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

    • Andrea
      Participant
      Chirps: 12
      Activity 1: I have taken pictures and notes of local birds, and birds that are in this area for breeding in the Summer. I took some notes during the time when some Mourning Doves made a nest right in front of my window, I took pictures after the eggs hatched and once when the mother was feeding the little chicks. Also, after spending the spring and the first part of the summer listening to Acadian Flycatchers that are temporarily in the local parks I could take a picture of a nest, which was very interesting to see. This has helped me have a more broad view of these species and be more attentive to nests in order no to disturb them.IMG_2210IMG_2159IMG_2187
    • Angeleque
      Participant
      Chirps: 6
      Activity Two- As far as I can see, we do not have any chapters near us. We would love to connect with people (via seeing their submissions) we see on the ebird site for our remote NY state county. Does anyone know how to do that? We've asked before. We also participate in the Backyard Count and have signed up for the Audubon Christmas count. We did not know about the feeder count. That sounds very interesting.
    • Activity 2: In Florida the summer's get hot and humid and birding activity slows down. Many birding groups take a break through the summer months. To encourage people to continue birding Florida Fish and Wildlife Commission is sponsoring the June Challenge. This is a county level friendly challenge to record how many species you can see during the slow birding month of June.
    • Alicia
      Participant
      Chirps: 24
      Activity #1: I love keeping field notes. As mentioned by Kevin in this lesson's video, these notes help to bring back wonderful memories of bird sightings and experiences from places around the world. I only wish I had the same artistic skills to really be able to document each bird with the notes!
    • John
      Participant
      Chirps: 2
      House Finches #2 DSC_2589 Activity 1:  I very much enjoy getting to know the birds that come to my backyard feeder and have been a faithful participant in Project Feeder Watch for the past two years. Photography has been very helpful to me as I keep track of the various species that visit my feeders. I am especially grateful for how helpful photography is in determining whether or not the birds that feed in my backyard are healthy. Finches for example require close examination to determine if they have signs of eye disease. So, by photographing these finches I can be much more certain about whether or not they are carrying eye disease.
    • Cheryl
      Participant
      Chirps: 21
      Activity 1: I am a photographer and take along my camera to help me identify what I am looking at. I have also written down notes to help me later when going through field guides. Recently, I loaded Merlin on my phone and I have enjoyed using it to record the birds singing. Activity 2: In November I signed up for Feeder Watch and I have enjoyed watching and tallying the birds every weekend. In February, I signed up for the GBBC and added another location from my own backyard to the count. I also opened an eBird account on my desktop to fill in my GBBC observations, however, I didn't realize I could continue to enter counts on a regular basis. So this information about eBird was helpful.
    • Alexandra
      Participant
      Chirps: 8
      Activity 1: Yes, my notes are helpful, especially with Sparrows and some of the Woodpecker species we have in the area. I take pictures of them and also use Merlin to verify that my guesses are correct. I have a life list that's starting to get some bulk to it.   Activity 2: We do the annual Great Backyard Bird Count.
    • Alicia
      Participant
      Chirps: 23
      Activities 1 & 2: Since the end of December I'd been seeing on the eBird rare bird alert that there was an immature Ross's Gull seen from the pier at Nieuwpoort on the Belgian coast, and yesterday I finally went to see him. He regularly hangs out with Black-headed and Herring Gulls around the end of the pier, flying over the sea and sometimes even perching right on the pier. The field guides say that an immature Ross's Gull can resemble immature Black-legged Kittiwakes and Little Gulls, but I noted down the special field marks of the Ross's Gull and this bird definitely showed them (especially his wedge-shaped tail with black tips to the central tail feathers). But his ID has been confirmed by many birdwatchers more expert than me.
    • Alice
      Participant
      Chirps: 14
      Activity 2:
      • Florida Audubon
    • Nancy
      Participant
      Chirps: 8
      Activity 2: Joined eBird rare alerts a few months ago. I especially enjoy learning about what’s been spotted in my favorite area a day or so before I venture out to that area. I’ll study what those birds look and sound like, and where to find them before I go out birding. Thanks to the detailed information some birders provide in their eBird notes, on one occasion I was able to find the bird in the exact location as described in the rare eBird alert. I felt very accomplished and excited when I found it! eBird and Merlin are amazing! 😊
    • Julie
      Participant
      Chirps: 4
      I must be psychic because a few days ago I signed up for the rare bird alerts from eBird.  Someone reported having seen a Lapland Longspur in my town.  I wasn’t able to rush out and go see it (and I was thinking, am I becoming one of Those People? Maybe so!) but I did look it up, and noticed that it doesn’t normally live in NC. It might not be rare elsewhere but it would be interesting to see one here. We were in England hiking once and there were a bunch of birders crowding into a bird blind. They all had their scopes and bins and huge lenses. There was an air of great excitement.  We asked what they were seeing, and they said “a cattle egret.” Cattle egrets don’t live in the UK so I suppose that would be pretty exciting!
    • Emily
      Participant
      Chirps: 23
      I haven’t ever done field notes. I’ve tried just a handful of times to write down what i saw , but with the easy of technology, the merlin bird app allows me to observe and quickly identify most of the time. I’ve recently been really liking the sound ID feature so if i can get a sound registered then i will see if that suggestion matches what i see. On the occasion the app doesn’t suggest the bird i saw i try to get a picture or will then make a few notes about distinguishing colors, patterns, etc, to search through my bird book at a later time.
    • I made a new year's resolution this year to make one eBird report every day.  Actually, I started in mid December after only hearing about eBird for the first time in November. As of this writing, I have a 214 day streak!  I try to take pictures that I add at least a couple of times a week and, since the new Merlin Song ID, I've been adding audio too.  But sometimes, on those back to back meeting days, I just sit by my living room window during a meeting and log what I see out the window. It's pretty addictive. On a side note, there are people who check your eBird submissions to make sure they are accurate. When I first started logging and they said things like "Dear Stephanie, thank you for submitting to eBird , but that sparrow that you thought you saw was probably a warbler". At first, I was a bit insulted. But I realized that I really had only been birding for a couple of months, so what did I know. I decided to use my phone camera to record every bird that I saw and reported each day, even crows.  That way, I could get some useful feedback on my bird IDs and have proof when I actually saw something unusual. It worked. I've learned a ton from the feedback and have struck up a friendship of sorts with the 2 or 3 guys who usually give me feedback.
    • Dominique
      Participant
      Chirps: 21
      I always like jotting things down but now, after this course, I plan to do that in a more systematic way. I’m a birding beginner and using the pandemic lockdown time to try some new hobbies. I’ve been observing neighbourhood birds regularly. Merlin and eBird are good place to start and I’m impressed with the functionality (local maps, weekly sightings etc)... a while new birding world has opened up to me!
    • Yvonne
      Participant
      Chirps: 7
      I had reported on watching a robin nesting through when the birds flew out of the nest.  I now know about keeping record of the various changes of the eggs up to independent little robins.  I would like to know the exact amount of days from laying eggs to breaking out of their shell and various other behaviors they earned before leaving the nest.  Thanks
    • I participated in Activity #2 without even knowing about it. I took the eBird essentials course a week ago and as per a recommendation, I signed up for a rare birds alert. To my surprise this week an alert came in. It was several sightings of a rare bird called a Piping Plover. It was at a Wildlife Reserve about 25 minutes away. I’ve never even known about this place before but made a date with my daughter to visit the Reserve at 5 am to see the sunrise and do some birding. We saw the sunrise and 2 Blue Herons, deer, many ducks and birds, then we actually came across the rare Plover foraging in the sand. We checked the pictures and Bird ID info. We matched the song and chirps up with sound bytes. We took pictures and were so giddy and happy to see such a rare, precious little bird. It made for a great memory with my daughter.
    • Isabel
      Participant
      Chirps: 34
      I like to exercise and walk in the parks. I carry the camera and try to identify the birds using the Merlin App. If I can´t find it , I post the photo on the Facebook group of the Ornithological Association and in a few minutes someone helps me with the ID. And I am learning to sketch the birds that come to my backyard.
    • Karrin
      Participant
      Chirps: 47
      Activity 1: I love the idea of keeping a field journal, but I have no artistic ability whatsoever. That being said, I'll be signing up for the field journal course after I finish this one. :-) Activity 2: I joined the Birds of Virginia Facebook group. It has nearly 7,000 members, so I look forward to seeing what people post. PS I also want to participate in an upcoming bird count.
      • Dominique
        Participant
        Chirps: 21
        I’m also considering the field journal course after this one. I thunk sketching forces you to look closely, ie to do better observations and that course sounds fun.
    • Penny
      Participant
      Chirps: 7
      I have joined the Birds in Wisconsin Facebook group. Also I’ve signed up for the e-bird alert emails for my county, both for rare birds and for year needs. It’s fun to read about what others are seeing. It has introduced me to several great spots to go birding!
    • Jeff
      Participant
      Chirps: 3
      We spotted a Downy woodpecker while out walking.    My wife and I tried to note the distinguishing characteristics to help with identification:     It was pretty small, less than a robin.   It was only black and white and no red markings so she is a female.   Her beak was black and fairly small compared to the head size.   The chest was all white and no other markings there.    The back was mostly black but several lines of white spots next to each other on her wings. She was upright in a tree branch and definitely searching for food.    Although not loudly drumming she did forcefully put her beak into the branch and seemed to me looking for insects. All these observations made the ID a cinch once I searched for her on Merlin.    It helps to at least say out loud the characteristics and list everything you can think of.      I now know that I really did see a Yellow bellied sapsucker the other day but didn't list enough characteristics to nail the ID at that time.
    • Liz
      Participant
      Chirps: 14
      I do not belong to a birding group but a good friend of mine is teaching and encouraging me in my quest to learn more about our fellow creatures. We try to get out to do the bird count every Feb and May by taking the hiking in Algonquin Park taking trails with a variety of habitats. What a fun day we always have enjoying our friendship, our common interest and our discoveries. DSCN3395DSCN3405DSCN3417
      • Karrin
        Participant
        Chirps: 47
        These are great pictures! I know it's not a subject of this course, but I am jealous that you've seen a moose.
    • Liz
      Participant
      Chirps: 14
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    • Aiden
      Participant
      Chirps: 8
      Saw a Ruffed Grouse a few days ago. Watched it for over an hour, took photos, and also did some field sketches to try and capture the general idea of its shape, as this was the most distinctive part of it, with the small head and large, round body. The field notes were not very helpful for ID because I had photos, but they were an interesting creative opportunity and I see how they could come in handy if I did not have my camera on me. 26743280_Unknown
    • My daughters and I took the Nature Journaling course that Kevin mentions in one of these lessons.  And when sketching birds that we see, I take as many field notes about observations that I can then later, look up more about the bird.  I might add some facts to the page.   This has helped me immensely in learning how to ID the bird next time and generally about the bird.  And yes, the notes help with the ID.  It's slow going but a super satisfying process for me and one I have shared with my kids.  Merlin is super helpful for the quick ID and have recently added e bird to be able to submit the data.
    • I looked it DSCF0243up, on the ABA. The American Birding Association. They have rare bird alerts, throughout the USA. For 12-18-20, they have a bird, I have never heard of. Photographed on 12-16-20, it is TUNDRA BEAN GOOSE. From PENN. USA. There was a list, in MA., and one on the list, was a form of Grosbeak. A Cackling Grosbeak. That was listed, recently. I, myself, have seen more of the classical, common birds, that you would see. But I have seen some unique Geese, at a farm, on the North-Shore. I have never seen a bird, that was so rare, as to report it. If I do, I now where to report it. The ABA, and eBird. (this pic., is a Goose, that was on a farm. in Northern Ma.)