Last spring we set out to make our own personal guide to local wildflowers. It was meant to be in part a pictorial guide to help us remember the flowers names on future walks, but it was also a sort of collection. It became an big event to find and add a new flower.
So in that vein, we recently set out to make a similar guide to birds.
All the birds in this post were spotted and identified between last Sunday and today, all within about a 2 mile radius of our house. Most were right in our own yard!
There were several too that were too fast and/or too far away for us to get a good photo… a Downy Woodpecker, White Winged and Mourning Doves, A Great Blue Heron, A Black Crested Titmouse, an American Robin, a few Killdeer, some Mallard duck pairs, a Blue Jay and A Carolina Wren…
Plus a very sweet male and female pair of Northern Cardinals that seem to always be very nearby. We have our suspicions that they may be thinking on nesting in a bush very close to our school room window.
Needless to say all crossable parts are firmly crossed in hopes of future egg and hatchling excitement.
If you’re hoping to do a little bird gazing of your own (perhaps for the impending Great Backyard Bird Count?), here are a few resources that we’ve found very helpful.
1. Our go-to field guides are the Golden Guides, in this case Birds, Pond Life and Birds of Prey have come into play. They are not the most detailed books (not a lot of scientific information about each species), but they are so great for young people. They have enough good information without being overwhelming.
2. There’s a lot of great information in Texas Parks and Wildlife’s Introducing Birds to Young Naturalists. You can read it online or order it bound.
3. For Texas folks, there’s also this really neat downloadable book, “Learn About Texas Birds.”
4. The Cornell Lab of Ornithology’s site, AllAboutBirds.com is an incredible resource. You can find not only photos of just about ever imaginable bird, searchable by name/shape or taxonomy, but also video and SOUND! We are trying to learn the sounds of the birds that we see most frequently, and we’ve gotten pretty good at it. I’ve always wanted to walk through the woods and know the birds by their songs!
5. Also from the Cornell Lab of Ornithology –
6. Last, if you don’t already have one, I can’t recommend enough investing in a bird feeder to keep near a window. We started with this one, on our school room window and have since added a shepherd’s hook with a feeder like this one and a suet feeder. We use safflower seed in our feeders because the squirrels leave it alone, and it seems to draw a nice variety of birds.
We have also recently put up this nesting material in the hopes that our cardinals will use it.
We had a lot of hummingbird visitors last year, and this material is fine enough for their tastes as well. Last year we made our own little bag of nest offerings, and something (we think a dove) carried the whole thing up to her nest! So whether you buy or make, be sure you attach it firmly!
Happy birding, and happy weekending too, friends!