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

    • Mary Jane
      Participant
      Chirps: 5
      Activity 2: Of the top 25 birds “most likely” in Ottawa, Ontario, Canada, today, I saw 13 while birding this morning. If I add in my walk yesterday, I get to 17. At this time of year, even the migrants are getting to be fewer, so the 13 to 17 to 25 will be the main birds I see for the next while, although I did see four or five more birds in the past two days that go beyond the top 25 “most likely”, so there is always some variety when one just gets ups and out.
    • Julie
      Participant
      Chirps: 2
      I watched birds last week in Fort Morgan, Alabama. There were lots of Yellow-rumped Warblers, Gray Catbirds, Eastern Phoebe, Swamp Sparrow, Pine Warbler, Carolina Wren, Northern Cardinal, Common Yellowthroat, Downy Woodpecker, and a few House Finch. This was all early morning when I was sitting on my porch overlooking the Bon Secour National Wildlife Refuge.
    • Hello everyone! I went to Fish Haul Beach on Hilton Head Island this morning. The birds I saw were black skimmers, willets, a reddish egret, marbled godwit, snowy egret, tricolored heron, little blue heron, least sandpipers, lesser black-backed gulls, piping plovers, sanderling, laughing gulls, ruddy turnstones, great egrets, and brown pelicans. The tide was about 2 hours away from high tide and it was a bright, breezy, cooler morning.
    • Boglárka
      Participant
      Chirps: 3
      The most exciting discovery was the mountain howler, which migrates from the mountains to the lower areas in October. An exciting experience.
    • Marcel
      Participant
      Chirps: 9
      Activity 2. The most likely bird on October 2 in Sault Ste Marie Ontario are Black Capped Chickadee, American Crow, Blue Jays, White-throated Sparrow and Song Sparrow
    • Marcel
      Participant
      Chirps: 9
      most likely birds today in Sault Ste Marie Ontario are Black cap chickadee,American crow , blue jays, song sparrow American Goldfinch and rock pigeon September 21
    • Liz
      Participant
      Chirps: 3
      #1 - I like the BirdCam - this was my first time going there.  The feeder at the Cornell site was busy with birds; some I could ID and others I couldn't since I live in the intermountain west.
    • Peter
      Participant
      Chirps: 8
      For Vancouver, Canada; I used Explore Birds in Merlin, Likely Birds filter, to select five bird species I had never heard of: Violet-Green Swallow – breeds here and overwinters in Mexico and Central America, but the bar chart indicates the species can be found in this region for most of the year although in greater numbers from April through to August. A species of open habitats including lakes and wetlands. Red-Breasted Sapsucker – Common in this region throughout the year, which is part of its year-round range. A striking bird with a brilliant red head and breast. A species of forests, typically mixed and coniferous forests. Yellow-Headed Blackbird – A striking bird, frequenting open habitats, with males having a head and breast of bright yellow and females having mottled or splotched, yellow on the head and breast. More common in central North America with some occurrences on parts of both coasts of the continent.  The species migrates between its breeding areas in Canada and the US and its overwintering areas in Mexico and southern US.  The species is not very abundant in this region. Cinnamon Teal – a species found throughout the Americas, with the western US and parts of western Canada, including this region, providing breeding habitat, with overwintering habitat in western and central Mexico. Greatest abundance in this region is from the beginning of April to the end of August.  A species that frequents wetlands and similar habitats, males are a ruddy red-brown, while females are less red-brown but with very detailed patterns of coloration through its body.  Eyes are a bold red. Red Crossbill – a species found throughout the northern US, provincial Canada, parts of sub-Arctic North America, and all of Europe.  It is a year-round resident of this region. Found most often in coniferous forests as it feeds on conifer seeds and has a bill shaped expressly for this purpose. Both males and females are relatively plain coloured, males being dull orange-red mixed with brown/gray areas, while females are similarly patterned but with olive-yellow replacing the orange-red of the males.
    • Tanya
      Participant
      Chirps: 5
      Activity 1: Actually, I've been doing this for years.  I installed six birdfeeders in my backyard. I've managed to upload many lists to ebird. I'm at 147 in my life list and I've seen 62 just in my own back yard! My most common sightings are White-winged doves, Inca doves, house sparrows, house finches, Northern Mockingbirds, Tufted Titmice, Carolina Wrens, Carolina Chickadees, Northern Cardinals, Blue Jays, and a Cooper's Hawk. I've seen many more. :)
    • Jaime
      Participant
      Chirps: 1
      Activity #2: I live in Bogotá, Colombia and the most likely birds are: 1. Great Thrush 2. Rufous-Collared Sparrow 3. Eared Dove 4. Sparkling Violetear 5. Brown-Bellied Swallow
    • Alicia
      Participant
      Chirps: 24
      Activity #2: I live in Chicago and I was surprised to learn from Merlin, how many different bird species are likely to be around me right now! The top six are: 1) American Robin, 2) House Sparrow, 3) Northern Cardinal, 4) Chimney Swift (just arrived in April and will be here until November), 5) European Starling, and of course 6) the Rock Pigeon. With the exception of the Chimney Swift, I see the other five in my backyard or in my front trees and shrubs on a daily basis. The Mourning Dove is further down on the list but I frequently wake up to their beautiful cooing songs. I wish they weren't so nervous around me!
    • Shelby
      Participant
      Chirps: 7
      I’ve been amazed at the variety of birds that live in the city! Just walking around my apartment the other day my kiddos and I saw: American Robins, Cardinals, Killdeer, Crows, Rock Pigeons, Mockingbirds, Mourning Doves, Grackles, Mallards and even a lone Blue Jay!
    • WLMII
      Participant
      Chirps: 17
      ACTIVITY 1:  I was on a bike ride and saw 8 white doves fly out of a field.  They were accompanied by 2 gray doves with white speckles and white bellies.  Even with using all of the apps and sites this was kind of difficult because it turns out they are just Rock Doves or some sort of racing or homing doves.  Some of them did have blue rings on their legs.  I couldn't get close enough to read them.  I also saw two double crested cormorants fly over, a hawk I could not identify, one red winged black bird, two turkey vultures and four American crows. ACTIVITY 2:  A few weeks ago I used Merlin's Most Likely and listened to calls to get my first confirmed sighting of a Fish Crow.  The call was the only way I was able to identify it.  It matched the first recording on Merlin exactly. ACTIVITY 3:  Until recently I had never heard of the Sandhill Crane.  I didn't know it came to my area (Missouri).  I used the bar chart to see that I better get going if I want to see one because my odds are about to shrink for a few months.
    • Sarah
      Participant
      Chirps: 18
      Activity 1: Cardinal Blue jay Mockingbird Blue heron Barred owl Mallard Canada geese Merganser American Gold finch Crow American Robin Eastern Blue bird Mountain blue bird Mourning dove Sparrows- Chipping, field, song Black-capped chickadee Eastern phoebe woodpeckers- pileated, hairy, downy, red-bellied tufted titmouse red-wing blackbird tree swallow European starling Brown thrasher   Activity 2: bird walk local field trip with Master Naturalists Activity 3: five birds that pass through your area that you didn’t know about. Cormorant, great egret, bald eagle
    • Danica
      Participant
      Chirps: 2
      Activity 1: At our cabin Monday I saw Downy woodpeckers, Blue Jay's, Crows and Ravens, Canada Geese, Evening Grosbeaks, Black-eyed Juncos, Chickadees, Common Redpolls, Black-billed Magpies, White-breasted Nuthatch and Pine Grosbeaks. Activity 2: I quite like this App. The most likely option helps with my confidence in IDing the birds I see. Activity 3: I am quite familiar with the Merlin App, but the ebird and all about birds is new to me. Definitely interested in learning more about them.
    • Tisha
      Participant
      Chirps: 5
      Activity 1: Watched birds in Piedmont area of NC - April 15th - saw; Northern Cardinals, Tufted Titmouse, American Robins, Carolina Chickadees, Brown Thrashers, Gray Catbird, Eastern Bluebird, Red Bellied Woodpecker, American goldfinch, Chipping Sparrow, White Throated Sparrow, House sparrow, Mourning doves, Common Grackle, Blue Jay, Ruby throated Hummingbird and Yellow rumped warbler Activity 2: Merlin confirmed several sightings listed above with identifying calls. It also "heard" Carolina wrens(which I see all the time just not in this sitting); I like using the app to help me sight birds that may be hidden in trees or brush by identifying their call then searching the area it came from. Very useful Activity 3: Rosebreasted Grosbeak, Purple Martin, yellow billed cuckoo & Indigo bunting - would be thrilled to sight any of these.
    • Amy
      Participant
      Chirps: 3
      Activity 1:  The birds in our area (CO mountains) are finally starting to be active!  I saw a hairy woodpecker, black billed magpies, American crows, black capped chickadees, mountain chickadees, and a Steller's jay in our neighborhood today. Activity 2:  I'm just getting familiar with the Merlin app, but I'm hoping to use it to help me learn to differentiate crows v. ravens by more than their tail shape in flight. Activity 3:  I was surprised by the variety of waterfowl at our local reservoir.  We apparently have gadwalls, green winged teals, common mergansers, Barrow's goldeneyes, and American wigeons.  Time to make a local trip once the weather gets a little nicer!
    • Cheryl
      Participant
      Chirps: 21
      Activity 3: Find five birds that pass through your area that you didn’t know about. I live in Toronto, Ontario, less than a kilometre from the lake. I used "Merlin" to find birds in my area then used "All About Birds" to get more details. Golden-crowed Kinglet - they live here year round and I've never seen one. Common Redpoll - they winter here. Brown Creeper - year round. Common Goldeneye - winter here. White-winged Scoter - breed here.
    • Karen
      Participant
      Chirps: 5
      Activity 2: I've used Merlin photo id before, but never tried "most likely".  Very helpful! Great to have in list form with photos, bar charts and sounds!
    • Kathy
      Participant
      Chirps: 1
      Activity 1: I live in suburban Chicago.  Looking out my window at my feeder I have seen dark eyed juncos, a pair of cardinals, downey woodpeckers, black capped chickadees, starlings, sparrows, and blackbirds.  I don’t stand and watch for long periods of time, but looked several times during the day.  The starlings and blackbirds seemed to gang-up on the others, chasing them out of the feeder.  The juncos, cardinals, sparrows and some blackbirds would then feed on the ground for the seed that had fallen there.  They are especially easy to see because of the snow.  Chickadees and woodpeckers would frequently hang upside-down to feed from the bottom of the cylinder feeder.  I’m looking forward to spring when the hummingbirds return.  There is at least 1 pair that nest in the trees at the back of my yard.
    • Jeanne
      Participant
      Chirps: 3
      I am new to birding other than watching those at the feeders I have at my home. I live on Cape Cod where there are a good number of nature preserves so this past weekend I spent time walking one to try out some new binoculars. The one I chose is a holly preserve with literally thousands of holly bushes and trees most of which were covered in their red berries.  I wasn’t sure what to expect but quickly realized the place was fully of American Robins. Although a very common bird for this area, I was actually pleased to see them since they are good-sized birds making it easy for me to practice zooming in with the binoculars. Upon leaving the preserve I went to a nearby pond where on a recent walk I’d spotted a flock of Cedar Waxwings in the bushes near the water. Gorgeous birds.  On this day with the new binoculars in hand I was delighted to see a number of water fowl on the part of the pond that was not frozen.  I could see there were a number of mallards but then realized there were also quite a few Hooded Mergansers, a beautiful bird I would have completely missed had it not been for the binoculars. A pair of Mute Swans added to the scene, putting on quite a display with their wings outspread.  So, a wonderful first outing as I begin birding beyond my feeders.
    • Jamie
      Participant
      Chirps: 5
      I've seen a lot of birds on my neighborhood walk lately, many id'd with the help of the audio tool on the Merlin app. That tool is amazing! Birds I've seen or heard include: White and gold crowned sparrows, robins, crows, european starlings, titmouse, and bushtits.
    • Jamie
      Participant
      Chirps: 5
      I'm going to do this piece piece, since it's dark out right now and I can't actively bird (except for owls!) I've been exploring common birds in my area. Here are a few I wasn't familiar with: Say's Phoebe (pretty and distinctive call I'll listen for next time I'm at the marsh), hermit thrush - I know this bird, but not sure if I've identified it locally, and the ruby-crowned kinglet - I'd like to identify this bird locally. I think I may have confused it for a Hutton's Vireo in the past.
    • Patty
      Participant
      Chirps: 3
      Activity 3: There are soooo many birds that frequent Los Angeles County that I have yet to see or add to a checklist! Here are some I'm going to be looking out for: Cinnamon Teal Western Grebe Downey Woodpecker Several swallow species - this will be a challenge to learn to identify individual species! California Gnatcatcher (such cute little black hoods! I'm familiar with the blue-gray gnatcatcher but not this one) Western Meadowlark (songs and calls are beautiful and unique - should be helpful)
    • Patty
      Participant
      Chirps: 3
      Activity 1: Today I spent about half an hour birding in a local park in Pasadena, Calif - Hugo Reid Park. I was curious to return here because last month when I first visited this park, I only saw a few birds. Yet I was certain that the time of day wasn't ideal and that there were likely to be many more birds in the area.  I was rewarded with 14 species this morning. Most exciting was a Merlin! It was perched high in a tree across the street. I watched it for a few minutes, trying to discern if it was a Merlin or perhaps a sharp-shinned hawk or something else. I quickly looked it up in the Merlin app and could see that this bird shared many of the characteristics described - dark head, lighter streaked breast/front. When it took off I noticed the rapid wing beat pattern and that clinched it - it WAS a Merlin! Here's a link to my complete checklist: https://ebird.org/checklist/S99577304