by Deborah Morganthal
An exploration of the 346 acres that comprise Olivette Riverside Community is sure to bring out the birder in you, even if you’re a complete novice. The diversity of the landscape at Olivette—open meadows, forests, rolling hills, riverfront access—make our landscape a haven for a diverse population of birds year round. Here’s a sample of some of our local feathered friends we often see.
Eastern Bluebird, Northern Cardinal, Red-winged Blackbird, Dark-eyed Junco, Carolina Chickadee, Pileated Woodpecker, Northern Mockingbird, White-breasted Nuthatch, American Goldfinch, Great Blue Heron, Red-tail Hawk, Ruby-throated Hummingbird, Yellow Warbler, Scarlet Tanagar, Canada Goose, Eastern Screech Owl, and Wild Turkey.
More than 46 million Americans enjoy the hobby of bird watching. It’s a great way to connect with nature, it’s easy to learn to identify many types of birds, and the activity doesn’t require a lot of equipment.
What You’ll Need
- You don’t need a lot of stuff to get started. Carry a small day pack to hold your field guide, along with a notebook and pen to record the names of the birds you identify, where you saw them, what time of day you sighted them, and any other relevant information. Buy a field guide for this region of the country so you’ll have a better idea of what birds you’re likely to find.
- Invest in a decent pair of binoculars and keep them around your neck—not in your pack!
Identifying What You See
If you’re having trouble identifying a bird using your field guide, here are a few ways to narrow your search:
- What’s the geographic description? The bird you’re looking at is more likely to occur naturally in the area.
- What does the bird look like? Most field guides list a description and include a silhouette image to help you identify birds using plumage and other physical characteristics.
- Use your cell phone to take a photo of the birds you can’t identify. At a later time, you can study the bird’s features more closely.
- What kinds of sounds does it make? Eventually you can identify birds by their calls. There are recordings of birds available on the Internet that you can use to learn the sounds of different birds.
Enjoy the Process
Try not to get hung up in making bird watching a competition to see how many birds you can “catch” and record in your notebook. If you approach this activity from the perspective of a way to more closely engage with your surroundings and to heighten your sense of sight and hearing, you’ll feel the time spent on the search was well worth it, no matter what the final tally of bird sightings is for that day.