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

    • Emely
      Participant
      Chirps: 2
      Birds give me a sense of joy, whether flitting outside my window, swinging from branch to branch or getting lost in my living room. But I’ve only regarded them collectively as avian class. These lessons introduced me to their diversity, the uniqueness of each species, and engaged me into not just being fascinated by their beauty and songs, but into realizing how important they are to sustaining the earth’s ecosystem. Although I may not have so much time to commit to saving them now, I will take every opportunity I can. For a start, I bought caged birds peddled as toys for kids, and freed them. E0045802-7AAB-4C74-91AB-ABE3E1C0E108
      • Esteban
        Participant
        Chirps: 170
        Hi Emely, your idea is good but the way of doing it is not very good.  If you buy caged birds you will be in a way encouraging the illegal traffic of animals, and the ones who do it.
    • Birds matter because they are life. All of this creation needs one another. Our planet works in a beautiful yet fragile symbiosis. Harm one and it ripples out from there. Birds are beautiful and birdsong is a lovely way to start the day. I live in southeastern Canada and as the ground awakens from its winter slumber, the skies and trees come alive with the sights and sounds of a diversity of our birds 'coming home'! Birds don't have an easy life. It is about survival and if I can do anything to make their lives easier - safer, I am all for it! We need to care for our world if we want it to last. This year I am making a wildlife friendly garden using native plants and NO pesticides. I have learned so much from the few courses I have taken and look forward to many more. Happy birding everyone and thank you so much Cornell Lab and your Bird Academy.
    • Loyal
      Participant
      Chirps: 4
      Our cat enjoys watching birds in the bird bath from the comfort and safety of her chair. She’s always been and indoor cat. Additionally, we had been redoing our backyard with a concentration on native plants.
    • Liz
      Participant
      Chirps: 14
      I am trying to let others know how many song birds cats kill and encourage them to keep their cats indoors. My cat happily watches the birds at the feeders from many windows.   I have always been a little OCD about recycling. LO.   I am encouraging others to buy only shade grown coffee.   I love to participate in the 2 of the annual bird counting days.   I write letters to the editor of a few local papers, pleading hunters to not participate in the duck hunting season. I see the beautiful ducks returning every spring in the river I live on.  But the rest of the year the ducks are elusive. Even though I take many  canoe camping trips into Algonquin Park's wilderness and travel many lakes I rarely see any ducks. Where have they all gone? I am concerned. Why would anyone want to kill such a small and beautiful creature?
    • Liz
      Participant
      Chirps: 14
      Birds are so beautiful and unique. I have learned so much in these courses and in my observations. They all have such unique characteristics and mannerisms. I get my camera all focused to snap a picture of the rarely seen ring neck ducks and then all I get is a picture of ripples as they all dive down in unison. Watching the wood duck is humorous as it looks like the couple is saying, "Lets go this way, no wait, lets go that way, or maybe another way?"wood duck
    • Liz
      Participant
      Chirps: 14
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    • Clif
      Participant
      Chirps: 4
      Question:  Why do birds matter to me?  Beauty, primarily.  I get a certain joy out of seeing an animal that is so perfect in design.  And the more I learn about birds, the more I understand those perfections.   They have adapted to every variation in environment in every conceivable (and inconceivable) way.  Their coloration is gorgeous, even the ubiquitous little brown sparrows are gorgeous when you get close, and the grackle's iridescence almost makes up for its crowding of the airspace and obnoxious noise.  No designer could ever come up with a color scheme of the wood duck, and no artist could ever create the glow of those colors.   Their diversity also stuns me.   Great blue herons and hummingbirds?  Each bird has evolved to fit its ecological niche.   I wish humans could evolve to suit the environment as opposed to crafting the environment to suit them.   We have a lot to learn from birds.
    • Susan
      Participant
      Chirps: 7
      My husband was the one member of the family most interested in watching birds. Over time, his interests have spread to other members of the family. What drew me in was the bluebirds who have been nesting in our yard since 2018. I started planting more native plants, beginning with milkweed for the butterflies, then spicebush for the swallowtails, and native berries for the birds (and some for the humans too). This past year saw a dramatic increase in bird feeders, nest boxes, and native plants, which have been my salvation during this pandemic. My yard has never been more full of life, more interesting, or more beautiful. I am hooked! Below is a juvenile Red Tailed Hawk. IE308EAE3-E29B-483A-B1FC-164EACDBB854
    • Esteban
      Participant
      Chirps: 170
      What a wonderful course! When I go to the park I notice birds easily. Of course, others I need to practice. Many people do not notice birds but this course helped me and my family notice birds more. I do not have cats but however I will try to make all 7 actions. I do not have noticed much bird populations change.  But I think I have now noticed since 2014 the Andean condor population change. I hope it rises. Now I am interested in field sketching, also I know am submerged in ornithology, and even know two bird names. The Setophaga Ruticilla (American Redstart) and the (Athene Cunicularia) burrowing owl. I REALLY ENJOYED THIS COURSE.
    • Erin
      Participant
      Chirps: 5
      Thank you for this course! This was my first foray into more serious birdwatching and I've learned so much. I've always enjoyed watching birds and hearing their songs and sounds but now that I'm doing so more actively and actually able to identify who I am hearing or seeing it's made my world all that much more fun and enriching. I intend to further my knowledge of these truly awesome and fascinating animals, thank you for providing a spark!
      • Karrin
        Participant
        Chirps: 47
        I feel the same! My family teases me because now I have to stop and look around every time I hear a bird. :-)
      • Esteban
        Participant
        Chirps: 170

        @Karrin Yes, I now walk by the street looking mostly up.  My family tells me to look down and pay attention on te street.

    • Elizabeth
      Participant
      Chirps: 7
      When I learned about shade grown coffee being better for birds, I asked for bird friendly coffee for christmas and my husband gifted me some DELICIOUS dark roast from Birds and Beans. It is even tastier when I remember each morning that the birds can enjoy the habitat from which it came. I will definitely be buying more!
    • Kristine C
      Participant
      Chirps: 1
      I really enjoyed the class and it has got me noticing and enjoying nature more. My partner and I built two screech owl houses a few weeks ago and put up some bird feeders. Today I noticed some black capped chickadees were very excited and flying around like crazy. I watched them with my (newly purchased) binoculars and saw that they were checking out the screech owl house, one at a time would perch at the 3 inch hole and peer inside. This lasted for about 5 minutes before (I think) they realized it wasn’t suitable, but it was amazing to watch. It made me realize that we should build chickadee houses next. So tonight I ordered some lumber and this will be our weekend project. I didn’t think chickadees would find a mate and look for a next at this time of year, March 2nd in Ontario. A few weeks ago I heard a chickadee mating call, so I guess it’s happening. I now wonder if I’m setting up the chickadees to be food for the screech owls in my area...not sure about this. I might end up removing the screech owl house since it’s still unoccupied, or maybe the squirrels will move in. Last weekend I noticed my first Northern Flicker and Red Breasted Nuthatch on a hike, and today I saw a Red Breasted Nuthatch in my back yard. That was pretty cool. I never would have noticed these things before taking this course. I’m going to build birdhouses and give them to my friends to help the bird population in my area. It’s very cheap and easy to make these. I’m also looking forward to adding more native bushes and flowers to my garden this summer. It’s the start of a lifelong passion and so much fun :)
    • Kenny
      Participant
      Chirps: 1
      This was a great class to take that my wife got for me and looking forward to the next one.  I really enjoyed the resources that linked to your zip code on the best plants and trees for birds and wildlife.  She bought me a camera and I had no idea how hard it was to take pictures of birds.  I am still learning and it is a work in progress.  I learned a great deal and hope to make our property a better habitat for birds and other wildlife. Thanks again for a great class.
    • I am an Environmental Scientist working with Service Members on Joint Base Lewis-McChord in Washington.  When I conduct my Environmental Trainings I often speak about the first Earth Day and the events, such as Silent Spring, Santa Barbara, and Cleveland, Ohio that lead up to it.  I also speak to the establishment of the EPA and all of the events such as Love Canal, New York, Bullitt County, Kentucky, and Times Beach, Missouri that resulted in many of the Environmental Regulations which are in place today.  The problem that we are facing now, however, is that many of these laws have been so effective that we now have a generation of Americans that have never experienced the kind of environmental degradation which was seen before 1970.  Because of this lack in experience, people are beginning to question the need for these laws and regulations and the environment is already starting to see the impacts related to this lack of knowledge. I especially enjoyed the final part of the course where it addressed climate change and habitat destruction.  JBLM is home to the Streaked Horned Lark, and many other species, because we are one of the last unfractured prairie ecosystems left in the South Puget Sound region.  I plan to incorporate some of what I learned during this course in an effort to reemphasize the importance that these birds have on environmental health.   Thank you.
    • Jane
      Participant
      Chirps: 16
      I've been a casual birdwatcher for years. This course and the Nature Journaling course have heightened my interest in paying attention to the variety and seasonality of the birds in our area. I'd like to get better at identifying birds by their calls, because sometimes I am too rushed to take time to find it or don't have binoculars with me but am curious if it's a bird call I don't recognize. Will finish that course, which I'd started some time ago.
    • Clark
      Participant
      Chirps: 2
      This course has been wonderful. The stats on declining bird populations is very distressing but I believe it!  I have logged 57 different birds at our cabin over the last 35 years but certain sightings have diminished significantly.  We are doing everything that we can to save the birds.
    • Qin
      Participant
      Chirps: 2
      Since October 2020, I have become an active bird watcher. For one, birdwatching during the pandemic lockdown makes life more interesting and less stressful.  Also. There is so much to learn about birds, their   I live in a suburban city of Texas where the weather is mild all year round (except this week).  I equipped myself with a Nikon Coolpix P950 camera and a 12x55 monocular attached to my phone, and I am able to take photos and videos easily.  By using Merlin Bird ID app to identify birds I have registered 26 LifeLists.  One of them is a Summer Tanager, who visits our backyard feeder almost every day this winter, becoming one of our resident birds. You can see from the photo below that his feather on the right wing sticking out, so we call him Defecto.  My husband and I have been working hard to make our backyard a bird sanctuary with feeders, birdhouses, native plants and wild flowers.
    • Qin
      Participant
      Chirps: 2
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    • Anonymous
      Participant
      Chirps: 2
      Birds matter to me because I think there's nothing more delightful than hearing their early morning chirping to let me know that a new day has begun.  It shocks me that there are a lot of people who find their morning vocalizations annoying.  I can't help wonder if this is a sign of how greatly modern society is becoming divorced from nature. Before this course, identification of a birds' species wasn't a priority for me.  I just took them for being part of nature as a whole.  However, it has been fun to learn more about the unique habits, habitats and behaviours of individual species.
    • Denise
      Participant
      Chirps: 3
      I live in Vancouver, B.C. and I've been fortunate enough to live in the same house for over 40 years, and have noticed differences in bird populations in that time, mostly, I think, because of environmental changes.   At first there were lots of Steller jays and barn swallows.   We had a large cedar hedge that the jays loved and the yards around us are fairly large, grassy and no fences.   The swallows swooped all over this "meadow".   As time went on houses sold, fences were put up, lots were complete covered with houses and cement.  We had to cut down our cedar hedge and replace it.  The swallows haven't been around for a while.  The jays moved elsewhere.   Sometimes I could hear them, but they were down the street a ways.   The cedar hedge has grown, the jays have returned.  I have seen a swallow or two but they don't seem to stay.   Flickers, crows, chickadees, and sparrows are the main birds.    Oh, and hummingbirds.   We, along with our neighbours, have put up feeders and grown plants they like in our gardens and we now have resident Anna's and transient rufus hummingbirds.
    • Lisa
      Participant
      Chirps: 2
      I am working to plant more native species, plant wildflowers and grasses as part of my lawn, and reduce overall mowed lawn areas.  I've joined a local bird watching club and participated in my first Christmas Bird Count in 2020. I continue to participate in other annual citizen science events like the Great Backyard Bird Count and FeederWatch. I'm currently promoting more natural areas in common areas in my community--i.e., allowing some grassy areas to grow rather than mowing everything as if it were a golf course.
    • Nina
      Participant
      Chirps: 3
      Good experience thanks
    • Nina
      Participant
      Chirps: 3
      Growing native plants
    • Nina
      Participant
      Chirps: 3
      Leading a local nature org
    • I've planted native plants the last several years to attract butterflies and plan on expanding the garden this spring with plants that also attract birds.  I recently started purchasing coffee that is bird friendly (Birds and Beans).  It's delicious and it's nice to know I'm helping preserve the environment, for birds and other creatures!