I tell my family – my friends – that it really isn’t my fault. I didn’t mean to turn out like this. It started as a simple assignment back in April of 2010. Spend 15 minutes outside listening to birds. See how long your child could last being silent and intently listening to their calls. They lasted a few minutes. I literally put a cot out on the deck with a memory foam mattress. See. It’s my OCD, or as my neighbor points out, my CDO – which – is the reason for this post. It’s the CDO part of the bird watching – that has changed me. Sigh.
To make matters worse – Heather comes along from Kingdom Arrows – and asks me to Tweet & See – to write down the birds that we see. The old me. Care free me. Would have written Orange bird on the yard, floating ducks, pigeon at the mall, tiny birds all over, sparrow, and running birds by the beach and some cool birds at the docks in Newport. Simple. But. They didn’t know I was CDO. . . . . and they added the words Challenge and Names to their taunts online.
I see now in my third month of participating in Tweet & See that I have a problem. Every waking hour is now dedicated to focusing on bird identification, sketching, labeling, inquiring, photographing, staulking, driving, walking. Math? Uh uh. No way. No time for english or science. Just Birding. What? You’re saying this is supposed to be about the boys? Their learning experience? No. Me. ME. memememememememe. Oh. Sorry. Sigh. See? Is there a 10 step plan to de-bird-i-size your self?
This year, it is a year later, and the challenge comes up again. Spring Birds. And this year, Orange bird has turned into a Varied Thrush, and floating lake birds have turned into a dozen varieties of ducks, and don’t get me started on the Sparrows – and Warblers. . . . .
So – In my obsession – I’ve now started a Bird List. It is up on the bar of the website – Some Schooling, Beach Schooling, Lake Schooling and Bird Schooling. Sigh. The problem is, I only seem to be attracting people with my same new found obsession. . . . .
And it is spreading. Jon spent two hours sketching hummingbirds and flowers based on the drawings out of the Sibley book last night. He is the one that caught the Osprey eating a Trout on our telephone wire. He is the one that can point out that a duck is “different” than the one before, or is excited to tell me when a new sparrow has arrived.
Nate likes the birds, but asked if it was ok if he was not as excited as Jon and I. Yep. He can be. He’d rather look in the tide pools. I’d rather keep my eye out for the Brown Pelicans.
Wander over to the Bird Schooling page. It is still a work in progress. I’m considering opening a Blogger Blog for my birds alone – but it does tie into our schooling. . .. My Schooling. All of the photos on the page were taken this month, April 2011 in Lincoln County, Oregon.
Wander over to the Handbook of Nature Study to see how your little ones can study Birds – On a non OCD level – put the fun back into it – over here: http://handbookofnaturestudy.blogspot.com/2011/04/2011-spring-series-spring-bird.html
I know this is getting long – but I have been active on the Lincoln County Birding Yahoo Group – the Leader answered a few of my questions with a really thoughtful answer – I asked, and he has allowed me to print his reply on this blog –
Re: photos. Nice photos! Your first photo *April 8 near Yaquina Bay
Lighthouse) looks like a Townsend’s Solitaire: gray underparts, white
eye-ring, and white under the tail as shown in National Geographic
field guide p. 354. Then an Orange-crowned Warbler (Wilson’s don’t
have striping on breast & too early), and a molting male Common
Goldeneye. Sometimes not all birds (or photos) can be identified
conclusively–with experience, we learn more about which details to
look for closely to make a good identification before a bird flies
away because birds are often on the move and often may not remain long
enough for a conclusive identification.
Re: online bird guide. I like Seattle Audubon’s http://birdweb.org/
–birds in Oregon are much like those in Washington–it includes links
to photos. Cornell Lab of Ornithology’s
http://www.allaboutbirds.org/Page.aspx?pid=1189 is also helpful.
iPod guides are good for the field with vocalizations being helpful to
try to figure out singing birds and sometimes to get birds to respond,
though calling birds sometimes needs to be done judiciously in popular
birding areas, especially during the nesting season because if it so
done too much by too many birders in the same area, it may hurt bird
Re: molting. No general field guide will show all the variation in
molting. Looking at winter and breeding plumage images in books show
the end points, so sometimes one has to interpolate intermediate
A caution–taking photos of birds can be a helpful tool and one can
get some great photos, but, in my opinion, the best way to gain
experience quickly in bird identification and bird appreciation is to
spend 90+% of time observing birds very closely, noting details like
discussed at the start of field guides for identifying birds or making
field sketches. As a photographer, I have found it very easy to spend
90+% of time trying to photograph birds and miss really seeing the
bird closely, especially missing details that are essential in
identifying birds. Sketching is a great way to really learn how to
pay attention to details of birds–sketches don’t have to be works of
art, they can be very basic 3rd grader-type drawings with arrows
pointing out details of parts of the bird. There can be times when it
is great to spend 90+% of time photographing birds, but doing so
exclusively may gain one photographing experience but at the expense
of gaining birdwatching experience.
Mike Patterson (Astoria) has a good page
keeping field notes and sketching, and David Irons (Portland) in
BirdFellow has a good page
on the subject.
Don’t get me wrong, photos can be very helpful, especially in
confirming an identification as well as aesthetically, but if one
just snaps photos and doesn’t spend time on looking closely at birds
to see details, one can miss a lot and this results in one having to
study a photo to identify a bird rather than the bird itself.
Studying a bird can also help in taking photos to show the most
relevant details in making bird identifications.
Again, nice photos & have fun!
Thank you Range!!!!
This is too cute. I am a little OCD, too!
sounds like a great activity to do together!
we are not into ‘birding’- but I used to take the boys outside to a park or something and we’d sit with out eyes close and identify all the sounds- people walking, birds, dogs barking, bees buzzing, leaves rustling, motor cycle in the distance…etc-
it was fun and a good exercise for the boys. probably something we should try again…
I am not quite to the level you are in my bird interests. I love finding new birds and being able to identify birds by call now….that was last year’s work and it pays off. I tend to go in levels where I am content to just look at birds, then I need to take photos, and then I need to know who they are. I am finding it more interesting this year to learn the habits of birds…how they eat, fly, and nest. Birds can be a lifelong passion.
I don’t think your interest in birds is anything negative and sharing your passion with your boys is always a good thing. I love the info from Range…great suggestions that any of us can apply.
Thanks for sharing your thoughts and your obsession/passion.
I am really really enjoying the birding interest. It really gives me something to do when my chores are done. 😉 I love learning how they come and go, where they nest, how they eat, – it is just so interesting. The only hard part has been this conflicting desire to keep a website life list, and how much time it takes. I think I’ll keep to my book life list, simple to check off dates in a book. 😉