Monday, May 28, 2007

Introducing Someone To Birding

Sunday, I met up with my sister Kelly at Machimoudus Park in East Haddam . This was Kelly's first time birding. The only birds she was familiar with, were those that she had seen at her bird feeders.

I tried to keep the trip simple. We focused on birds that made themselves most available for viewing. Kelly really enjoyed nice view of Scarlett Tanager, Eastern Kingbird, Yellow-billed Cuckoo, Baltimore Orioles, Rose-breasted Grosbeak,Tree Swallows, Eastern Phoebe, and Eastern Bluebirds just to name a few. We also focused on listening to the songs of: Wood Thrush, Eastern Wood-Pewee (listen to their song if you've never heard it), Black-throated Green Warbler, and the Red-bellied Woodpecker.
The only pictures I took Sunday were of this Eastern Kingbird -(Tyrannus tyrannus). It is a large dark flycatcher of open areas. I found it interesting to read that they can be very aggressive toward nest predators. They regularly attack much larger birds such as hawks and crows!

We had a great time Sunday. It was a bit of a cloudy day, but the rain held off. Kelly is looking forward to another birding trip.

Things you may want to consider if you're bringing someone on their first bird walk:
  • Make sure the person you are bringing has a pair of binoculars that will work for birding. It may be a good idea to bring along an extra pair as well.
  • Focus on getting good looks at birds. Don't worry about finding the uncommon ones.
  • Spend some time listening to birds as well as seeing them. Assure the person that they need not learn every song. Just learn the songs of common birds and track down songs that you don't recognize.
  • Bring along a field guide so that you can point out what you are seeing and hearing.
  • pick a location that you are familiar with to make it easier to find the birds.
  • Don't over do it. Keep the trip short and sweet.
  • Give the person a list of birds seen or heard, so they can look them up later if they want to.

These are just a few quick tips.-Can you think of any more ? Have you ever introduced someone to their first birding experience, or do you recall your first time birding?


Anonymous said...

Excellent suggestions! I usually bring a sack with a couple of different field guides, so we can compare. Different folks have different preferences, and if the beginner hasn't purchased one yet, having several to look at in the field can be very helpful to them in making a choice.

Jayne said...

Larry, I only hope I have someone as patient as you were when I go on my first outing. Great suggestions!

Mary said...

Larry, you are the type I'd like to have on my first bird outing. I hope your sister Kelly continues to enjoy it.

Cathy said...

What a great brother! And what great planning! My only suggestion would be something yummy to snack on in order to keep your energy up :0)

Larry said...

Jennifer-good suggestion-I added that in as we actually did use one.

Jayne-I'm waiting on that first outing report!

Mary-I hope so too-thanks.

Cathy-Good idea-I'd like to bring a whole breakfast with me.

RuthieJ said...

Larry, that's fun you were able to go with your sister. Was the trip her idea or yours?

When I've taken my sister on birding trips, I try to take her to places I've been before and know we will have the greatest opportunity to see a good variety of birds. A nearby state park is where we usually start: old growth forest, prairie, river, and's got everything in a fairly concentrated area.

And yes, we always have plenty of snacks!

Larry said...

RuthieJ-My idea Ruth.

LauraHinNJ said...

Snacks are important, also to keep it short!

I think winter is a great time, because ducks are big and don't move much, but it's hard to get others out in the cold weather.

Of course non-birders would be really impressed by the beauty of warblers, but they are hard to *get on* with bins, especially for someone who is inexperienced.

West Coast Birding said...

Good subject Larry.You should give yourself a pat on the back. You bring great discussion points to the table..When taking new birders out I always talk a little about 'how' to bird! How to 'see'.Example; showing them how to look at a particular place on a tree, bush, snag etc.."2 ft down on left handside of cedar"..instead of saying "there"..The other advice I give is to roughly 'group' what they see..Duck...Hawk...Sparrow..Crow..then eliminate what its not..

Good fun, good subject, good for you..could talk for hours on this!


Rich Mooney

Patrice said...

Thanks for this, Larry! I appreciate your suggestions, and especially the idea of keeping it simple. I swear that Eastern Kingbird was posing for you! You've whetted my appetite for a good nature walk.