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The HubPages Birdwatcher's Club: Watching the Birds, Part 2
Why Watch Birds?
Here’s a little more information on this topic to consider and perhaps implement a few more related items. Some birders like to make a list of the birds that they have seen at home at their feeders, in their neighborhoods or towns, and sometimes, in their states. There are other people that might vacation in specific parts of the country, as well, just to discover new birds. Then there are other birders that travel the world for the same purpose. I know several people that do this: professional and semi-professional photographers that specialize in birds, scientists, those that enjoy traveling to interesting locales to combine the trip with the love of birding, and people that have the need to complete their life list.
How to Record Your Birding Information
Some people that casually watch birds don’t bother keeping a list of the birds that they see. That is enough for them. Most birdwatchers do, and some will even make lists of these lists that they retain. These lists will keep a permanent record of your sightings, refresh your memory, and make comparisons on a yearly basis, for example. You can keep your lists in a notebook or computerize them. There are many sites out there where you can use checklists any day of the year. This is the next most important tool after your birding guide and your binoculars. It can be as elaborate or as simple as you wish. I have known people that have made detailed bird drawings and colored them in, with specific notes on where they were seen, the time of day, weather conditions, so on and so forth. There are many notebooks to choose from: expensive, leather bound books, waterproof covered books, inexpensive spiral bound, or the college ruled composition book. I guarantee you that your book will be rained upon, or dropped in the mud or in a puddle. If you don’t get a waterproof book, keep it in a Ziploc bag to protect it. Also carry plenty of pens and pencils to record pictures of unidentified birds, their behaviors, and field marks. You might even want to include sketches of local flowers and animals, directions to your favorite spots, anything that you think you might need later. You could meet another birder and would like to contact him or her in the future. Keep and treasure your invaluable notebook. It will be torn, smudged, dirty, but it is your birding history. You might have a legacy to pass on to your kids or grandkids. Who knows what the future might hold?
Many parks, wildlife refuges, and bird sanctuaries provide checklists of the birds found in those particular areas. One can obtain state lists from fish and wildlife, fish and game departments, as well as local bird organizations in your state or the state(s) or countries that you visit. There are spaces to record the date, time and weather, sometimes more information. The lists are usually organized by family and species, as well as whether or not the bird is a seasonal, permanent, or semi-permanent resident. There are check boxes for whether or not the bird is common, rare, etc. Never throw away this record that you have used, for it could be the basis for your life list. You might not think it is important now, but it could be later, and you will surely kick yourself for not keeping it.
Your Personal Life List
What is this life list? It is specifically that: a record of all the birds that you have seen to the present date. A life bird, or lifer, is one that you have seen for the very first time in your birdwatcher’s career.
You could keep lists of birds that come to eat at your feeders. If you are physically challenged, don’t think that you cannot be a birdwatcher. You can! Many birdwatchers keep lists of birds seen on a single day, like for the Christmas Bird Count, breeding birds, spring and fall migrations, or anything else that you could think about. Don’t forget, that there are no rules in this sport. You are free to make your own!
How to Attract Birds
By the way, birds can be attracted in the field by imitating their sounds, and some people are very good at doing this. If you aren’t as good as that, there are whistles and other bird callers. You can also “pish”, by making hissing sounds that mimic the distress calls of some birds. Sometimes birds will show up when they hear these sounds simply out of curiosity. Unless one really doesn’t care what others think, you might want to reserve these suggestions for when you know that you are definitely alone out there in the field. Birdwatchers understand, but the average person not stricken by the bird bug, doesn’t. Just wanted to give you fair warning.
If you have a Wild Birds Unlimited, or any other specific wild bird supply/seed store, one can purchase recordings of bird songs/sounds on CD to familiarize yourself with some of these vocalizations. If you have money to burn, there is elaborate recording equipment out there, too, but it also makes for less to carry if you don’t.
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