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The HubPages Birdwatcher's Club: Watching the Birds, Part 2

Updated on October 18, 2012
Map of Boomer Lake, Stillwater, Oklahoma With the "Hot Spots"
Map of Boomer Lake, Stillwater, Oklahoma With the "Hot Spots" | Source

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.

Great Blue Heron
Great Blue Heron | Source

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?

Bird Checklist from Park in Erie, PA
Bird Checklist from Park in Erie, PA | Source
Birds in Park in Erie, PA
Birds in Park in Erie, PA | Source

Birding Checklists

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.

Northern Cardinal
Northern Cardinal | Source

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!

Canada Goose with Mallards
Canada Goose with Mallards | Source

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.

If Anybody Wants the Boomer Lake Map

Please let me know by sending me an e-mail with your e-mail addy, and I will send you by return e-mail a larger copy of the Boomer Lake map with all the hot spots discussed in the "Life at Boomer Lake with Deb," weekly column.

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    • aviannovice profile imageAUTHOR

      Deb Hirt 

      6 years ago from Stillwater, OK

      Thanks, Johan. The hardest part is piecing it together so that it will make sense to everybody.

    • Johan Smulders profile image

      Johan Smulders 

      6 years ago from East London, South Africa

      Excellent introduction to birding!

    • aviannovice profile imageAUTHOR

      Deb Hirt 

      6 years ago from Stillwater, OK

      Thanks, KEV. We nall need to share information all over the work like this.

    • aviannovice profile imageAUTHOR

      Deb Hirt 

      6 years ago from Stillwater, OK

      shiningirisheyes, you will see a lot of odd things this year, since we had an early spring. Everything seemed to be about 2 weeks ahead of schedule. I see that you live in a northerly region, but fall migration doesn't usually start until August, so it is POSSIBLE that the goose clock is 2 weeks ahead of schedule here, too, due to the earlier migration. Also, when geese settle somewhere for a while, they also become part of other "families," if you will, when it comes to flying together, so your group could have been part of that. Just keep me posted, and let me know when the migrant geese in your area leave.

    • KEV84 profile image

      KEV84 

      6 years ago from UK

      Fantastic hubs about birds. Easy to read, hugely informative and of vital importance.

    • shiningirisheyes profile image

      Shining Irish Eyes 

      6 years ago from Upstate, New York

      I was under the impression geece only grouped together and flew during migriation from or to a warmer climate. I observed a very large group flying in formation and wondered why or if this is normal at any time?

    • aviannovice profile imageAUTHOR

      Deb Hirt 

      6 years ago from Stillwater, OK

      Grace, the information is of interest to allow of us birders that are interconnected. Let me tell you why. With the storms, the winds, the Gulf Stream, and the changing weather, many birds are appearing everywhere that don't belong in certain areas. We naturalists are the first to know that, so it is very important. Also, Jane Goodall was way ahead of her time, and it doesn't matter what her education was. She looks outside the box, which really is the key in anything. Glad that you're having fun with this material.

    • aviannovice profile imageAUTHOR

      Deb Hirt 

      6 years ago from Stillwater, OK

      whonunuwho, I will definitely be looking at all your material as soon as I can. You have a lot of good material there that I want to read.

    • graceomalley profile image

      graceomalley 

      6 years ago

      I know that these lists are personal, but I can't help thinking that all this information may be of some interest to bird researchers. Perhaps they can't use it because it is not collected accorded to definite scientific method. I understand and respect scientific method, but then it sometimes does seem to get in the way. I personally think that the reason Jane Goodall has been able to make such groundbreaking discoveries in animalbehavior is because she had no formal science education when she went out into the field. Her family did not have the money to send her to college, so she trained as a secretary. I read recently in a book called 'Wesley the Owl' that Jane Goodall is now doing research in animals responding to mental pictures. This is the sort of thinking outside the box that the scientifically educated sometimes IMO get trained out of. I've tried this with my cockatiels with some success (One wasn't grooming his partner, and she wouldn't let me groom her, so I kept picturing him grooming her.)

      I am wandering all over in this comment - really enjoyed the hub.

    • whonunuwho profile image

      whonunuwho 

      6 years ago from United States

      Please see Wild Wings, so Beautiful

    • whonunuwho profile image

      whonunuwho 

      6 years ago from United States

      Creatures Wild of Fur and Feather, Wild Birds, The Wild, The Beautiful,Wild Birds of Autumn, and several more in my list of hubs, thanks for your response.

    • aviannovice profile imageAUTHOR

      Deb Hirt 

      6 years ago from Stillwater, OK

      Yes, whonunuwho, the weather, the Gulf Stream, tsunamis, and the pull of the moon and sun seem to have major effects on birds and where they tend to appear. I think we'll be in for a good many surprises. Do you have any photos of your paintings?

    • whonunuwho profile image

      whonunuwho 

      6 years ago from United States

      I have always enjoyed watching birds and do paint them on occasion. I have often wondered if the changes in climate and weather patterns may have changed the basic fly ways of migratory birds. I have noticed Robins early in march in the South and out in the mid west, there seems to be less this time of the year. There are plenty of wild ducks and Geese here and in the southern states, much less. More Egrets and Herons in the southern shores and less in the mid west lakes and streams.

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