Bird Lady Blog

September 11, 2013

My Favorite Birding Things – Part 2

Filed under: Birding,Birding Technology and Us,Plumbeous Vireo — Munds Park Birding @ 9:47 pm
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Plumbeous Vireo courtesy Gordon Karre

Plumbeous Vireo courtesy Gordon Karre

In Part 1 I wrote about bird baths and feeders.  Part 2 is all about technology, binoculars, books, and magazines.  Let me start with how much information and fun technology brings to the birding experience.

For the past several weeks I’ve heard a bird calling high in the trees around our house.  I finally was able to spot it with my binoculars, but it was a bit of a challenge to get a really good look as I strained my neck peering straight up into the Ponderosa Pine.  It was mostly pale underneath and had a narrow beak – indicative of insect-eaters, not seed-eaters.  It also seemed larger than a warbler, so my first thought was a vireo.  I whipped out my smart phone and pulled up the iBird application.  Scrolled to “vireos” and looked at the pale-breasted vireo options.  Assumed this was a breeding bird since I had been hearing it for a few weeks now.  Considered the Plumbeous Vireo because its habitat and range were right – including breeding in northern Arizona in coniferous and mixed forests.  But to finally put the nail in the coffin, so to speak, I hit the “sound  icon” on my phone ap and heard the vocalization.  Bingo!  Within just a couple of minutes using my binoculars and iBird, I confirmed that the bird I had been hearing was indeed a Plumbeous Vireo – another life bird for me, and right here in our Munds Park front yard.

Technology has helped me a lot when birding.  I use the internet to learn all about bird festivals and their schedules and to search for a bird and learn more about it.  The Cornell University Lab of Ornithology site is excellent – http://www.birds.cornell.edu.   I’ve pulled up nest box plans from the North Dakota State Game and Fish Department’s website and built Screech Owl, Chickadee, and Bluebird houses.  For my Pinewood News articles I go to Gordon Karre’s Flickr account and download one of his wonderful photos to supplement the text.  Just a cut and paste, and then I send everything off via e-mail to our paper’s editor for uploading.  I have two bird field guides on my iPhone:  iBird and Peterson’s Birds of North America.  The first one was $20, and I got the Peterson’s ap for $1 during a special sale.  I also have traditional book field guides including several of Peterson’s and Sibley’s, which are great, but wow, what handy resources to have when out and about – two comprehensive field guides in my smart phone!

Of course, binoculars are a must when birding.  Telescopes and binoculars were invented in the early 17th century, and today they are refined into many different types at varying costs.  I have six pairs – one I keep in my golf bag.  My favorites are a Swift Audubon 8.5×44 that my husband bought me over 20 years ago.  It’s just a good solid wide-angle choice that works well with a neck/shoulder harness.  I also really like my smallest pair – a Leopold 6×32 that is great around the house here.  It is light-weight, focuses at a distance of six feet, and fits well in a carry-on when I travel.

Finally, let me quickly mention the magazines I subscribe to:  1)  Bird Watchers Digest – family-owned publication, also with an on-line version, small enough to carry in a purse, with a variety of articles about species, birding destinations, Q&As, humor, and special interest articles.  Need a great gift for someone who likes birds?  Get them a subscription for $30 a year.  2)  Birds and Blooms, for a light/fun reading about gardens and birds.  I was introduced to this magazine by my Munds Park neighbor who gave me her back issues to read a few years ago.  The special price now is $20 for two years.  3)  Arizona Wildlife Views, a publication of the Arizona Game and Fish Department for the nature-lovers and hunters in Arizona.  The cost of an annual subscription is $8.50.

Last but not least – I am happy to report that two of my golfing friends spotted the “blue-billed” duck on the pond at Hole 18 on different days – so the Ruddy Duck has come back, at least for a few days.  I will let you know if we see it again.  That’s why binoculars in my golf bag come in handy!

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