Archive for August, 2013

Fall Birding Events

178522633Here are some great fall birding events between now and the end of the year.  So grab your trusty binoculars, your field book and some warm clothing and get birding!

Birding Festivals 2013

Credit: Larry Hitchens

Blackwater National Wildlife Refuge, MD, hosts an Eagle Festival on March 9, 2013

For a jaw-dropping natural spectacle, it’s hard to beat a bird festival. National wildlife refuges make great bird festival locales because they’re bird magnets; many protect important bird habitat along the country’s major fly routes. To see great masses of birds, look for festivals that coincide with spring or fall migration. Here are some major refuge-centered festivals scheduled for 2013, in the order they will occur.

Here are some major refuge-centered festivals in 2013:

Midwest Birding Symposium

Thursday, September 19- Sunday, September 22 — Lakeside, OH
The festival includes field trips to Ottawa National Wildlife Refuge.

Wings over Water Wildlife Festival
Tuesday, October 22-Sunday, October 27— Outer Banks, NC
Pick from scores of talks and trips on birding, paddling, wildlife photography and natural history.  Field trips will go to Pea Island andAlligator River National Wildlife Refuges. All proceeds go to the Coastal Wildlife Refuge Society, a nonprofit that supports national wildlife refuges in eastern North Carolina.

Rio Grande Valley Birding Festival   
Thursday, November 7 – Monday, November 11 — Harlingen, TX
The festival includes field trips to Laguna Atascosa, Lower Rio Grande Valley and Santa Ana National Wildlife Refuges. Featured events include lectures, workshops, birding trips, boating on the Arroyo and other guided trips. Look for great kiskadees, green jays, Altamira orioles and chachalacas.

Festival of the Cranes
November 19 – 24 — Bosque del Apache National Wildlife Refuge, NM
Thrill to skiesful of sandhill cranes and snow geese at a world-famous birding festival. Enjoy tours, talks, workshops, field trips, dusk fly-ins and dawn fly-outs.

Repost from U.S. National Wildlife Refuge System Homepage

Name that bird!

Test your birding skills. Can you guess the bird by just listening to it?


Fall Birding Tips

fall birding, bird shedThe weather in the northeast has been rather cool as of late, and it reminds us that fall is fast approaching. Fall is a great time to go birding, but just as birds change their behaviors as the seasons change, so too must birders change how they approach birding if we hope to enjoy the great bounty of birding opportunities of fall.  Here are a few fall birding tips to get you ready:

Fall Birding Benefits

Fall is after most birds’ nesting season and young birds help create larger flocks for birders to spot. This is also a peak migration time, bringing many different birds to areas where they wouldn’t normally be seen. Because of this, fall can often be one of the most productive seasons for birders who know how to take advantage of it.

Where to go birding in the Fall

Knowing where to find birds during the autumn months can make the difference between seeing the same local species and spotting new migrating visitors. The best spots to bird in the fall include:

Waterways: Migrating waterfowl and shorebirds travel near bodies of water, including coastal areas, lakes and rivers.

Cliffs: Thermal air currents near steep mountainsides or cliffs are the best place to spot migrating raptors.

Grasslands: Open grasslands that have gone to seed are a hotspot for migrating sparrows and songbirds.

Of course, any suitable bird habitat can be a great place to check for unusual species in the fall. Don’t neglect your favorite birding hotspots as you watch for traveling visitors.

Here are a few fall  Birding Tips

Get your backyard ready

Like most of year, have your water supplies continually filled and ready to go.  With dropping leaves, make sure they are clean of leaves and other debris that could mask them.  As the flocks migrate, they’ll be especially hungry and it is always recommended to have an ample amount of feeders and tasty morsels ready to go!

Identify Birds Carefully

Fall is an exciting time that may bring many transient birds to an area, but avoid jumping to unusual conclusions when spotting an unfamiliar bird. Young birds often resemble other species and can be tricky to identify properly.

Dress Comfortably

The weather can be unpredictable in the fall, ranging from Indian summer heat to pre-winter chills in just a few hours. Dress in layers, and don’t forget to add a touch of bright yellow or orange to your attire if you will be birding in areas where hunting is popular.

Watch the Time

As the days grow shorter and the birds more diverse, it can be easy to forget when the sun goes down. If you are birding in the evening, be sure to keep an eye on the clock so you aren’t caught far from safety as darkness settles.

Attract Migrating Birds

It isn’t necessary to venture far to see unique migrating birds in the fall. Stock your backyard with seed and water, choose late blooming flowers, and try other tricks to attract migrating birds right to your door.

Keep Dogs Leashed

Birds gather in large flocks in the fall as they prepare to journey to their winter habitats, and so many birds in one location can be overly stimulating to a dog. If your dog will be joining you on a bird walk, keep it securely leashed so it does not disturb our feathered friends.

Check Flocks Thoroughly

While from a distance a flock of birds may seem to be made up of a single species, many birds congregate in mixed flocks after the nesting season ends. Check flocks carefully to see if there are any unusual members you wouldn’t want to miss.

Bird Frequently

During the fall migration, new birds will arrive at the same location every day. Visiting one location repeatedly can yield a range of unique species and is a great way to learn the migration habits of different birds.