5 Essential Tips for Bird Watching in a Changing Climate
As the climate changes and bird populations decrease, those who enjoy the hobby of birding may find themselves staring at nothing but shrubbery for hours on end. It's getting tougher and tougher to find locations that produce quality results in capturing and recording the life of rare species, and aviary enthusiasts must work harder to locate their preferred bird. In areas where they may have studied certain birds, different kinds are showing up in droves with the previously inhabited breed nowhere to be found.
Study Your Taxonomy
For those aren’t even sure what the word “taxonomy” even means, it would be in their best interest to brush up on the topic before attempting to scope out the trees. Essentially, taxonomy is how birds and other animals are classified; one kind of bird can easily be mistaken for another. Beginners would do best by starting with a bird guide that is arranged by color for easier birding navigation and spotting out rare species, rather than just a look-a-like.
For birding on a budget, consider downloading an app that can be referenced on the go. Not everyone has room for a large taxonomy book in their bag, but everyone carries a cell phone with internet capabilities.
Locations for Breeding Grounds Have Shifted
Major adjustments in the weather have disrupted the natural course of migration for most species, so the time of year and geography of where birds are nesting have also changed quite drastically. The Allen’s Hummingbird for example is expected to lose about 90% of its total breeding ground range by 2080, that’s only 60 years from now! This means that they may not be stopping off to rest in the same areas that they have before, so you’ll have may have to scout for better birding locations.
Currently, it is predicted that the Allen’s Hummingbird species will eventually move from the west coast toward southern states like Texas for easier food foraging. Longer winters in the coastal regions means a much later spring, resulting in less nectar-producing plants. If you live next to the ocean, consider travelling inland for a better turnout.
Plan Ahead, and Take Notes
If you’re new to birdwatching, you probably don’t have a log set up yet, but it's something you’ll want to do from the very beginning of your endeavors. Whether there’s one certain bird you hope to spot out, or a few different kinds, knowing their habits as seasons change is just a basic part of this hobby. However, it's also something that requires the skills of patience and a keen eye.
Jot down key things such as the time and date, and pinpoint the exact location of where you found your bird. If you’re birding in Central Park, make a notation of which areas are more populated. Write your sightings in Strawberry Fields or the Mall and Literary Park, are there any landmarks nearby? Are you aware of any changes that will be made to the area in the future?
Don’t forget to make a detailed description of the different species you see; what kind of colors do you see? Are there any unique feather patterns that you’re unfamiliar with? Birding is meant to be a calming, enjoyable experience, much like fishing is for some people. Take your time and be sure to pay attention to the little things, they’ll come in handy for the next season.
Learn to Recognize the Different Bird Calls
We all know how essential it is to remain as quiet as possible when birdwatching, but knowing how to make out the difference between specific whistles and calls makes all the difference. To do this, it's best to use a high quality recorder, or you can try to use an app on your cell phone. Beginner birdwatchers who don’t know what kind of sound their looking for would be wise to look up videos and actually listen to individual calls.
Define which ones are for mating and territorial purposes, if you hear them it's likely there is a large flock somewhere within the region. Once you’re able to specify the identifying tones and patterns to the right bird, you’ll be far more successful.