just some brown birds.
    • Vicki
      Participant
      Chirps: 4
      VickiBlake
      We've just set up a bird feeder in Eastern Massachusetts, in the last two months. How long do we stock it? At some point is there enough local plant and insect food available? When to start back?
    • Mark
      Participant
      Chirps: 10
      hallmarkf
      I’m in my early 50s and only live about 20 miles from where I grew up, but I never see the kinds of bird flocks that I used to see in the area. I don’t know what kind of birds they were back then, or whether they’ve just moved elsewhere because of the relentless suburban development in northern Virginia, but the few flocks I see nowadays (during migration, particularly in the fall) pale in comparison.
    • Donna
      Participant
      Chirps: 11
      DonnaSouthard
      Good Morning!  I had a quick question.  I noticed that when I put food out for the wild birds in my backyard that the Blue Jays have mimicked the sound of a red tailed hawk.  It is a shorter sound than the hawks, but it seems to scare the smaller birds away.  This is the first year that I ever noticed Blue Jays making this type of sound.  Is this common?
      • Emily
        Participant
        Chirps: 5
        ericharson1227
        Hey, Donna! I live in the Pacific Northwest, and our Steller's Jays do this, too.
      • Lee Ann van Leer
        Bird Academy
        LilacRoller
        Yes. Blue Jays commonly mimic calls of various species of hawk calls.
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