Friday, April 1, 2011

Get up, Get Out, Go Birding

These are the days of crisp mornings and mild afternoons. The redbuds have bloomed and their heart shaped leaves are now replacing their flowers. Dogwoods splash their white flowers throughout the forest. The oaks are decorated with new leaves. Daffodils have come and gone. Bluebonnets, Paintbrush and Evening Primrose line the highways and country roads.

The Sandhill Cranes honking high overhead are now a distant memory. Some ducks are still on the ponds, but most have headed north. The same is true for Snow Geese, Canadas and other Anserines.

Though the Goldfinches are on their way north, Pine Siskins still frequent the feeders. They are joined by Chipping Sparrows, Titmouses, Chickadees, and Cardinals. Red Bellied and Downy Woodpeckers gather at the peanut feeders. In the trees, Black and White Warblers dance about. Carolina Wrens are actively seeking nesting places.

Still, it’s time. Get up; get out; go birding! Grab your best binoculars, field guide, and gear. Take to the forest for the Pileated Woodpeckers and Pine Warblers. On the forest/field edges the Eastern Bluebirds you’ll find. Walk the path along a stream and you might hear a Kingfisher or glimpse a Prothonotary Warbler. Take to the wetlands for Marsh Wrens, Greater Yellowlegs, Little Green Herons, and Great Egrets. Seek the lake and find shorebirds as well as the Osprey, Bald Eagle, Cormorant, and Ringed Billed Gull.

Beyond our doorsteps are the pleasure we all seek, the solace we all need, and the wonder we have required since childhood. Birding is akin to discovery as well as saying hello to an old friend. An accomplished birder revels as much as the novice in seeking and finding a new species to add to his life list. Likewise, the accomplished and the novice can be found grinning at the sight of a bird with which they are equally familiar.

The experience can be enhanced by the good friendship of a companion and the good natured banter during the identification of an unusual sighting. Yet, time alone enjoying creation has its allure. There are the serendipitous events, too. Once, this author walked along a path thinking he was alone and came upon an older gentleman. The man stood in the middle of the path, hand out. In his hand was some bird seed and sitting on his thumb was a Chestnut Backed Chickadee. And yes, this author added a new bird to his life list.

The opportunities are limited only by you, your time, and your imagination. Find a friend, a group, or go by yourself. Enjoy the moment, celebrate the day. Go!

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