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

    • Mary
      Participant
      Chirps: 12
      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
      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
      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
      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: 45
        What a beautiful picture of this bluebird.  Thanks for sharing!  Cathy
    • Kimberly
      Participant
      Chirps: 9
      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
      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
      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
      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
      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
      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
      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
      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: 6
      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
      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
      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
      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
      I enjoyed learning about and trying other features of the eBird program.
    • 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
      Another excellent Bird Academy course.
    • Jennifer
      Participant
      Chirps: 8
      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
      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
      Bought my first Duck Stamp recently.  Pretty easy way to support bird habitats.  Looking for some shade grown coffee next.
    • Louisa
      Participant
      Chirps: 10
      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: 8
      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
      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.