So there’s no school and we can’t go to the movies, what to do?
BIRDING: The perfect activity for social distancing!
And it’s spring! The best time of the year to observe and hear birds! Not only do we have many of our year-round birds, it’s migration time and each week will bring new birds coming back for nesting season or passing through to other nesting areas.
Identifying birds is fun, but can also be intimidating. Start with a few birds you are already familiar with and build on that. There are lots of field guides, and even some apps you can add to your smart phone. Here are a couple of great apps and they are free!
BIRD IN YOUR YARD
You don’t have to go anywhere to see birds, just look out your window. Birds are everywhere! Set up a bird feeding station, it’s a wonderful way to entice even more birds to your yard.
How many different species can you find? Keep a checklist!
Start a project studying just one species. American Robins are frequent yard birds, spend some time watching these birds; how do they move, what do they eat, do they all look the same? What sounds do they make and when do they make them?
Here is one resource for bird feeding tips: www.audubon.org/news/11-tips-feeding-backyard-birds
Spend some time in the great outdoors!
Social distancing is easy at one of the many parks or natural areas in our county. And all are amazing places to observe birds. If you have binoculars and feel comfortable using them, throw them in the car, but it’s not necessary. Birds are everywhere and can be seen - and heard without them!
Go at different times of the day. What differences do you observe, what birds do you see or hear, what are they doing?
Try going to Pammel Park or Jensen Marsh at sunrise, and then again mid day or when the sun is about to set. You will be amazed at the different birds that can be seen or heard at different times during the day.
Don’t forget to look up and always listen! You will hear many birds before you see them.
GO OUTSIDE AT NIGHT
Did you know that most songbirds migrate at night? Go outside some still, clear night, close your eyes and listen. Can you hear them? If you have binoculars and the moon is bright, point them at the moon, if you’re lucky you might spot some! While you are outside, don’t forget to listen for owls!
You can follow bird migration in real time at https://birdcast.info.
It’s not just the Decorah eagles that have a webcam! You can sneak a peak at everything from barred owls to Bermuda petrels here: https://www.allaboutbirds.org/cams.
These are just a few ideas to fill all of your magical spring time hours with the wonderful world of birds!