Saturday, February 25, 2006

Ivory-billed Woodpecker Celebration 9

In her Birding 101 talk, Sharon Stiteler began with a monologue about the addictive nature of the pastime. It can begin innocently enough and progress quickly into a desire for more, more, more.

In reality, Stiteler said birding requires only two things: birds and you. To get birds, try feeding them. She recommended sunflower seeds out of the shell, nectar and (surprisingly enough) oyster crackers.

The Short One displayed amusing photos to illustrate her points, and she conceded that by attracting feeder birds, you'll attract predatory birds who'll eat the smaller visitors.

Feeding birds can be as simple as spreading seed and corn on a deck railing, she said, or involve cute feeders and elaborate set-ups with many feeders on tall shepherd's hooks.

To go further, Stiteler said, you can offer housing, such as nestboxes, which require monitoring and cleaning. Nesting cups offer another alternative. You might find unexpected visitors, such as Hooded Mergansers in a Wood Duck box.

Birds occur everywhere, an idea that she illustrated with pictures of a Merlin chick found in a back yard, nesting Peregrine Falcons in the city, a Great Gray Owl sitting on a road sign, and a Bay Area guide at a dump in San Francisco.

The second ingredient in this activity is you plus optional equipment, like a binocular to really see the birds well. For better views, a spotting scope provides greater magnification. A camera offers the chance to preserve those sightings, as does digiscoping.

"Hip clothes" provide birder field marks. These include the ubiquitous khaki vest, pant legs tucked into socks (in an effort to thwart ticks) and duct tape wrapped around shoes (to outsmart chiggers).

Birding can occur anywhere you keep your eyes open, Stiteler said, because "you never know where that great bird is gonna be."


Anonymous Mike said...

This is great! Sharon really nails the addictive quality of this activity.

March 01, 2006 8:48 AM  

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