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

    • Jill
      Participant
      Chirps: 6
      I just love this course! I used eBird to find local hotspots and decided to try birdwatching at Hamlin Beach State Park in New York. When I was exploring the variety of species spotted at Hamlin Beach by previous birdwatchers, I noticed an interesting bird-the Red-breasted Merganser. I was determined to find that bird! When I arrived at Hamlin Beach along Lake Ontario, I spotted Ring-billed Gulls, Canada Geese, Mallards, Swallows, Robins, Warblers, and Red-winged Blackbirds-but no Merganser.  I continued to hike along the shore line, determined not to give up. Then I spotted three small bird heads, bobbing in the waves. I lifted my binoculars and, behold, three Red-breasted Mergansers (two females and one male). I enjoyed watching them float on the waves and dive for dinner.  Success!
    • Lesley
      Participant
      Chirps: 7
      Activity 1. A startlingly large bird with pigeon-like features arrived at my backyard feeder this week. I was familiar with the Eurasian Collared Doves we see here (Vancouver Island, coastal) but this was clearly larger and had different features: yellow beak and feet, small head in comparison to the body, white cowl at the neck, lovely soft grey and taupe feathers. Merlin ID: Band-tailed Pigeon -- and fairly common here next to the forest, but this was my first sighting of this bird ever in my 50+ years of bird watching!
    • Patrick
      Participant
      Chirps: 8
      While watching birds outdoors I was able to positively identify a Downy Woodpecker and a house wren moving into a bird box.  Also a common robin and multiple Bluejays.
    • Vashti
      Participant
      Chirps: 5
      1. In my yard, there are robins, white throated sparrows, juncos, chickadees, and tree sparrows.  Ravens and harriers often fly overhead.  A pair of mallards have been hanging out in our dugout, which will probably dry up by August, so i hope they move on to find a better place to nest.  There are also several little songbirds ( sparrows or warblers) darting through the trees, but they won't stay still for long enough for me to get a good look at them!
    • Aixa
      Participant
      Chirps: 5
      During an afternoon walk in woods near were I live, I spotted a few Eastern Bluebirds. I have never seen them. I did not have the binoculars with me (???) I made mental notes of their behavior and appearance and later used Merlin to ID. I hope to go back to the same spot soon with binoculars this time so that I can verify my initial ID. I was able to stand pretty close to were they were perching to get a good look, which surprised me.
    • Katie
      Participant
      Chirps: 1
      I have been seeing Baltimore orioles(only 2) at my feeder in mn
      • Patrick
        Participant
        Chirps: 8
        I have two at my feeder a Male and a female. Its amazing how different a Males and females are.
    • Ellory
      Participant
      Chirps: 1
      IMG_9599 I saw two Rose-breasted Grosbeaks at my feeder in Seneca, SC, near Lake Keowee. I have never seen them here before. Usually the feeder is overrun with cardinals, house finches, black-capped chickadees, red-headed woodpeckers, tufted titmice and the occasional cowbird.
    • Martha
      Participant
      Chirps: 3
      I've been spending my morning work meeting watching my bird feeders instead of paying attention haha. This morning I saw what looked like a young blue tit, along with a couple of wood pigeons and a beautiful great spotted woodpecker (photo from a few days ago, this one's a regular visitor). IMG_20200516_202643
    • Sam
      Participant
      Chirps: 4
      I've been observing birds on my feeder for the last week or so (they just found it yay!).  The first species to come enjoy a treat were the lesser gold finches, which usually come in pairs and one acts like a lookout.  I have also recently been seeing some more house finches who come earlier in the morning.  I observed a bird I did not recognize but didn't get a great look but was making some interesting calls so I used an app called song slueth to get some likely species then looked up further info on ebird to determine it was the California towhee.  Also saw an oak titmouse which is a little cutie.  More bird friends please!
    • Activity 1: Backyard - Observed some of the regulars: House finch, California Towhee, Black Phoebe, Mourning dove. But had a couple of new ones with yellow markings...after consultation with a field guide and the merlin app, identified one as a House finch with yellow where most have the red to orange, and the other as a Lesser goldfinch.
    • Sharon
      Participant
      Chirps: 1
      Activity 1: MidCoast Maine shoreline. Mid-evening sighting of Double-crested Cormorant, Great Black Backed Gull, Herring Gull, male & female Osprey. Gulls & Cormorant we’re feeding. Male Osprey repairing nest. Working to improve my skill at identifying various Gulls. Used Merlin to assist in Gull ID
    • STUART
      Participant
      Chirps: 8
      Activity 1 Source: Cornell Feeder Cam Following species observed 05/17/2020 1420 DST: Blue Jay -Cyanocitta cristata Mourning Dove (2) - Zenaida macroura Common Grackle -Quiscalas quiscula Northern Cardinal - Cardinalus cardinalus Downy Woodpecker - Picoides pubesceus Activity 2 Great Blue Heron - Ardea hernias Scarlet Tanager - Paranga olivacea Northern Bobwhite - Colinus virginians Activity 3 Brown Trasher - Taxostuma rufum -appears to be nested in a Black Haw bush near our home. It has a distinct warning sound when the cat or dog comes out on the porch. Very protective and appears to be trying to decoy away from the nesting site (image below) Northern Harrier -Circus cyaneus -this appears only to be a passing visitor. Last year it appeared in late March and stayed in the area for about 6 weeks. This year again in March but was only seen once or twice in an open field to the south of our home. Its call was distinctly different from the other raptor  here. Rose Breasted Grosbeak - Pheudicus ludovicianus -the range chart does not show it breeding here but it clearly passed through (photo included). I did not get this photo at my feeder, credit a neighbor but I was able to identify it with the help of an Audobon member friend.  We believe it is only here for a week or two heading north.IMG_0198IMG_0226
    • Karen
      Participant
      Chirps: 11
      Acitivy 1: This week I was able to identify a couple new birds with the help of my new camera, Merlin, a friend and a naturalist facebook page.  The new birds I identified: A Barrows Golden Eye duck (camera and Merlin); an American Pippit (camera and naturalist fb page); Dark Eyed Junco (camera and naturalist FB page).  I was able to identify osprey by their sound. I hear many song birds but can't identify them by their sound yet. Except for the Western Meadowlark. activity 3: Birds I didn't know are in my area: Trumpeter Swan; The Mourning Dove; Rufous Hummingbird; Calliope Hummingbird; Sandhill Crane. The bar chart feature is very useful.
    • Mary Alice Smith
      Participant
      Chirps: 4
      I have been watching two hawks at a local park, where both may be nesting. I used my bird guide to identify a red-tailed hawk and a Cooper's Hawk. I also was able to distinguish between a blue-headed vireo and a red-eyed vireo both by their song and their markings.
    • Nicole
      Participant
      Chirps: 10
      Watching in Westchester County, NY. 1. I have a couple of feeders and at them I have been seeing mallards, starlings (who fight with each other constantly), tufted titmouse, Carolina wren, grackles, red-winged blackbirds, mourning doves, cardinals, house and chipping sparrows, hairy, downy and red-bellied woodpeckers, robins and black capped chickadees. I have trying to observe "pecking order" as well. I also saw an American goldfinch but he did not make his way to the feeder. I was lucky enough the other day to spot a Baltimore Oriole which I had never seen before- it was so beautiful, what an amazing orange color. I also can hear Canada geese most hours of the day as there are wetlands behind me. 2. According to Merlin I am most likely to see these but also a wood duck, bufflehead, loon, variety of flycatchers, eastern bluebird, and northern mockingbird. 3. Birds I would to be introduced to and did not know might come my way...yellow-throated vireo, blue-winged warbler, black and white warbler, American redstart and a Northern Parula. DSCN4169DSCN4090DSCN4037
      • Mary
        Participant
        Chirps: 3
        Your photographs are beautiful.
    • Lisa
      Participant
      Chirps: 13
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    • Lisa
      Participant
      Chirps: 13
      1. Watching for 15  minutes at my feeders, I saw the little House Sparrow couple, madly feeding their never-satisfied children in my birdhouse. I saw the Black-Capped Chickadee at the front feeder; they like to hang out in the Snowball tree due to it being riddled with some kind of horrible worm. I saw the American Robin in his plucky, aggressive bug finding mood. I saw the Dark-eyed Junco hopping around under the feeders, snapping up whatever the House Sparrow throws down at him. Of course, there were also the American Crows out in the front yard. 2. Most likely to spot in my area: American Robin, Black Capped Chickadee, American Crow and Spotted Towhee. I spot them all the time. 3. Using Range map to find out about birds I don't know: Common Yellowthroat, Black-headed Grosbeak, Wilson's Warbler, Orange Crowned Warbler and Chestnut backed Chickadee.  I don't believe I ever seen these or maybe I just didn't realize it. Now I want to!
    • Anne
      Participant
      Chirps: 1
      I used Merlin to identify a Blue Grosbeak at my feeder. I later was able to identify a female Blue Grosbeak as well. Merlin made it so easy. This was a first sighting at our feeder which made it quite exciting. He has been hanging out for several days.
    • Sarah
      Participant
      Chirps: 8
      Activity 1: I just put up my first bird feeder today! I watched it, and there was some but not too much activity.  Hopefully the birds I saw will spread the word to others! I saw a gold finch, and another bird with reddish coloring around it's head/chest area and brownish/gray the rest.  By the time I got my binoculars out to get a closer look it was gone, but I wasn't sure if it was maybe a juvenile or female cardinal, or a house finch. Activity 2: I was honestly amazed when I looked at Merlin's most likely list for my area-there were way more species than I thought there would be! Many are birds I would expect by the lake shore but not right in my neighborhood.  Listening to the sounds-one song I recognized but hadn't known which bird it was is the Northern Cardinal! Activity 3: I used ebird to look at birds at a nearby hotspot, and I read about the Ruby Crowned Kinglet, Veery, Bonaparte's Gull, Hooded Merganser, and Black billed Cuckoo.
    • Andrea
      Participant
      Chirps: 1
      I go to the Ravine in Central Park almost every day. Yesterday I used Merlin to identify a gray cowbird, yellow-throated warbler, northern cardinal, blue jay,  & house sparrow.
    • Valerie
      Participant
      Chirps: 1
      Using the Cornell Live Cam, I identified Black capped Chickadee, male Cardinal, Red-winged Blackbird, Blue Jay, Common Grackle, Hairy Woodpecker, and Baltimore Oriole. In my yard, I spotted a Rose-breasted Grosbeak.
    • Suzette
      Participant
      Chirps: 1
      IMG_20200310_141330Anna's hummingbirds are abundant in my neighborhood in Sunnyvale, California. I've since had to move this feeder and I've had several birds stop by looking for it. It's just one story below. These are the birds I saw most in March, but since I've seen mourning doves and crows nearby. In fact, there's a nest of doves in the rain gutter above me. The crows have definitely been pestering them. I've noticed several flycatchers from this balcony, but haven't been able to identify them.   IMG_20200508_145517We went to take a look at goslings at at a lake nearby and spotted a grackle among them! First time I've ever identified a grackle. A beautiful bird. And though there were several PROMINENT signs admonishing people not to, a woman was feeding crackers to a groups of aggressive Canadian geese.
    • Richard
      Participant
      Chirps: 20
      Local  Bird Exploration, Activity 2, Using Merlin's list of birds nearby   I developed a visit plan to two spots nearby in Estero FL. Before I left I sorted Merlin for the most likely to see on the first few pages as its default look unmanageable (100+ by type).It turned out to be mostly correct.  As I drove tot the first spot (River Park) a boat tailed grackle flew by.  I went to the river first where I saw an Osprey and a Common Crow fly by but no wading birds or ducks.  Walking back to my car was a small clearing in the shrubs of about 30' in diameter with lots of butterflies.  While looking at them a pair of cardinals came by: see first photo below. Cardinal Pair A bluejay came by but failed to get his picture taken. Next stop was a spot my wife told me "always has lots of white birds.  There are two ponds part of the irrigation system and interconnected ponds for our golf course.  A brown thrasher flew by as I was walking over the grass to get closer to a small group of wading birds about 500' away.  As there are several large alligators around and it is the beginning of mating season, I did not go as close as I might have in January. The birds largely stayed in the same place and I took several photos over a few minutes.  My 150X telephoto on Olympus E-M1 helped me see things when I got back to my computer that I didn't see with my bare vision.  The first grouping has a little blue heron and a great egret and several ibis.  What I hadn't seen before was the snowy egret landing. Black beak and yellow feet were visible by chance in the landing.great-snowy-littleB-ibisA few minutes later the great heron was gone but the little blue and ibis were joined by what I had always thought were coots but today learned they were common gallinules.  The long green legs identify the female as such.  My homework for tonight is to figure out what a gallinule is all about.Little blue IBIS gallinule
    • Mary Ann
      Participant
      Chirps: 13
      Using Merlin’s most likely birds in my area of Westchester County, NY, I have seen the following birds: Grackles, European Starlings, Red-Winged Blackbirds, Baltimore Oriole, Double-Crested Cormorants, Mourning Doves, and one Goldfinch. I used Merlin to see that the Baltimore Oriole migrates from the south and breeds in the north. The double-crested cormorants live year-round in Florida, migrate from the south, and breed mostly in the northern mid-west. The goldfinch is found year- round here in New York, but breeds in Canada- interesting!
    • Barbara
      Participant
      Chirps: 2
      Looking at my bird feeder, here in Rhode Island, I have seen many American Goldfinches, some house finch and a song sparrow.  So I did not know what they were except the  goldfinch and feel good I now can recognize the song sparrow and house finch.  Thanks you for this course.