Sunday, February 28, 2016

Bird Season

 Spotted a pair of pair of downy woodpeckers flitting about in the front yard.  This is the male.

My first love, trees, are mostly still pretty sleepy; meanwhile, the birds are busier all the time--mating season has begun.  Birds are perhaps the easiest group of large animals* to watch, or at least the most obvious, and they're virtually everywhere.  And for the next month or two--birds will be at their most visible: trees will not begin leafing-out until almost May.  

Even though I am no kind of birder, I will be observing and learning as much as I can over the coming weeks.  I have used several websites to identify and learn about birds, but the Cornell Lab of Ornithology is the premier site--especially for learning bird songs.  Songs are valuable because we often hear birds that we can't see.  A skillful birder I know can identify many birds with her eyes closed.  

Looking through the Cornell site a day or so ago, I came upon a great way to learn to identify birds by their songs.  If you want to go out better prepared, here is a great place to start. Within something called the Bird Academy, I found Bird Song Hero.  This is a couple of interactive lesson/quizzes that teaches you to "see" birdsong.  And after you've finished it, you get a free download of backyard bird songs that you can study and keep for reference.  (There's also a nifty-looking online lecture course you can take, but it costs money.)

Other sites are easy to find in a search.

*Okay, maybe they're medium-sized animals.  But on the grand scale of things, most animals are the size of insects.  (Come to think of it, most animals ARE insects!)  Of course, we are bigger than the average bird, but you might not realize that we aren't that far from the top of the animal size range.  Blue whales are about 2000 times heavier than a human, a human is about 1000 times heavier than a robin, which is in turn about 3700 times heavier than a lady bug. 

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