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Bird Watching- Methods.


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#1 Vibhandaka

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Posted 23 February 2012 - 10:52 AM

How do you bird watch? Which method works best for you? Do you track birds by sound? Do you sit in one area and just wait for birds to show up? I never know which to do. So far I normally just go and whatever birds I see or hear I track down. Should I be doing something else? 

#2 Photgog

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Posted 23 February 2012 - 11:42 AM

There are many methods to bird watch.  If you are the person that sees a colorful bird when getting into your car to go to work, and say to your self, 'I wonder what is that bird?'  you are a bird watcher and are bird watching.

If you go out to a known area for birds, with your book and Binoculars, wearing a hat and sometimes a Camo vest, and walk around the area, bird watching.  

If you sit by a pond and feed the ducks... bird watching.

If you put up a feeder out the kitchen window... bird watching.

And then there are crazies like me, that go out on long trips with camera in hand, or short trips, with organized groups, or not, sitting or walking... bird watching.

I don't think that there is a 'correct' way, or indeed an incorrect way to bird watch.

Fraser 



#3 cwj2323

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Posted 23 February 2012 - 04:40 PM

Fraser answered this well.  There are so many ways to watch the birds.  

We do a lot of walking and stopping when "out in the field".  I rarely go by myself.  I have realized how much I appreciate the younger eyes and ears of the children.  We live out in the country with the most populated area being a cemetery about a half mile from here.  Cemeteries seem to be good spots for birding.  We've also got a creek nearby and plenty of tall grasses.  It is amazing all we see and hear.

We also meet with the birding club about once a month. We often see birds we will not have around home and the leader always shares info about the birds we see.  He tells us how to tell them apart from similar species.   At least two scopes are available for the long distance birds.   Only recently have we tried the long drives to find a bird, but our limit is about two hours from home.  We really wanted to see that Snowy Owl everyone was talking about.

We also watch the birds from our window.  We have several feeders up.  In the warmer weather, I will sit on the front steps and see what might come close.  It usually isn't too many because the children want to run and play on those nice days.  In the morning hours, I will walk around our property to enjoy the birds that will not come to the feeders. 

There is a book I recently read by Pete Dunne, called The Art of Bird Finding.  I haven't been able to practice all I have read yet, but did learn some good tips for finding birds.  I purchased a CD to learn the bird songs and calls.  That has been a great tool for being able to ID birds. 

Besides enjoying the birds, this is educational for the children.  We squeeze in as much birding time as we are able and have signed up for newsletters to learn of different programs going on.  .  Sometimes I wonder if we have gone a little overboard.  :)


#4 creeker

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Posted 23 February 2012 - 11:50 PM

I am mostly a "run and gun" type of birder. I have hiked as much as 10 miles during one outing. I push along at a pretty hard pace, always looking around and listening. If I end up in a very birdy area, I will slow down and sometimes even sit quietly. I always go by myself and make as little noise as possible. Recently I went looking for some previously spotted rarities. In one instance I actually sat in a folding chair and waited for them to show up. That was a new experience for me.

#5 spyonabird

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Posted 24 February 2012 - 04:58 AM

I am a birdwatcher in the broadest sense of the word.  I have a hard time sitting still so most of the time I "notice" birds while we are hiking or taking the dog for a walk.  That is why most of my photos are crappy.  I am always on the move.  I don't think I have every "chased a rarity"  When we were hiking in the everglades a few years ago, it was as much about the snakes and alligators as it was about the birds,  We saw some cool birds, but we also saw a Cottonmouth, lots of Gators and an Otter.  Oh - and some really cool spiders.

 



#6 illin

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Posted 24 February 2012 - 10:28 AM

I like to go by myself, but like you I was not sure I was doing it right when I first started. One of the things that really helped me when I started out was going birding with some other more experienced birders. It gave me an idea first hand of things I did wrong and things I did right. Local and state birding clubs like Audubon usually have birding walks or field trips scheduled year round. On these trips you will meet many new people, some with decades of experience. Getting into your local birding community can also lead to tips on where to find rare birds and other species you may need for your life list. Joining and becoming active in your state/local birding forum/listserve by sharing your sightings can also be a great way to meet new people and gain local information. Here is a site with links to different state listserves. http://birdingonthe....anarchives.html

To your question, I mainly bird two different ways.

Much of my birding is done from the car. Sometimes this is the only way to bird some really good areas. When looking for raptors, waterfowl, and other groups this is often the most effective way to cover ground. You can bird in any kind of weather from the seat of an automobile. Also sometimes I am just lazy. Usually any time I am driving I am keeping a list that I will later enter into eBird. I live in a fairly rural area where you can pretty much pull over and glass anytime you need to.

The other way I like to bird is when I go and hike for a good distance. Most of the time I am alone because I like to have control over where I want to go and I have a hard time finding anyone in my area that is interested enough in birds and willing to put in the miles. I usually keep a pretty fast pace and go from group of birds to group of birds. I often let my ears guide me from one flock to the next. This is why I like to go places that allow you to go off trail. It is awesome to follow your ears for a couple hours during spring migration in a large tract of public ground and ending up in some deep hollow or open glen far from the sound of human activity. I know I miss some birds by moving as fast as I do but I think that the area covered equals out the birds passed up. I would imagine I stand still for probably 30 minutes for every mile I walk.

 Another tip that is slightly off topic but may help you. One of the ways that I find many species I would like to add to my life list is to scour eBird for data. If you go to this link,  http://ebird.org/ebi...=changeLocation , you can choose states, counties, even down to specific sites and search the ebird records for the different species in a given area. You then can select which species you would like to see records for and you can view a map that pinpoints where sightings of that species have been reported for the area you selected. You can narrow the date down also. Everything from all time, which will give you an idea of what to expect when and where. To what has been seen this month, which will give you an idea of what has been reported lately. Searching these records can be a great way to find birds that may not be common right where you are but may be easily found just a short distance away and what time of year to go look.

Sorry for being long winded and going off on a couple tangents but I can not stress enough how much getting involved in the local birding community and getting out with more experienced birders helped me with my fieldcraft. I also cannot say enough about the effectiveness of eBird in helping a person rack up their life list. Hope my post helped.




#7 ginspin16

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Posted 25 February 2012 - 08:55 AM

i don't think i've ever stood still more than about 5 minutes in one spot.    even if i hear a call, i won't spend more than a few minutes looking for it before i give up. 

 

i know i would see more birds if i had more patience ....



#8 JimBob

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Posted 25 February 2012 - 12:32 PM

I sit and wait or chase birds by sound. It depends on the time of year, and the habitat. 

During spring migration I often sit and wait, knowing that I will probably see a lot of birds. In the summer I like to chase after the birds.

Habitat wise, if it is a creek I like to sit and wait because birds will come to take a bath or get a drink. In the woods I often chase birds. and if it is a lake I will also wait.

But like many others have said, there are so many ways to bird watch. I myself think that anyway works well.  



#9 Kaysei

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Posted 25 February 2012 - 01:05 PM

I've started taking my camera with me when I go to the mailbox....and the dog pen...and to get something out of the truck....and to work....and to the grocery store, etc. etc. etc..  I'm always trying to get a picture of something different.  I have learned to recognize quite a few birds by sound, and I'll try to track them down most of the time.

#10 LauraC

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Posted 29 February 2012 - 03:54 AM

In the winter months, I go to the community college on a Sunday morning, and feed the birds and take photos.  Since it is a community college there are no students or teachers on campus on a Sunday.  It is surrounded by woods and brush and quite bare in the winter.  I get out of my car to scatter seed, bread, peanuts (in a shell) and small red grapes.  Then I sit in my car and photograph the ones who come -- blue jays for the peanuts, bread and seed, mockingbirds and brown thrashers for the grapes, wrens for the bread, towhees, assorted sparrows, mourning doves, cardinals, titmice, chickadees for assorted seed.  Occasionally, a field mouse, starlings and various woodpeckers show up.  I hang suet from one of the trees, too.  As long as I sit there in my car, the crows stay away but as soon as I leave, they show up to eat so I try to sit there for at least 3 - 4 hours taking photos from the driver's side window to keep the crows away.  The crows break open the peanuts where they find them and leave a mess but the blue jays pick up the peanuts they like and take them to a tree to crack them open.  I'm not good with sound but in the winter I don't have to be.  I can easily see them.  In the early Spring, all of the pink blossomed trees come out and I'll sit there for hours hoping either a common grackle or European starling will sit in one long enough for me to get a photo. I'm about 8 - 10 feet from the birds. There are also bluebirds, cedar waxwings and tree swallows in the area but they don't take the food I lay out.  In the afternoon I head over to the lake (just down the road from the college) and photograph seagulls in flight, also from my car.  They are only here for the winter months.  The geese and ducks are there, too, and are quite aggressive.  They will tap on my car for food and have even jumped on the hood of my car. Everybody feeds them so as soon as a car shows up, they walk over to it.

I'm not sure but I think I am successful sitting close to the birds in my car because in both locations (the community college and the lake) they are used to seeing a lot of cars.  I live in an apartment complex in suburbia and don't have a yard so I have to go to the birds.






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