Bird Watching

by Lin Stone

The hardest part of raising bird seed for a living
is keeping the birds out of the field until the seed  is sold and gone.

A beautiful new sport has come winging its way across America.  Bird Watching can be a spectator sport of leisure done from your breakfast table -- or a strenuous exercise that takes you far into the out of doors and even around the world.  You can tell what the weather around you will be like by visiting my Birds You Will See videos site. Use the weather map on the left, scroll out until you can see your country, then your local data.  You will receive a 10-day weather forecast that shows the weather there.

The only tools you really need to play this sport are your eyes and your ears.  A notebook comes in handy.  A simple camera will keep you perking and beckons you in closer.  Then there are the people like me who need an expensive camera, good hiking boots, a staff to lean on in moments of weakness and to help me up the mountains, a bedroll, a portable tent, cooking utensils and, well I don't see the end of the list yet.

One way to find all the birds in your neighborhood is to find a nearby place that makes a concerted effort to maintain a natural habitat for birds to live in. Few places do this better than the State of Texas.

Texas prizes its bird citizens and all along the coast of Texas are habitats for birds.  These birds and these habitats are then advertised to the public so birders will know where these habitats are to be found and and what kind of birds you can expect to find there.

Another way to organize your array of birds is by commonality.  If you live in San Diego and have a friend living in New York, discover what kind of birds you have that your friend is also likely to see.  What are they eating there that they aren't eating here?  As you compare notes you will both learn a lot more about the birds you have in common.  There are many pages of information about birds here. Also, when you click on the Birds You See link you will also have access to over 300 videos to help you identify all the birds you aren't familiar with yet. 

While you are there, look for your favorite birds.  Each video you look at tells you how many others have viewed that video at Birds You See.  When I begin looking for more birds to write about, or videos to fetch I will see the birds you help make popular on my site, so tell your friends about the birds you like best.  SHARE that video with your friends on FaceBook, Twitter, whatever through the SHARE button right under the video.

The shape of a bird's bill will usually reveal what kind of food that bird will favor.  What then of the green-colored crossbill that frequents mountain-tops in Mexico?  How does it manage to eat with its mouth all awry?  Actually, its mouth is well adapted to its food for it feeds on roots, buds, and pine-cones. Owing to its two mandibles being so strongly made and so curiously arranged the crossbill can cut through branches, roots and pine cones, as if it had a pair of scissors. If it had a pointed beak it could never penetrate any of these.

Robin Red Breasts are the best known prophets of spring.

Are you puzzled with a Bald Eagle! 

Have you ever wondered why two varieties of birds can eat the same food side by side and come out with feathers dressed in diverse colors?  Even their bills can be different colors.  Have you ever wondered why buzzards soar just as high over a cold mountain top in Arkansas as they do over a hot desert of volcanic rock in Arizona? 

Have you ever wondered why almost every bird fully decked in black feathers cling to their clan ties while most other birds pair off, male and female?  Colonies of buzzards will come chattering to a clump of trees for a brief meeting before the sun rises then soar off into the skies for a lonely sojourn unless news of a special feast was flashed during their morning coffee chat.  That evening will find all of them perched once more in a clandestine colony before lofting off in the direction each of them prefers to call home. 

Colonies of blackbirds assemble in much the same fashion as will crows and ravens except these lesser cousins prefer to prey in packs during the daylight hours.  Scare one and startle them all.  Blackbird colonies can number in the thousands if not thinned out by the savage attacks of armed men.

Some birds have very unusual names -- like Goatsuckers - or Nightjars - These have long wings kind of in the shape of boomerangs.  Their legs are short and their bills are very short. The Goatsuckers name originally came from the mistaken belief that they occasionally suck milk from goats (the Latin for goatsucker is Caprimulgus).

Some New World species have an a.k.a. of "nighthawks". On the Arizona desert of 65 years ago Indian lads played a game of taking turns throwing sticks or stones at the Goatsuckers. The object of the game was to see how many times we could make the Goatsuckers dive at the missile. Anyone that got 2 of them to dive at the same time at their missile got double points.

Nightjars are found around the world. They are mostly active in the late evening and early morning or on moonlit nights as they feed predominantly on moths and other large flying insects found out at that time of night.
Most species have small feet that are of little use for walking.

Their soft, ruffly feathers are colored in alternating swatches of gray and dark gray in patterns much larger than are found on the back of a meadowlark. This pattern helps them to be mistaken for bark or dead leaves when they are parked. Goatsuckers usually nest on the ground like kildeer.

The Jamaican coffee providers say yellow warblers find beetles to be a delicacy and are a welcomed sight on plantations. It has been found that these and other similar bird species save an estimated $10,000 per year for the standard coffee farm. This is a substantial amount of money in Costa Rica, and is nearly equal to the average income in the country.

According to John Martinez, Owner of J. Martinez & Company, "The borer beetle has long been considered a menace to coffee farmers. Unlike other pests, it cannot be eliminated by crop spraying. They may be small, but these pests have been known to destroy entire plantations, which as you know can ruin a family's livelihood. This is why it is important to keep the bird populations healthy and abundant."

The suppliers of gourmet coffee note many studies have linked plentiful forest land to the number of beetle-eating birds, which may serve as a helpful tip for farmers to strategically plant their crops in well-vegetated areas, like Arkansas.

Lin Stone is the author of  Short Stuff, Tales From the Light Side and Water, Water.  As an editor Lin has organized several more books. 

I know you are as anxious to get started as I am to help you on your way.  
So, let's move it.


Start Birding  *  The 767 Page Bird Finder Book  Pet Birds  *    Building houses for wild birds  *  The Raven, by Edgar Alan Poe  *  Improve your bird-spotting skills with our free videos.  *  Learn how to identify these birds...  *  Pigeons R Birds 2  *  Where to Put the Bird House  *  Birds of East Africa  *  The Loon  *  The Scissor Beak  *  Attracting Birds to watch  *  The #1 Sport of America  *  Why Watch Birds?  *  Basics of bird watching  *    Successful Bird Watching  *  The Thunder Triplets were born during a rolling thunder storm in Tennessee  *  Building a Bird House  *  Building Fancy Bird Houses  +  Bird House Problems  *  Shooting Bird Houses  ++ Uninvited Guests  *  The orphans you find  *  Window Collisions   *  Traveling For The Birds  *  Quads for Deep Country Birding  *  The American Eagle  *  The Condor  *  The Canary  *  Observe Birds in Peru  *  Go Where the birds Are  *  Chickens Are Cute Little Carnivores  *  Write About Your Favorite Birds  *  ANYone can enjoy birding, ANY Time  *  The Umbrella Bird  *  A Truce Between Man and Birds  *  Pet Birds 

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