How do birdwatchers identify a particular species? Like fishermen who know how to "read the water," it helps to understand habitat. At a wetland full of cattails, for example, you're likely to find a Red-winged Blackbird, because it requires dense marsh vegetation to nest. If you take notes about habitats where you like to spend time, you'll accumulate valuable knowledge that helps you identify birds. Find your local Audubon chapter and learn about birds and their habitats. Join them on a field trip to explore habitats near you.
Birding 101 – Habitat, Where to Look
Written by Chris Peterson
This is BirdNote!
Let’s eavesdrop on a group of birdwatchers exploring a freshwater marsh.
[Sounds of the excitement of the field trip; the sighting of the Green Heron]
We can hear the excitement of birdwatching, yet what exactly do birdwatchers watch? How do they identify a particular species? Well, they observe a bird’s habitat and its behavior; they look at its color and markings; they take note of its size; and they listen for calls and songs.
Today, let’s focus on habitat, because—like fishermen who know how to “read the water”—it helps to know where to look. At a wetland full of cattails, for example, you’re likely to find a Red-winged Blackbird, because it requires dense marsh vegetation for its nest.
[Sound of Red-winged Blackbird in wetland setting]
To begin, if you take notes about habitats where you like to spend time, you’ll accumulate valuable knowledge that helps you identify birds. Stop and ask yourself, “What would I call this habitat?” For example, “Am I in a mixed conifer and deciduous forest, or an alpine evergreen forest? Is this a cultivated grassland, or a wide-open desert?” The more you learn to specify the area, the more you can anticipate what birds will be there.
If you prefer, join field trips and learn from others, for there are some 70 million birdwatchers! Let’s listen again…. [Alternate: delete “for there are…]
[Sound of the group trying to locate the Virginia Rail]
To locate an Audubon chapter near you, begin with a visit to our website, BirdNote.org.
Soundtrack recorded by C.Peterson
Producer: John Kessler
Executive Producer: Chris Peterson
© Seattle Audubon 07/08/05 © 2008 Tune In to Nature.org Rev for July 08