Bird Lady Blog

August 4, 2010

Birding, Technology, and Us

Filed under: Birding Technology and Us,Munds Park Birding — Munds Park Birding @ 2:44 am

For someone my age (not to be revealed), I am decently tech-savvy, but not nearly as much as someone much younger than me.  However, I have learned a lot from my 20-something friends and employees:  I can and do “instant message”, subscribe to RSS feeds, read and post to a LISTSERV, have an entire ornithology field guide on my iPhone, figured out how to post these Pinewood News articles on a free blog website, and use the wonderful resources of the World Wide Web instead of the library for most of the birding information I need. 

So for this article I want to modestly share some of my tips with you about using today’s technology to help you be a more informed nature lover and birder.  And I will also report on our first-ever Munds Park Birders get-together, which we held on July 10th.

I have subscribed for years to a LISTSERV that is hosted (at no cost to any subscriber) by the University of Arizona.  It provides subscribers with information on a daily basis posted by Arizona birders who report their bird sightings.  Think of a LISTSERV as an easy way for people interested in a topic to stay informed via e-mail.  The LISTSERV maintains a single list of subscribers that everyone can use to either send messages to or receive messages from. The benefits to subscribing to this LISTSERV are to stay up-to-date on the “hot” birding spots and sightings and to stay connected with people who are out in the field.  This LISTSERV helped me find the Green Kingfisher at the San Pedro River many years ago and the Rufous-Backed Robin at the Boyce Thompson Arboretum more recently.  You can subscribe by sending an e-mail to listserv@listserv.arizona.edu with the following in the subject line:  subscribe BIRDWG05 Firstname Lastname (substitute your first and last name).  You will receive at least five e-mails per day about bird sightings across Arizona, and it’s a wonderful way to learn about what birds are being seen by others.  Spring and fall migration times are especially newsworthy.

I am a huge iPhone fan – mainly because of the applications (aps) I get for free or for a small amount of money.  On my phone is an awesome field guide called iBirds that I downloaded  for $20.  So when I’m on the golf course and I spot what I think is a juvenile Black-Crowned Night-Heron, I can quickly pull up my bird guide on my phone and see its photos and typical territory and even listen to a recording of its vocalization.  The best part is that when I’m traveling I don’t have to haul around any books – I have a field guide with me all the time on my cell phone.  However, on a side note, I still would never part with my hard copy field guides, and I do take them along on driving trips. 

The really cool part about birding and the World Wide Web is that you can search (“google”, “bing”) a bird and quickly come up with all sorts of sites that will give you information about that bird.  For example, if you want to learn more about the Mountain Chickadee, just type in “mountain chickadee” in your browser’s search area and you will most likely first get the Cornell University website (www.allaboutbirds.org) or the Wikipedia website and have instant access to key information about this bird.  On the Web you can also find birding festivals, contact a tour guide on land or sea to give you a guided birding tour on your next vacation, and use the site www.ebird.org to view bird reports, charts, and maps about birds in our state or in others.

I found some free nest box plans on the Internet as well – and I build chickadee/nuthatch and bluebird boxes based on those plans.  A wonderful site from the State of North Dakota lets you download an entire free book for nest box and feeder plans in a PDF format:   http://www.npwrc.usgs.gov/resource/wildlife/ndblinds/ndblinds.pdf.  And of course the plans work for birds in any state. 

I subscribe to Bird Watcher’s Digest, a very informative, educational, and entertaining little magazine owned and managed by a family out of Ohio.  You can subscribe to the hard copy magazine, the online version, or both.  Go to www.birdwatchersdigest.com to learn more.  A subscription to the magazine costs $20 for a year and would be a great gift – for yourself or someone else.

For the next article, I will report on the Painted Redstart and the Red Shafted Flicker.  But I do want to mention here that we had our first-ever meeting of Munds Park Birders on July 10th at Pinewood Country Club.  Seven enthusiastic residents came to meet each other, share information, and give me some new ideas for articles.  We intend to have at least one more meeting before fall, so stay tuned for a date and time. 

In the meantime, you can reach me at margaretdyekman@cox.net, and you can read all the articles and leave your comments, if you are so inclined, at www.birdladyblog.wordpress.com.  It is always great to hear from other birders, and I welcome your questions and comments!

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