Have trouble putting down your smartphone? Have no fear – technology is a great resource for birding! With field guide, listing and identification apps, it has never been easier to go birding.
Everyone has a preferred field guide (Peterson, Sibley, National Geographic, etc.) and many guides now offer an app. This makes it a bit easier on your back, since you no longer must lug a big field guide on the trail. These apps also have information about birds that may be unavailable in the books. Many include pictures and drawings, so you have many perspectives to help you identify a bird. Some of the apps also include bird calls!
eBird is a great way to keep track of all the birds you see in the field. Based on lists you make in the field on your phone or computer back home, eBird builds your birding history. This free Cornell Lab of Ornithology program allows you to organize your bird life history by location, time frame and species! There is seemingly no limit with how this information can be organized and used!
iNaturalist is not just for birding – as it can give you a hand identifying all living things! Post a picture through the app or website and state your location, and your sighting may be identified by experts around the world. And if your picture is clear enough, the program’s “identotron” might just identify it for you, which suggests edits based on the picture and location.
These different apps and websites are great for helping you bird in the field, but don’t forget about paper and pencil! Sometimes old-school nature journaling and listing is great too.
Every hobby and activity have their own terminology, or jargon. Birding is no different, out in the field you may hear terms like “twitching”, “dipped” and “vagrants”. Here are a few commonly used birding terms that will make you sound like a pro!
Nemesis Bird (noun): a bird species that constantly eludes a specific birder.
Example: For much of my life, my nemesis bird was prothonotary warblers. Every time I went looking for them … I couldn’t find them!
Pish (verb): using their mouth, birders make a noise that sounds like pishhhhh to try and attract songbirds into the open.
Example: I could hear the birds in the trees but couldn’t see any so I pished to draw them out.
Butterbutt (noun): a nickname for yellow-rumped warblers.
Example: “Did you see all the butterbutts up in the oaks?”
Christmas Bird Count
We are about a month away from the annual Christmas Bird Count! But what’s it all about?
It all started in 1900 with ornithologist Frank M. Chapman, who proposed a holiday tradition of counting birds. Before this, it was holiday tradition to go out, hunt as many birds as possible and whoever shot the most birds won. This was known as the Christmas “Side Hunt.” But with Chapman’s innovative idea, the CBC was born. These early CBC conservationists created what has become the longest citizen science project.
You can join in by finding a CBC “circle” that you want to participate in! The upcoming worldwide Christmas Bird Count will take place from December 14, 2018 – January 5, 2019. Once you have found a count circle that works for you, contact the compiler and get involved. Be prepared for a long day out in the field counting birds, while doing your part to conserve some incredible species!