January 26, 2021
I mentioned how last year I generally took a wait and see attitude toward my birding. That meant while I was always on the lookout for birds, I was not purposeful and did not go out of my way to find them. This year I have taken a different approach and have taken two specific trips to finds birds (one successful and one not so much). While I recorded 26 species last year, I have already recorded 29 species this year, and that does not include six species where I have shots of both male and female birds that look appreciably different than each other. Once more, being purposeful seems to make a big difference.
One of the downloads I now have for my phone is an identification guide from the Audubon Society. While I find it a little difficult to use (you need to have an idea what the bird is to look it up), It is another tool in my birding arsenal. Alexander Wilson is credited as the Father of American birding and he produced the 9-volume work American Ornithology between 1808 and 1814. Wilson was closely followed by John James Audubon whose work, Birds of America, was published between 1827 and 1838. This was long held as the most comprehensive study of American birds and the artwork is still considered exceptional. After Audubon died George Grinnell became fascinated with birds in the 1860’s, and was mentored by Audubon’s wife, Lucy. After she died in 1874 Grinnell continued to be a birder and founded the Audubon Society in 1886 in honor of Lucy and her husband John.
As my birding has increased so have the offers to help received from family and friends. Melissa has found short day trips here in Arkansas where I can find different varieties of birds (I have yet to go). Some of these trips involve migratory birds that are only in the state during the winter, so time is getting short to check them out. My mom also gave me a 24-lesson course on birding as part of my birthday. This is one of the Great Courses series and is put out by National Geographic. I began watching the first lessons and have already learned a lot. It is never surprising when we listen to the experts how much we can learn.
Thoughts: When Grinnell became fascinated with birds, he sought out one the premier experts on American birds, Lucy Audubon. He knew while he could become accomplished at recognizing birds on his own, it was much easier if he was tutored by an expert. While I do not have a person who tutors me, I have found ways to find virtual experts who can help me identify the various birds I see. Virtual experts seem appropriate amid all the virtual classes, meetings, and socials we have become accustomed to. This year’s success has reemphasized how using the right tools and being purposeful allow me to obtain my goals. So does following the advice of experts. Follow the science. Change is coming and it starts with you.