The Cornell Lab Bird Academy Discussion Groups Joy of Birdwatching Activities: Local Bird Exploration

    • Bird Academy
      Bird Academy
      Share your experience participating in this lesson's activities. Comment on as many or as few activities as you'd like.
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    • Jason
      Participant
      Chirps: 3
      Activity 1: I woke up early and tried watching my bird feeder. There wasn't much except some Pine Siskins and a few Dark-eyed Juncos. However there were many birds in the area that I could hear and ID with the help of Merlin: Northern Flickers, American Robins, Varied Thrush, American Crows, Red-breasted Nuthatch, European Starlings, Steller's Jay, Golden Crowned Kinglet and a Ruby Crowned Kinglet. I thought I heard a seagull and some kind of goose in the distance, but Merlin couldn't ID them.
    • Nancy
      Participant
      Chirps: 3
      Activity 1:     I am participating in Project Feeder watch.  My observations today were fewer birds than usual, probably because it is a windy day and we ran out of a popular type of seed mix.  I have seen at least one of each of the following birds: Northern cardinal, black-capped chickadee, common grackle, red-winged blackbird, house sparrow, brown-headed cowbird, and mourning dove. Activity 3:  I got on e-bird and saw a long list of birds that are seen in Sedgwick County, Kansas, where I live.  Many of them I have seldom or never seen before.  The five I chose to learn more about are the wood duck, ruby-throated hummingbird, baltimore oriole, white-breasted nuthatch, and the eastern bluebird.  I hope to put out a hummingbird feeder soon and attract some hummingbirds and orioles.  I hope to see more varieties of ducks at the Great Plains Nature Center (about one/half mile from my home).  I have only seen Mallard ducks there in the past.  I want to record more bird songs on Merlin, and see what birds are around our home and the nature center.
    • Krystal
      Participant
      Chirps: 10
      Activity 2: Of the top 5 most likely according to Merlin, I see and hear four of these almost every day in my backyard at the feeder. They were:
      •  Blue Jay ✅
      • Fish Crow ✅
      • Laughing Gull
      • Northern Mockingbird ✅
      • Mourning Dove ✅
      The Laughing Gull I was surprised by. When I looked it up and listened to it, I recognized it immediately from areas closer to water but I could have sworn I rarely saw them around my place. Wouldn't you know it that I almost immediately saw a group of 5 of them on my drive to work, swooping around - and then the very next morning, saw and heard them from my yard. I guess Merlin was right after all!
    • Carey
      Participant
      Chirps: 2
      Activity 3.  I used Merlin to search for birds likely to be found in my area today (March 4) that are unknown to me. A Gyrfalcon is apparently possible to be found in my area but noted also as uncommon.  I love the initial description of the Gyrfalcon in Merlin; Stocky beast of a falcon. A Northern Shrike, Horned Lark, Snow Bunting and Common Redpoll are the other four I learned about.
    • Susan
      Participant
      Chirps: 6
      Activity 3 - Used Merlin to identify 5 birds that are common to my geographic region that I have not yet seen in person - they included the Killdeer, Yellow-rumped Warbler, Ring Necked Duck, Brown Creeper, and the Wood Duck.
    • Lexi
      Participant
      Chirps: 2
      1. House sparrow; Cardinals; goldfinch; house finch; black capped chickadee 2. Most likely birds: Morning Dove; Cooper's hawk; Downy Woodpecker 3. Common Goldeneye; Wilson's Snipe; Sandhill crane; Belted Kingfisher;
    • Kristian
      Participant
      Chirps: 9
      Activity 1: I decided to go to a parking lot by the Hotspot Little Met Golf Course. I used Merlin and it picked up a few birds by sound being a Cardinal sp., Dark Eyed Junco sp., White Breasted nuthatch sp., Blue Jay sp., Carolina Wren sp., and Red Bellied Woodpecker sp. There was nothing visible in site except a few birds that were too far away to ID. One did a dive from high in the tree down to another tree, stopped, went to another, and another. I do have a bird cam feeder, and I watched that. Blacked Capped Chickadee, White Breasted Nuthatch, and a few Tit Mice. All of them would land at the feeder, look around, and see the seeds followed by a grab and go. The size range was between a Sparrow and Robin. Chickadee had a white belly with some tan/orange underside, brown nape, and black cap. The White Breasted Nuthatch has big round eyes, gray, crest, and includes white and a little orange. White Breasted Nuthatch has a nice straight like bill and, black crown, white cheeks, gray wings, black stripes, wider tail. He arches forward a bit and makes swift movements. Activity 2: I used the map to locate the hotspot for Activity 1. Didn't see exactly what I needed to, but the noise IDs did match up with what Merlin stated was the most likely species. Activity 3: First Bird: Chestnut-sided Warbler (Local Migratory - May, September), Second Bird: Yellow-Rumped Warbler (April-June, Sept-Nov), Third Bird: Eastern Towhee (March-November), Fourth Bird: Common Redpoll (November-April), Fifth Bird: Fox Sparrow (November -May with peak at March-May)
    • Adam
      Participant
      Chirps: 3
      I go out birding weekly, at least twice and always do look for what birds might be present when I go. Sometimes the preparation helps me see or hear new species that are around. Today I went walking and was able to find some familiar species- familar thanks to merlin and ebird, and this course! The white breasted nuthatch and the downy woodpecker was the highlight of the day, as well as the all time favorite the american robin!
    • Crystal
      Participant
      Chirps: 8
      Activity 1:  While watching the Ontario feederwatch bird camera I saw 3 Common Grackles eating on the platform feeder. This was exciting to see as it’s a bird I have never see in person before. I also saw some Dark-eyed Juncos eating on the platform feeder as well.  I also checked out the Cornell Lab feeder watch camera and saw 2 woodpeckers at once.  I think it was a Hairy Woodpecker and a Downy Woodpecker. Which was cool to see both at the same time and compare how one was smaller, with a smaller bill than the other. I liked how below the camera it showed the possible species you might see while watching and I also liked how the camera had audio so I could hear the birds too. Activity 2:  I used Merlin’s “most likely” feature to see what birds I could see locally today. I also tuned on the filter “hide birds on life list” so I would only be shown birds I still haven’t seen and logged with ebird.  These birds were all uncommon or rare. The uncommon birds included the Great-tailed Grackle, Hairy Woodpecker, Spotted Sandpiper, Bald Eagle, Wrentit, Glaucous-winged Gull and California Thrasher.  These are all birds I hope to see but will have to research specific places to try see them. Activity 3:  I looked at the bar charts for my area and found five birds that pass through that I wasn’t familiar with.  These included the Harlequin Duck, Summer Tanager, Mountain Bluebird, Lewis’s Woodpecker, and Common Loon. All of these birds looked cool but will be tough to find since they only migrate through and seem to be pretty rare in my area.
    • Nathan
      Participant
      Chirps: 4
      Activity 3: I used eBird's Illustrated Checklist feature to learn about various birds commonly seen in Illinois around mid-October. As this is still migration time for many birds, I was interested to see what kinds of birds were seen primarily during the fall migration season. I read about the Hermit Thrush, Winter Wren, Dark-eyed Junco, Yellow-rumped Warbler, and Orange-crowned Warbler. I enjoyed learning the (complex!) calls of these birds and some of their identifying characteristics.
    • Theresa
      Participant
      Chirps: 5
      Activity 1: Went to a park nearby my house. I saw three different birds. I saw 2 canada Geese, 3 northern flickers, and 1 blue jay. We also saw a large flock of birds on an island in the middle of the lake. However, at the time we did not yet have binoculars so we were not able to fully see what they were.
    • Penelope
      Participant
      Chirps: 38
      Activity 1: Merlin detected a Bald Eagle, the resident Red-tailed Hawk dropped in, cleverly disguising themselves as part of a power pole. Merlin also detected my first Cape May Warbler today, which was a success! And couple of American Robins were singing nearby the old shed. VERYGOODROBIN
    • Anita
      Participant
      Chirps: 19
      Activity 3:  I checked out the birds at a small pond by my place of employment.  There have been four separate sandpiper species found there, which blew me away.  I never would've guessed that these birds would be found at such a small pond in an urban area, I imagined that sandpipers would want large marshy muddy places to roam.  Listening to their calls was interesting too.  The Pectoral Sandpiper makes a deep whirring sound that I wouldn't have even credited to a bird had I heard it previously.
    • Gregory
      Participant
      Chirps: 8
      Activity 1: In the nearby park yesterday I saw 10 Canada geese, 2 wood ducks, 7 mallards, 1 ruby-throated hummingbird, 2 ring-billed gulls, 2 double-crested cormorants, 4 great blue herons, 3 green herons, 1 black-crowned night heron, 1 great egret, 1 Cooper's hawk, 5 American crows, 15 barn swallows, 3 gray catbirds, 10 house sparrows, and 3 American goldfinches. Activity 2: Apparently the 10 overall most likely birds right now are the ring-billed gull, American goldfinch, mallard, northern cardinal, house sparrow, Canada goose, American robin, barn swallow, black-capped chickadee, and chimney swift. American goldfinches are somewhat seasonal, barn swallows and chimney swifts are strongly seasonal, and the rest are very common throughout the year. Activity 3: Common goldeneyes are very abundant in winter, semipalmated sandpipers are common from early summer to early autumn, snowy owls are moderately abundant in the winter, yellow-billed cuckoos are relatively common in late spring through mid-autumn, and Swainson's thrush is very common in late spring and early autumn but not during the summer.
    • chris
      Participant
      Chirps: 9
      2 American Robins where spotted on my walk, 1 cedar waxwing, 1 Northern Flicker woodpecker, 1 Pilleated Woodpecker?, a black capped chickadee responded to my whistle, 1 Brown Creeper making its way up a tree, I spotted a few smaller (between sparrow and robin sized) birds flying by with a forked tail and long wings.  They wizzed by pretty fast but they looked relatively dark however this could very easily have been a trick of the light too so I have no idea what species they actually where.  Many of these where actually on my Merlin list however some of them where not as well and there are also clear limits to my knowledge as I could not actually ID many of the birds that I saw and heard on my outing.  I am looking forward to the day that I can ID the bird in my region and feel comfortable learning about birds in other regions as well. Birds That I didnt know passed through my area are actually more common than birds I did know passed through my area if im being honest so finding 5 of them was not too hard LOL. 1 - Eurasian Collared - Dove 2 - Common Merganser 3 - Bullocks Oriol 5 - Vaux's Swift It is really awesome to learn more about the places I have grown up.
    • Camille
      Participant
      Chirps: 9
      Activity 3: I have not seen these birds in my area, but according to ebirds, they are there! Barn Swallow Chimney Swift Cedar Waxing Willow Flycatcher Indigo Bunting
    • Jena
      Participant
      Chirps: 5
      Activity 2- I’m traveling and staying in Annapolis MD. I browsed Merlin’s most likely list for the area. On my morning walk by sight I identified many American Robins, a Northern Mockingbird, a few Northern Cardinals. Using the app sound ID, it identified a blue jay, common grackle, and some others that I didn’t have a chance to see. Hoping to actually spot a beautiful blue jay. I was so excited to use the bird sound feature. It’s awesome!!!
    • Mark
      Participant
      Chirps: 7
      Activity 1 I watched the Cornell Feeder Watch Cam for some time today and saw the following birds:
      • 2 blue jays
      • 2 mourning doves
      • 1 common grackle
      • 2 redwing blackbirds
      • 1 hairy woodpecker
      Activity 2 While walking my dog in a park near my house, I saw three birds that are on my local "Most Likely" Merlin species list. Those birds were a turkey vulture, a blue jay, and a black-capped chickadee. While walking pasted a wooded area, I heard a lot of bird songs that I could not identify. I used Merlin Sound ID and identified the following birds:
      • Song sparrow
      • Northern cardinal
      • Tufted titmouse
      • Blue jay
      • Carolina wren
      • American goldfinch
      • Northern cardinal
      • Gray catbird
      Activity 3 Five bird species that live in my area during at least part of the year are: 1) Belted Kingfisher 2) Eastern Wood-Pewee 3) Northern Flicker 4) Double-crested Cormorant 5) Eastern Phoebe
    • Ruth
      Participant
      Chirps: 17
      Activity 1 -  I went to a small Lake called Lodi Lake in Lodi California on July 3, the day before the 4th of July.   It was late afternoon and a local group was having a party and the birds hid.   I ,however, saw Canada Goose about 30, 1  Great Egret and a beautiful swallow, Barn Swallow.  The blue on the Swallow was so vivid.   The Canada Geese had bars on their necks which I had never seen before (Sooooo striking ). Activity 2  -There is a checklist for Lodi Lake, San Joaquin County, California, USA.  I attempted to record the birds I saw but I could not figure out the process.  How do I order a check list? Activity 3 - The Black Phoebe and the Coot are two I did not know used the Lodi Lake as a place of Habitat.   Ruth Bates
    • Gregg
      Participant
      Chirps: 1
      Yesterdy evening, I had 3 male rose-brested grosbeaks at my feeders. IMG_1657 I’m lerning through watching the variety of birds. I can’t rave enough about Merlin, and am usually fortunate enough to attract over half the birds that Merlin identifies to my feeders. Merlin recorded 19 birds over a 10 minute period yesterday.
    • Katelynn
      Participant
      Chirps: 5
      Activity #3: I did not know that there are brants, white-throated swifts, yellow rails, killdeer, and red-naped sapsuckers in my county!
    • Catherine
      Participant
      Chirps: 2
      Activity 1:  I am fortunate to have a beautiful mature yard that is alive with birds. Just this weekend I have seen; hummingbirds, orioles, goldfinches, cedar waxwings, robins, blue jays, house wrens, downy woodpeckers, red and white breasted nuthatches, flickers, and I know we have a red eyed vireo, I can hear him....but I can never find him!
    • Heath
      Participant
      Chirps: 5
      Activity 3: After looking at the bar charts and range maps, I'm excited to explore more of my region. I did not know I could see: Wood Ducks, Wild Turkeys, Great Egrets, Red-Headed Woodpeckers, and Prothonotary Warblers.
    • Kurt
      Participant
      Chirps: 29
      I've noticed as spring turns to summer that a previously unseen bird, the Gambel's Quail, has decided to venture into my backyard. I've noticed usually two males and one female, feeding on the ground from seeds that fall from my feeder. More recently, I have noticed the quails traveling in larger family groups, with the chicks between mother and father. However, because my backyard is walled, I have yet to see the chicks in my yard, only the adults.