Birdwatching – the perfect quarantine hobby

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My love of birds began many years ago. There was a time when I wanted to be an ornithologist! I was fascinated by pet birds, and wanted to learn more. They’re so smart. When I became a homemaker, I was so excited about finally having the time to become a birdwatcher. I bought birdfeeders and birdseed. Binoculars and bird books. I downloaded bird identifying apps.

I live in Central/Northern California, in a fairly suburban area. There are still birds all around me! I have a few species that I see in my yard, and even more when I venture out to my neighborhood park.

Perfect time to be a bird nerd!

Just in case some of you would like to join in, now that more people are home, I thought I’d share some of my tips and tricks.

I bought this book, Pocket Birds of North America, Western Region. The text is kind of small, but the descriptions and pictures are excellent. I recently purchased another copy for my former in-laws, and I included this magnifying glass. They have books for other areas, too, so you can get one for wherever you live. I have a nice pair of Nikon binoculars, but they’re rather big for everyday use. I keep a smaller pair near my patio door, for quick identifying.

In my backyard, I have two hummingbird feeders. My first hummingbird feeder was this plastic one, but it wasn’t very easy to clean. Next I got one like this glass feeder, but it was a 10 ounce one. *facepalm* Very small. Then I got the 20 ounce one. I use both of those now. I’ve had some hummingbirds become very territorial and chase other hummers away, so I put them on opposite sides of my patio. I used to buy hummingbird nectar, but once I realized how easy (and so much cheaper) it is to make my own, I never looked back. I just boil 6 cups of water, and while it’s hot, I stir in 1.5 cups of sugar. I let it cool down and then fill them up. If there’s any left over, I keep it in a jar in the fridge.

I have two regular bird feeders on my back patio also. I have a wooden feeder like this one, that I got at Tractor Supply. There was one like this already here when we moved in, so I use it as well. For the front yard, I have a tube feeder that I hung in the tree. I mostly use a birdseed mix for my region, but for the larger birds, I also keep one feeder full of just black oil sunflower seeds.

My favorite bird identifying app is Merlin, from The Cornell Lab. It’s very easy. You select your location and the date, then choose the bird’s approximate size. You select up to three colors you observed on the bird, then specify where you saw it (feeder, swimming, on the ground, in a tree or bush, on a fence, or soaring). It will come up with a list of birds, with multiple pictures. You can even click to hear calls and songs from the birds. Audubon also has a nice app.

But really, you don’t need to have any fancy equipment, or even a yard to put feeders in. Just keep yours eyes and ears open, and pay attention, lol. It’s springtime, and the birds will be there, if you want to see them. April and May are big birding months. Watch for migrating birds, and birds building nests.

What kind of birds do you see from your window, or on your physically distanced walks? Tell me in the comments below:

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