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  • Allan Wilson
    As a backyard birder I am familiar with a dozen or so regulars, and half a dozen spring migrants who drop in for a day or days.  Some of the birds are in pairs, and so we get to know them individually (downey and hairy woodpeckers, cardinals, orioles, robins) while others form flocks (goldfinches (spring), house sparrows (by spring, 15 to 20, by fall, 40+).  Close knowledge of a limited set of birds provides a good measuring stick when observing birds in parks, on the waterfront, and so on.  The house and barn swallows in the waterfront parks, for example, are bigger than goldfinches, infinitely elegant flyers, easily identified by their forked tails and differentiated by breast colours.  I find binoculars are mostly unnecessary - the home birds are close, the park birds fly close if you stay still long enough.  Not particularly interested in lists, either.  Just find birds endlessly interesting.
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