The Cornell Lab Bird Academy Discussion Groups Joy of Birdwatching Activities: Keeping Track of Your Birdwatching

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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.
      You must be enrolled in the course to reply to this topic.
    • Juli
      Participant
      Chirps: 13
      Juli1321
      Activity 2: I am in multiple birding groups centered around sharing rare bird sightings in my area. I also am signed up for rare bird alerts in my county and surrounding counties. I love to try and go see a rare bird that I hear about. Often because of my job I am not able to make it in as timely a manner is needed to really take advantage but I have several times seen birds because of the alerts, as well as, contributed to them myself.
    • Juli
      Participant
      Chirps: 13
      Juli1321
      Activity 1: In the past I kept a birding journal. There was a lot of good information in my old journal. I documented the time, date, temperature, and general weather observations at the start of each entry. Then I documented all the birds I saw, what they were doing, and any unusual behaviors. I find that my own notes serve as a great source for knowing what birds to expect to see in my own yard at any given time of year. Because of this assignment I decided to give field notes a better try, as far as really looking for descriptors and field marks. I found that even if I looked at a bird I know well (or maybe especially a bird I know well) that I noticed more about it's coloration and markings when thinking about if I were to draw it. I think drawing pics of the birds is probably out for me. I did try and draw a picture of a female Northern Cardinal that had lost her tail that was at my feeder. It really ended up looking like a rubber ducky not a Northern Cardinal. LOL. I think the notes and concept are very helpful but art takes too much focus on the art itself and is not something I can just do in the field. I have never been organized and really kept a list of all the birds I have seen. At various times I have checked off various checklists but not been organized about it and do not even know where many of them are anymore. Since being introduced to ebird I use it every day. I really love that it keeps track of what I have seen and where. I also got a camera for my birthday (August 13, 2020) and I have been working on my bird photography skills. I try to take pictures every day. Some turn out really good and others not so good. I love adding the pictures to my ebird lists. I find that it is a great way to document what I have seen. I like many others have mentioned with this assignment, use my photos to get my ids correct. This is really helpful for many of the shorebirds. I upload ones that I am not confident in to Merlin and can usually get some clarification. I also am a member of multiple Facebook groups that are for bird id. I have used them several times to get opinions on birds that were difficult.
    • Lesley
      Participant
      Chirps: 7
      LNinNanaimo
      Activity 1: The first observation in my Roger Tory Peterson, "A Field Guide to Western Birds," dates back to 1982, although I had been watching birds long before that date. Since then, my notes over the years, in Peterson as well as in my other favourite, Nat Geo's "Field Guide to the Birds of North America", are pretty messy (see photos!) with no bird ID strategies mentioned, except for the 1987 insert shown here when I saw a Mandarin Duck swimming in Lost Lagoon in Vancouver, BC's Stanley Park. This stunningly beautiful duck is native to Asia, but occasionally seen on ponds around the west coast of BC -- apparently there was one spotted in Burnaby, BC this year. The side column in my Nat Geo guide (second photo) lists all the birds that came to my backyard feeders during March, April and May 2020 COVID-19 shutdowns. They added so much joy to the proceedings!  Since beginning this course, though, I have thought about getting my life list in order to see how extensive it is. Activity 2: I am subscribed to rare bird alert emails on ebird, which does pique my interest from time to time. Sometimes, I wonder, "Really? Could that be true?" when someone cites a bird that seems rare indeed to be seen in our area. Then, I remember the Mandarin Duck. IMG_4794IMG_4795
    • Devin
      Participant
      Chirps: 10
      Devin66
      Activity 2: I signed up for rare bird alerts on eBird.
    • Devin
      Participant
      Chirps: 10
      Devin66
      Activity 1: I use eBird to record my birding observations. On one of my checklists, I saw a bird that was listed as being rare for my location and date (White-breasted Nuthatch). eBird required me to record comments about my observation of this bird. I just put something simple down, like I saw it climbing a tree. Later, I received an email from a regional volunteer asking for further detail about the observation. I went back in to eBird and documented a more thorough description of the bird's behavior, habitat, and field markings. I can see how the more detailed the field notes are, the more reliance can be placed on the observation (especially when coming from a novice like me). I've also started bringing a camera with me when birding to try and get some photos of birds. The birds don't always stay still long enough for me to get a photo, but I have succeeded in snapping a few pictures of American Robins and Black-capped Chickadees.
    • Luke
      Participant
      Chirps: 13
      Lukins
      E39FBD87-2BE5-40FF-B8F1-AF8F52CAED0DMy oldest bird notes were written in my field guide ; when and where I saw the bird as seen on the right side of the photo. Later I began making lists of all the birds I saw, the date and where I was birding as seen on in the notebook on the right.6CDD6A60-BF2E-4DE0-87CE-B5BDB34C10C3When I began using E-bird I started recording bird counts, start and end times and some notes in addition to the date and location. Most of the places I bird have no cell phone signal so I still record everything in my notebook using a kind of shorthand. I use abbreviations for a lot of the common birds(WBNH- White Breasted Nuthatch, TTM- Tufted Titmouse etc) as well as my usual locations. I also use tick marks for the counts. This makes it easy to add more birds of the same species as I see them.
    • Allison
      Participant
      Chirps: 7
      AKirchner1979
      Our local birding club is apparently not meeting at present due to coronavirus restrictions.  As I beginner, I could really use some mentoring.  I'm having a hard time with the logistics of birdwatching.  I have terrible vision, wear glasses, and only have an inexpensive pair of binoculars at this point (7X).  It is a bit awkward using the binoculars with my glasses on, and if I try to take them off, it is just one more thing to handle and fumble.  I tend to locate the birds without binoculars, but when I switch to binoculars, it is hard to find the same location on the tree.  By the time I find the right spot, the bird has often flown away.  I'll also need to experiment with different times of day, different levels of sunshine, different angles.  Even when I can focus on a bird, it is often backlit, making it hard to see any colors and markings.  I also find the position (standing, looking up) to be uncomfortable (hurts my neck).  My only camera is my cell phone, and I can barely get photos of our feeder birds let alone birds in treetops.  I have a small notebook that I've used for field notes, mostly around our yard.  I've found it helpful to write down my best interpretation of the vocalizations that I hear.  I walked around a park today, heard at least 7 or 8 different birds but couldn't see any of them.  It's frustrating, but I'm still having fun!  I'm sorry if this post sounds like I'm complaining.  My awkward attempts so far are truly a comedy of errors.  I do feel connected to the community through our local Wild Birds Unlimited store which offers expertise along with occasional presentations, and I really enjoy the WBU Backyard Birds Photos on FaceBook.  I am pretty good at identifying feeder birds.  I received my Project Feederwatch package earlier this week, and I look forward to participating for the first time.  I'm also using eBird to look at lists submitted by local birders.
    • Yulia
      Participant
      Chirps: 8
      Koreshok
      Activity 1: I take a lot of pictures and videos during my field trips. Then I analyze them calmly at home. I feel really overwhelmed with information and excitement and most likely miss on a lot of details during my bird watching. Pictures help to identify birds with the help of books and Merlin ID app. Songs captured in videos help to figure out birds that I couldn’t see or photograph. Activity 2: I joined a Facebook group and keep my eye open on any planned activity in the world of bird watching in our city. Last year I was lucky to meet authors of my 2 bird books. Talking to them was very inspiring!
    • Mark
      Participant
      Chirps: 8
      markraby
      Activity 1: I pulled over near a swamp and spent 10-15 minutes in the field viewing birds and taking notes. I spotted a redwing blackbird and observed what appeared to be territorial behaviour. Field notes were helpful in reminding me what I saw. Activity 2: I'd like to start a group called the Thousand Islands Birdwatchers Association. Does anyone have any advice for starting a birding group? My vision is a remote group on FB for the time being to limit in-person gathering.
    • Jon
      Participant
      Chirps: 5
      jonblum
      Since I am new to birding, I seldom know what kind of bird I am seeing, so here is what I do.  I take photos of the bird with my real camera (not a phone camera) because I have a 30x optical zoom so I can get a close-up photo of a far-away bird.  When I get home, I copy the photo to my computer and enlarge it for a better view.  Then I use Merlin Bird ID to figure out what the bird is.  Then I add it to my list of birds I have seen, which I keep in an Excel spreadsheet.  A couple days ago I had my best birding day ever, as I saw two kinds of herons on the same day.  Here are my photos of the green heron and the great blue heron. GreenHeron081820_2908GreatBlueHeron081820_2931
      • Mary
        Participant
        Chirps: 12
        tortorello
        Agree -  it is a good idea to use a camera with a better quality lens than what the cell phone has. I will have to rediscover my camera, haven't used it in years! Nice pix of the herons!
      • Cynthia
        Participant
        Chirps: 16
        Cynthia_Case
        I use my camera the same way, and it’s helping me to learn and identify new species.  I shoot at just about anything that moves if I can’t easily determine the species, and I’m up to 161 species in my area so far.  It is embarrassing when a seasoned birder asks what I’m looking at or for—essentially I’m looking for anything I haven’t seen yet! I also keep a journal where I list where I’ve been and what I’ve seen and attempt to draw pictures of the new birds. I also submit my finding and photos to Ebird.  They have kindly, and sometimes not so kindly, corrected me when I have blown an ID, but that’s how I learn.  Really?  That rare Brown Booby I thought I had seen was actually a standard issue hatch year Brown Pelican?  Shucks! But now I know.B5FE68D4-5EDD-469D-A5F5-BD50EBF19A35
    • Mary
      Participant
      Chirps: 12
      tortorello
      I attended my first bird walk this week at a local forest preserve. I intended not so much to record the birds I saw, but just to learn how to explore, sight, and identify them from more experienced birders. With only 3 participants plus the guide, our small group helped each other with locating the birds from their sounds. The guide was great at identifying from sound, and we were able to locate and identify various species. After I made my sightings, the best I could do was just to jot down the names on paper.  I then later examined them more carefully with Merlin, and I made my first submissions to eBird. I'll have to develop the field note taking skills with more practice.  The following day I saw two magnificent white birds flying together, and with the help of Merlin, identified them as egrets and submitted them to eBird.  This is all so new to me, and I am in awe of the power of birding communities to document bird activities globally.
    • Lisa
      Participant
      Chirps: 15
      lisabj
      Making field notes will be a new and fun addition to birdwatching. I have just the notebook for it. It has often taken several separate viewings to feel an identification is correct. This is a better than relying on memory. I subscribed to the eBird rare bird alert. Our local Audubon group is a great resource as well that is new to me.
    • Cathy
      Participant
      Chirps: 37
      cgtv123
      Activity 1:  Field notes.  Since I am not a good artist, I might cheat a little here.  About a year or so ago I purchased a bird coloring book.  Perhaps upon seeing a unique bird I will color that page and put the notes in that book.  Or I will trace the bird.  I am not sure I have the patience for this,  but I will try it out. I tried to download ebird but it's not seeming to port over my previous recorded bird-sightings.  I will need to look into this.  Hopefully I won't just give up.
    • Ken
      Participant
      Chirps: 4
      Kbaldauff
      Activity 2: joined the Hamilton County (IN) Birds and Nature group on FB a couple months ago. Lots of information on local bird sightings and places to birdwatch.
    • Terry
      Participant
      Chirps: 2
      terrypun
      two pilated woodpeckers_LVMag_DSC_0061one pilated woodpecker_DSC_0089two Pileated Woodpeckers at once - what a day!!!
      • Cynthia
        Participant
        Chirps: 16
        Cynthia_Case
        Nice captures!
      • Ann
        Participant
        Chirps: 16
        BCHeritage
        thanks for a great picture
    • rita
      Participant
      Chirps: 15
      rlaurance
      Activity#1 I watched  the California Osprey bird cam. There as a bird in the nest that was calling constantly- what a beautiful bird! A huge yellow eye with a dark ring around it, an extremely hook, curved beak that looks silvery and has a border around its base, the head looks almost square due to a beautiful ruff of feathers at the back, and there are tons of brown face marking. The outside of the body is predominantly brown, a deep brown, but the head and breast and u under the wings and rump are white with some brown markings, sometimes speckles. It can turn its head completely around- it has a call that is a series of repeated notes. The chest and front of body are fluffy feathers- the flight feathers are dark brown with white outlines, so each feather can be seen distinctly.There's a brown band that goes from the front of the head through the ey to the back of the head and gets wider as it goes and a third similar band on the top of the head, which is otherwise white. There is some yellow in the white at the back of the head, which has this squares looking ruff. The feet and legs are white. The nest is overlooking the San Francisco Bay  (I think), and you can hear other ospreys calling.
    • Kathleen
      Participant
      Chirps: 12
      nielsenearl
      Keeping Track of Your Birdwatching Activity 1: Spend some time practicing taking field notes while observing birds. Try structuring your notes using the bird ID strategies you learned about in this course. You could use pictures, words, or some combination of them. Are your field notes helpful for you in later identifying the birds you saw? Share your experiences in the discussion. I fudged a little on this one.  I used 30-year old field notes rather than doing new ones.  I wanted to see how my notes helped me [or didn’t help me], and how I could improve the process.  Turns out it was OK, but it could be improved.  My first list was just after moving here. Mon. 12/31/90 Red-shafted flicker (on the ground); Robins (LOTS); Steller’s Jay (chasing squirrels); Slate colored and Oregon juncos; Downey woodpecker (male, eating pork fat); Golden-crowned kinglets (many, male and female). What time was it? How long did I watch?  Where did I watch?  Flicker-what was he doing on the ground-eating? They are usually in/on the trees.  Were there 2 of them? Juncos-Still sorting them out!  Robins-Were they flying, foraging, playing?  Since I wrote jay [not jays] it must have been one-chasing a squirrel. Downey woodpecker-I doubt if he’d share.  GC Kinglets-Hard to count, but I managed to note there were male and female-they weren’t flirting or mating-they were looking for and finding food. I learned a lot from 30-year old notes!  A bit of preparation would be good: Time [start & stop], place. Then there was what they were doing:  Eating, flying, foraging.  Most were eating [time of year]. Name:  I nailed that!  Day of the week, date:  Nailed both!  Weather:  Nice, but not a requsite. Food:  Seeds, tree bugs, earth bugs, small animals, fish, whatever, flying bugs… Habitat:  Never knew flickers spent so much time on the ground!
    • Jill
      Participant
      Chirps: 6
      jmjohnson
      • C3A92FF0-8874-4177-A83B-DBF56261B878
      • Cathy
        Participant
        Chirps: 37
        cgtv123
        Very nice!
    • Karen
      Participant
      Chirps: 2
      KarenBFS
      July 5  We have a Carolina wren nesting in a flowerpot hanging outside our kitchen window. The leaves and flowers were drooping yesterday, so I watered the pot carefully.  Mrs. Wren did not like that one bit. She flew out, sat on a post on the garden fence, and scolded us for several minutes. It's been 2 weeks since the wrens built the nest, so we are waiting to see if any birds hatch.
    • Louisa
      Participant
      Chirps: 8
      lulu1
      Activity 1.  I often photograph birds while out birding.  Sometimes it is to document a rare bird or one I’m not certain of, but mostly to document what I’ve seen where and when and to capture behavior.  Lately I’ve been focusing on trying to photograph birds in flight. Activity 2.  I’ve been using eBird for a number of years now and have signed up for rare bird alerts in Idaho and needs lists for Idaho.  I also participate in Project FeederWatch, Great Backyard Bird Count, the Christmas Bird Count in Southwest Idaho, Golden Eagle Audubon based in Boise, and Southwestern Idaho Birding Association based in Nampa.
    • Hannah
      Participant
      Chirps: 8
      hvelde
      Activity 1: I started a journal of field notes today. I sat on a chair on my back deck and recorded by observations of all of the birds I saw and what behaviours they were engaging in. I am familiar with most of the birds that visit my backyard so the field notes didn’t aid in identification. I think it will be interesting to look back later and see how bird behaviours change throughout the year, and to see the differences in bird species present. Activity 2: I requested to be added to the Hamilton Birding email group.
    • Kara
      Participant
      Chirps: 6
      kfawley
      Since I enrolled in eBird on June 1, I started a ritual in which I record birds for at least 20 min while I drink my coffee in the morning. I'm a bit disappointed because, like another commenter, I missed out on recording all the good sightings I've had since the beginning of PA's lockdown in March - especially the warblers! I wrote down each type of new bird I saw on which day in my "Covid Journal," but not the quantity. Currently, I enjoy seeing which bird has the highest tally of the day - what I call the "Bird of the Day." Today was, surprisingly, an "Oriole Day." Ever since the mulberry tree near my house started fruiting, it's been the local hotspot for all types of birds, but particularly orioles. I signed up for emails from my local Audubon chapter, incidentally in Audubon, PA. I live less than 10 minutes from Mill Grove, Audubon's first home in the US, and I always intended to visit but never have. Once we can participate in gatherings again I cannot wait to go to some of their events!
    • Margaret
      Participant
      Chirps: 13
      pegkahn
      Activity 2. The Washtenaw Audubon Society offers lots of opportunities for bird watching and bird learning to people at all levels of knowledge, skill and physical ability. Washtenaw County is in southeast Michigan and includes the cities of Ann Arbor and Ypsilanti, as well as less developed and natural areas. The Huron River runs through the county. I have been hovering the edges of the chapter and just officially joined. I went on a group walk last Spring, and in-person group events are mainly cancelled for now. However, the group conducted a prothonotary paddle (separate kayaks) recently, and the trip produced wonderful photos and an amazing short video of a prothonotary warbler singing on the tree where it nested. The chapter has been hosting online presentations (with extraordinary photographs) by a long-time member who now lives (at least part of the year) in Central Florida and knows the birds of Central and South Florida. It will host chimney swift count nights August 14, 15, and 16 at dusk. It has been fighting to preserve a chimney that has become a roosting site and migration staging site for swifts; open stack chimneys are attached to old buildings that are now being destroyed (“urban renewal”), and local Audubon has preserved one chimney at risk of destruction.  It organizes bird counts. The chapter maintains close ties to the Natural Areas Preservation unit of the City of Ann Arbor, which does a variety of plant and animal inventories and ecological projects (e.g. turtle stewardship, invasive plant removal), relying heavily on volunteers. And local Audubon pays attention to relevant national policy issues and has supported black birders.
    • Sylvester
      Participant
      Chirps: 6
      Sylvester_Astorilax325
      Hello, I have a question. A few days ago, a female American Robin made her nest on our grape shelf. I was glad that a bird came nesting in our back yard. She was busy making her for the following days. But the day before yesterday, she didn't come making her nest. I wondered why. I thought she was just taking a break. Unfortunately, she didn't come, neither today. I want to know the reason why she didn't come these days... Thank you very much.
      • Sylvester
        Participant
        Chirps: 6
        Sylvester_Astorilax325
        And today she came. Why are they having "breaks"? Also, the female robin is staying in her nest.
      • Kathleen
        Participant
        Chirps: 12
        nielsenearl

        @Sylvester Although bird look like they are building nests, sometimes they "try 2-3 out" at about the same time.  It could be what happened to you.  Take a look around, maybe she chose one close, but not so visible.

    • Catherine
      Participant
      Chirps: 16
      cvanderplaats
      Although I did buy a new bird ID book last week :) I will not get rid of the Roger Tory Peterson book I have apparently had since 1972, which is when I started making my life list--now four houses ago..... but all in the same general area, on the western part of the Island of Montreal. And as Kevin mentioned, many of those on the list are a reminder of the experience of the sighting. One of the ones that stand out is what I think was a Cooper's Hawk sitting on a branch in my front yard, looking right at me as I sat at my home-office desk. And again, but on our crabapple in the backyard a year later, a pair of them!  Another experience I remember is a Northern shrike eating a (still live) bird on my kitchen steps, in December of 1981..... quite gruesome..... And finally, a wonderful memory of a bunch of cedar waxwings in an evergreen, in winter....: looked like a Christmas tree with yellow-coloured decorations!
      • Kathleen
        Participant
        Chirps: 12
        nielsenearl
        I agree with you!  I'm not tossing my RT Peterson either.  We got it about 1966, and we have lots of notes in it...from LP Michigan, to Minnesota, to South Dakota, to New Mexico, to Colorado, to our 30 year home in Bellevue, Washington (and one year in Sweden)!
    • Mary
      Participant
      Chirps: 7
      MDV1952
      I checked on the website of my local birding club to see what activities they offer.   The club offers a monthly field trip in the area but the field trips have been cancelled since March due to Covid-19.   They are currently doing virtual field trips where club members "bird on their own" during a specified period of time.  They compile the checklists into a list of identified species to share what birds have been observed in the area on this "virtual" field trip.   They identified 59 species on their last trip.  I plan to join a field trip when they are offered again.
    • Marlene
      Participant
      Chirps: 17
      mg47831
      Now that May has left us here in NE Wisconsin, there are fewer birds coming to the yard. Some of my favorites are still here like the Cardinals and the Eastern Bluebirds, along with the American goldfinches and Indigo Buntings. But the Baltimore Oriole and the Red Breasted Grosbeak have not been seen for over a week now.  I decided to start a manual birding journal this week. What fun! I'm enjoying putting some of my thoughts down on paper and tracking date and time of my sightings. I even tried jotting a few pictures, although my drawing skills leave much to be desired. Anyway, below is an excerpt from my journal a couple days ago- 6-9-2020. I am also going to set up an  EBird account and use the app to easily track my sightings using my phone. Birding Journal - Copy 20200609_161815[1]
    • Laura
      Participant
      Chirps: 7
      LauraBea
      I wish I had reached this part in the course sooner, as I have been observing birds on my daily walk and could have been noting their numbers in EBird. Going forward I downloaded the app but have yet to enroll in the course that gives the essentials of how to use it. I am in Long Island, NY and regularly see Common Grackles, Mourning Doves and House Sparrows at our backyard feeder, and an occasional Blue Jay. I also see Northern Cardinals, American Robins and Downy Woodpeckers while I am out walking, and on occasion a Baltimore Oriole. I will look for a birding group in which to participate once things open up. For now it has been enjoyable to read other people's comments in this course. It has been a very enjoyable course and I have learned a lot. I have enjoyed sharing what I've learned with others.
    • Sarah
      Participant
      Chirps: 8
      PowellS9
      Activity 1: I made and submitted my first checklist on eBird! I hiked around a local park and added to my list whatever birds I could identify by listening or by sight.  It wasn't very many, and I know I missed a lot of birds from either not recognizing their song/call or if they flew by it was too fast or far away for me to identify that way.  However, I still reported 7 species (including 2 bald eagles sitting in trees by the river!), which is more than I would have realized if I had just been casually walking around.  It's a start and I can see how eventually my lists will grow as I keep practicing and learning more bird calls. Activity 2: This winter I joined my county's Coffee with the Birds program, which introduced me to Ottawa county's different birding clubs and opportunities.  They have been sending out weekly emails this spring including BOLO birds (be on the look out for..)
    • Karen
      Participant
      Chirps: 11
      Northstar56
      Hi, all from western Canada! Here we are closing in on the end of this wonderful course. Activity 1: In lieu of filed notes, I attempt to take pictures of the birds I see and identify them at home with the help of Merlin. I mentally keep notes on the habitat and activity of the birds I observe.  I can't seen myself taking pen and paper on my walks. Perhaps if I was observing from my deck or backyard I might be more inclined to do so. Activity 2: I joined a Facebook group for a local naturalist group. Most posts are about birding and people post on rare bird sightings. It's a great resource for help with identifying birds. I have yet to meet any of the people in person but hope to do so as things open up.    
    • Richard
      Participant
      Chirps: 20
      rspayne
      Keeping track of your birdwatching This will be a set of final thoughts about my first attempt to get organized about a hobby in my 77 years. I have always loved nature.  I turned over rocks and logs and collected creatures.  I had collections of snakes and frogs and turtles and creatures to feed them. Birds were the uncatchable creatures that flew through the air and escaped all but my eyes. I had a field guide but never had a telephoto lens on a good digital camera and Merlin. This course convinced me to find some good places and be ready; to take pictures and examine them closely.  The picture below is an example of the value of these two new tools on my (still in my head) lifetime list. 93DB06B5-2799-43DC-A792-D31FB2DFB640My visual survey of this spot (a spot my wife saw while walking) suggested the normal bunch of white ibis with with a spot of pink in the back. This 300mm telephoto shot made the pink into a roseate spoonbill and showed a duck in the water.  Expanding the image and using Merlin I saw the tricolor heron behind the spoonbill. Scanning other photos from that spot over the 15 or so minutes I found the duck out of the water and Merlin helped establish it was likely a female Green-winged Teal. Before I started the course I had seen a lot of small birds in the large Live Oak outside my lanai. I had not been able to see much detail. But, I hadn’t scanned the images carefully enough. By looking for the best images, blowing them up a bit, enhancing lighting a bit and using Merlin, I found a Palm Warbler, a Yellow-rumped Warbler and a Great-crested Flycatcher.  The Palm Warbler was really trying to hide as you can see below.  57B370F9-2074-401E-B146-D05A40053FC9 A final example was a couple weeks ago, a friend said I should come to his terrace to see all the Wood Storks 200 yards away on the edge of a golf course. They looked more like Ibis to me and my camera helped me establish that but I saw black birds which proved to be Reddish Egrets and a pair of ducks shown belowC793F578-F195-4B08-83EF-374A830765E8 These were Mottled Duck males ID’d by Merlin. My field notes will never be great.  I probably won’t have a great life list, but I will take my telephoto and camera along whenever I go places. A little homework through ebirds and a glimpse of Merlin’s list of birds near me today will go a long way towards finding the name of more of those elusive creatures who fly so free.
      • Karen
        Participant
        Chirps: 11
        Northstar56
        Thank you, Richard! I enjoyed your post so much.
    • Julie
      Participant
      Chirps: 13
      juliehoskins
      Activity 1 - well I wish I could draw! What a wonderful way to create a memory of time outdoors. I did sign in to my eBird account and make my first submission. I can see how this could become a habit. I signed up for the eBird course, so will tackle that next. I totally agree that relying on memory leaves big gaps in what you saw, for now I will just take my phone and record my notes on the go in eBird. Great and easy to use tool!l
    • Julie
      Participant
      Chirps: 13
      juliehoskins
      Activity 2 - I joined our local Audubon Society, and now will receive monthly newsletters. It looks like they have classes and events, too. Looking forward to participating  and learning more!
    • Carol
      Participant
      Chirps: 12
      Carol8632
      Activity 1 - I have been using EBird list and doing checklists when I go out birding. I try and photograph the birds. This can help me identify the bird later as I find it hard to note all the things I need to to identify a bird I am not sure of the identity. One recently was a Tennessee Warbler that without my photos I would not have identified. I check regularly EBird lists from people in my area to get an idea what birds are out there. I upload my photos to my list. I am using Merlin app to help ID.  If I think I know the bird , but not 100% sure, I enter in EBird and click on link to Merlin app to go to bird picture and details to confirm my sighting
    • Karen
      Participant
      Chirps: 11
      Northstar56
      Hi, again, all!  I live in Western Canada. This has been a great course. Activity 1:  Instead of keeping field notes, I bought a camera to photograph birds then identify them at home with the help of E-bird.  I keep mental notes of the bird's habitat and behaviour. If it's a new-to-me bird, I post it in my local naturalist Facebook site and see if I got the identification right. Once it's confirmed, I post the picture on my Facebook site along with date, and location. I also submit my bird sitings to E-bird as a way of keeping track.  I'm new to birding and this is the approach that is working for me so far. I think the most important part of a tracking system is one that you will actually do. Activity 2: I belong to a local naturalist group that has a focus on birds. I participated in my first bird count event with them a couple weeks ago. I've seen ads for local Christmas bird counts and could sign up this coming year. I know the bird groups are out there - it's up to me to connect.
    • Alexis
      Participant
      Chirps: 5
      LLLearner
      I’m getting into the real-time record keeping slowly. The Merlin Bird ID app is great, I’ve recommended it to several friends. For now, I’m mostly putting short comments in my phone while I’m out walking. Usually these are birds I’m sure I’ve identified. Here in the suburbs of Northern Virginia, the ones I don’t know tend to move too quickly for me to do much identifying that I’m sure of. I still enjoy the process!
    • Connie
      Participant
      Chirps: 2
      Connie_Weber
      I take a list of birds every time i go birding at work to add to the park data base. In order to help me id the birds I have started taking detailed notes about what I see.  What habitat, time of day, weather conditions, date, what is the bird(s) doing and how are they doing it.  I made a sheet with all of these observations on it as well as a place to sketch the bird.  It is helping my learn what birds are in that area and what conditions are needed or best. At home I observe birds at the feeder or just hanging out in the trees and on the fence.
    • Mary Ann
      Participant
      Chirps: 13
      makelly415
      I use the Merlin ID app and started keeping a simple journal to record names and place. I don’t want to make it too difficult and take the fun out of birding. I joined the local Audubon group and was looking forward to getting out with them this spring, but Covid shut down a lot of things. The big problem around here are the crowds of people that are coming on the weekends. The local police have to shut down a lot of the parks by mid-morning and limit parking. I am so appreciative to be living in this area and getting to learn more about the birds around me!
    • Patrick
      Participant
      Chirps: 8
      pyoung_2024
      I am really new to using ebird and after learning about I really find it interesting. My first trip ebirding I was able to identify some Canada Goose, female Hooded Merganser, and a Malard duck.
    • Tricia
      Participant
      Chirps: 5
      tdthrasher
      Activity 1: I discovered and started using the Merlin app awhile back. It is really helpful and the ability to download packs for different areas when I travel have been very helpful. I have also recommended it to friends who are casual bird watchers as it is very easy and intuitive to use. I like to write hand notes, but will try eBird as I start getting out again. Activity 2: I've joined the local Audubon chapter and can't wait until outings will be safe to begin again.
    • Danya
      Participant
      Chirps: 14
      dfurda
      Activity 1:  We have been using the Merlin app and even tried the eBird list this weekend.  We love Merlin, especially the feature where one can take a photo and have Merlin identify the bird from it.  I tried putting in notes into my eBird list as I was making it.  However, sometimes I was so interested in the next bird that I skipped it.  Today we witnessed an Eastern Towhee doing a double scratching maneuver in the leaves, similar to the Fox Sparrow foraging back in unit 2.  Amazing!  Activity 2:  I have signed up for the eBird rare bird alerts and get them daily.  It definitely fuels the desire to get out there and try to find rare birds.  I would love to find the Connecticut Warbler, but so far, I've had no luck.  I will post a photo here if I see one.  Here are three bird photos from this weekend:  a Chestnut-sided Warbler, a Black-billed Cuckoo, and a Cedar Waxwing, my favorite local bird. 2-IMG_61791-IMG_66053-IMG_6376
      • Judy
        Participant
        Chirps: 3
        TziporimenNR
        These pictures are beautiful!
    • Catharine
      Participant
      Chirps: 1
      CatharineCarpenter
      I have just started this course, and must admit to being quite intimidated. Live in far west central IL, in a town on the Mississippi River. Looks like so many people from all over the world, seeing birds I will never see. I live on 2.5 acres, with a farm pond. Have lots of feeders: two hummingbird feeders (front and back of house, since they can be pretty territorial, a sunflower chip feeder. a peanut feeder, a safflower seed feeder , a nyger seed feeder, and a suet feeder. Most I have to bring in at night, or the raccoons will destroy them. Lots of bird habitat. People in our area have noticed a greatly reduced number of ruby throated hummingbirds this spring. Did see a redheaded woodpecker - they are not seen often as they usually stick to the woods. Lots of house finches, cardinals, redwinged blackbirds, two pairs of rose breasted grosbeaks, downy and hairy woodpeckers, goldfinches, nuthatches, tufted titmouses, red bellied woodpeckers, blue jays, grackles, and the occasional starling, One Baltimore oriole, some mourning doves. Coopers hawks have not shown up yet. The pond mostly has Canada geese, and an occasional great blue heron. We are close enough to the Mississippi flyway that we get interesting migratory waterbirds, and if I head to the Mississippi River in the winter, Bald Eagles congregate at the lock and dam.  I would like more skill in sparrow identification. They are tough. And I would dearly love to be able to identify bird calls, especially owls. Am probably boring everyone, so will quit now.
      • Cathy
        Participant
        Chirps: 37
        cgtv123
        Hi Catharine, I was not bored by your post.  I enjoyed it.  I am originally from Illinois.  Please don't be intimidated - though I know what you mean.  It's just that people who live elsewhere see lots of neat birds you don't see, and vice versa.  Interesting about the raccoons!  And lucky for you to see a Baltimore Oriole.  Even though I live near Baltimore now, it's rare that I see an Oriole.  It's great that you see alot of hummingbirds; I don't see those very often either and was pleased when I unexpectedly saw a few last year on a walk through a nearby neighborhood.   Best wishes with your birding.  Cathy
    • Nicole
      Participant
      Chirps: 10
      rosie2020
      1. I have been taking pictures and then spending some time in Merlin and ebird learning a bit about them, when they are seen in my area and their migration patterns, their calls/songs as well as what the males vs. females look like in different seasons. I have a difficult time with their sounds, although there are one or two common ones I now know right away- doves, red winged black-birds, red bellied woodpecker.  I have also been pointing out birds and identifying them to friends and family IRL or thru pictures whether they are interested or not :-) Really enjoyed looking at what others here have been doing to capture field notes- very creative. 2. I just started to get involved with the local Audubon (Bedford, NY) group and they are offering wonderful zoom sessions- I chance to learn more about birds, their behaviors and habitats. Some of the ways they are doing this is that their naturalist is taking the members (via zoom) with him as he goes bird watching.
    • Link
      Participant
      Chirps: 10
      Leafblade61
      Activity 1: Trying out different noting types was fun. Drawing was very enjoyable. However, I'm not very good, and I don't think it would help me identify/remember stuff later. I really enjoyed just righting down observations. For example: When somebody scared away the California Gulls, they flew in a huge flock in a circle around the pond and landed down where they had started.
    • Jay
      Participant
      Chirps: 19
      PeanutJay
      Activity 1: I tried combining a few elements from my observations (photography taken, sound recordings made, research done) to retell a sighting from over the weekend… but in comic form. It’s probably not a very sustainable way of making field notes… but I found it a fun way to capture and communicate a memory. See what you think! house_wren
      • Karen
        Participant
        Chirps: 11
        Northstar56
        Jay, I think what you've done is amazing!  I have no idea how you did it but it's a great way to relate the story of your bird experience.  
      • Jay
        Participant
        Chirps: 19
        PeanutJay

        @Karen Thanks, Karen! The comic layout software I used is called, "Comic Life" (https://apps.apple.com/us/app/comic-life-3/id688953417?mt=12), which makes it really easy and fun to place one's images in comic-book-like frames.

      • Jody
        Participant
        Chirps: 7
        BookJody
        Love it!  So creative.  Thanks for sharing!
    • Annie
      Participant
      Chirps: 10
      akiene
      Activity 1: Rather than jotting down notes, I usually try to get pictures of birds to reference later, though without a good zoom lens that's not always possible. Yesterday, though, I heard a bird song that I wanted to identify, so I used the recorder app on my phone and then compared that to songs on the Merlin app. I am honestly weakest on identifying birds by their calls and songs. Some of them have so many, and some of them just sound very similar to me, so I have a hard time distinguishing. It's an area that I want to work on. Anyway, using my recording, I determined that I was hearing the song of a Carolina Chickadee. :-) I was only a little embarrassed at my ignorance there. I see those little guys in my yard constantly, and I hear them chattering to each other constantly, but I didn't recognize their song. I think I will continue to make recordings for reference so I can hone this skill. Activity 2: Not a lot is going on with local birding clubs right now due to COVID-19, but I did join the eBird Alert for Rare Birds in my area and get those emails daily.
      • Jay
        Participant
        Chirps: 19
        PeanutJay
        Very cool! I recently started making audio recordings too. I mention it in my post, but you might checkout Cornell Lab's free "Raven" software for visualizing the sounds you record. It's fun and has brought a new dimension to birding: https://ravensoundsoftware.com
    • Shreya
      Participant
      Chirps: 5
      Shreya Panwar
      YES, NOTES ARE VERY HELPFUL FOR ME WHILE OBSERVING A BIRD.
    • Shreya
      Participant
      Chirps: 5
      Shreya Panwar
      IT IS WIRE TAILED SWALLOW 20200511_161713 Swallows are small, with pointed narrow wings, wide and short tail, short bills, and small feet. Swallows spend much time in the air,flying all around quickly and capturing insects, they are most adapted to move fast and quickly. I found this beautiful bird in Delhi NCR, India. It takes many attempts to click a photo of a fast flier swallow. After studying the bird behaviour and its identification I came to know about this bird also. Keeping an eye on bird is very important to understand its behaviour. Morning time is best for bird watching. As a bird watcher it is important to keep patience as well as noticing bird and knowing its behaviour also requires patience. Wire tailed swallow is common here but as a first attempt it means a lot for me. It does not take straight flight, it takes sudden flight which is very impressive. Bird watching is very interesting. Tracking birds and seeing them with binoculars is really a wonderful feeling. Wing Tailed Swallow flies in form of circle all around its area. Its small bill helps in feeding and long wings are useful for its flight.
      • Cathy
        Participant
        Chirps: 37
        cgtv123
        Wow!  Thanks for sharing.  I never saw a bird like this before, with the tails like that. Best wishes with your birding. Cathy
    • Sylvia
      Participant
      Chirps: 9
      SylviaA
      I love Manyu's drawing...I have long wanted to start a nature journal, so maybe this will inspire me!
    • Sylvia
      Participant
      Chirps: 9
      SylviaA
      Activity #1. Yes, my notes were helpful...I noted the size and color of some birds, and what the habitat was like. In a forested area, I saw robins, flickers, house sparrows, and a couple of warblers (it is May, after all!). In a marshy area, I saw Canada geese (including mom and four goslings), gulls (we only seem to have ring-billed gulls around Inwood Hill Park), and a solitary egret (it was distant, but I think it was a great egret. And I tried to describe some songs I heard, when I didn't see the birds...e.g. the three "warm-up notes" of the song sparrow; and the "conkaree" of the red-winged blackbird. Activity #2. I actually signed up for a NYC listserve last year: ebirds.nyc. It's been quiet because of the corona virus lockdown here, but today there was a burst of emails because people are starting to see warblers: one woman saw 19 species of warblers early this morning in a park I hadn't heard of, but will now check out (when lockdown is over, that is)
    • Manyu
      Participant
      Chirps: 42
      SManyu
      Activity 2 - Found a Bird community group called Jaipur Zoo. Will connect with them.
    • Manyu
      Participant
      Chirps: 42
      SManyu
      IMG_20200507_195113__01 Activity 1
      • Cathy
        Participant
        Chirps: 37
        cgtv123
        Wow.  Nice picture - thanks for sharing.  Maybe I will bring some pencils with me when birding to give it a try!  (Though I know mine will not be as nice as yours.)  I'm not the best artist, though perhaps with practice I can improve. Cathy
    • Robyn
      Participant
      Chirps: 6
      RobFork
      I may get the e-bird app to document my bird finds, but I've never kept track before.  I usually walk around with my Bay Area Bird ID foldable, laminated chart.  The Merlin app has been helpful.  In my community garden I will sometimes sketch birds with colored pencil in a nature notebook.  When the shelter-in-place ends, I will join a birding group walk through Los Gatos Birdwatcher, our local birding shop.  In the meantime, I joined "birdy hour" via Zoom facilitated by San Francisco Bay Bird Observatory.
      • Cassandra
        Participant
        Chirps: 1
        cltenny
        We are neighbors! I'll have to check out Los Gatos Birdwatcher...I've never even heard of a birding shop before!! Thanks for the tip!
    • Paula
      Participant
      Chirps: 19
      Pklazrus
      I find it hard to take notes, look for birds I've heard but can't find, handle binoculars and or a camera!  Still it's worth it even when I look back at notes from traveling to see how I've describe or been excited about something I've seen. I wonder, can one add birds to ebird that one saw and listed on a trip a year or more ago before taking this class when traveling with a group that did birding before I knew much? I have signed up for alerts in my area and there are two rare sightings but it's been raining for 3 days! I hope to get out and see if I can spot the birds mentioned!
      • Cathy
        Participant
        Chirps: 37
        cgtv123
        Hi Paula, You can add birds you saw in the past, but if you don't know the exact date there is a special procedure and I don't think others will be able to view that particular sighting/ recording. But you can still enter them.  I did this for a bunch of birds when I created a life list when I first started the course. I know what you mean about trying to handle so many things at once.  I can't even find my binoculars now!  I very much like what the instructor said about there not being one "right" way and how we all have to do what works for us. Best wishes with your birding! Cathy
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