Coronavirus cabin fever? Lots of house-bound folks are getting into birdwatching lately – a fun & easy outdoor springtime activity, even better when you’ve got a couple of guide books and apps, and a pair of decent binoculars. While we at the CFC are beginning birders ourselves, here’s a list of resources that we find helpful.
- Audubon Bird Guide – amazingly comprehensive. Download the Eastern data file to access multiple search indexes, high-res images, and bird call audio when you’re offline.
- Merlin Bird ID – identify that bird by key, by photo – or BY SOUND! Just hit a button on your phone to record songs, and this excellent free app analyzes and interprets all the birds who are singing – and links to more info on each
- eBird – Cornell Lab’s quick & simple app interface for tracking sightings – use this one for The Great Backyard Bird Count
- Peterson Field Guide to Birds of Eastern and Central North America, 6th Edition – a classic, this beautifully-illustrated guide from our friends at the Roger Tory Peterson Institute is the one we reach for most often. (NB: a newer edition has been published.)
- Birds of North America, Golden Field Guides – great for young & old alike, with vibrant illustrations in a compact format.
- What It’s Like to Be a Bird: From Flying to Nesting, Eating to Singing — What Birds Are Doing, and Why (Sibley Guides) – fun facts and lovely illustrations.
- The Laws Guide to Drawing Birds – easy-to-follow step-by-step bird blueprints for field sketching your sightings.
- How Birds Live – a 1940s softcover guide to the many mysteries of birds, and an interesting method for charting their songs and calls
Online Birding Resources:
- Seneca Rocks Chapter of the Audubon Society – www.senecarocksaudubon.org
- Cornell Lab of Ornithology – https://www.birds.cornell.edu/home/
- American Bird Conservancy – https://abcbirds.org/birds
Items that Help Bring the Birds to You:
- binoculars – probably the only investment a beginning birder should make. Audubon has a comprehensive guide to binoculars at various price points here, and from this list I bought the Celestron Nature DX 8×42 and have been really pleased with their brightness and clarity. I also have the 10×42 model of the Nature DX, and it’s great, too – they magnify a bit more, and are a bit harder to target and hold steady.
- bird feeder, tube style – this model is also available at Tractor Supply and Wal-Mart, has lasted several years, and attracts chickadees, tufted titmice, goldfinches, sparrows, nuthatches, woodpeckers up to red-bellied size, cardinals, and bluejays. Grackles are almost too large for it, and they dislike a hood (e.g. a 2′ or so diameter circle slid over the hanger) or roof add-on, if you’re having problems with them.
- bird feeder, double suet cage – a good sturdy design for attracting woodpeckers and nuthatches, and the flat roof doubles as a platform for feeding oranges, etc.
- hummingbird feeder – this model is easier to clean than the bottle types. Hummingbird feeders should be boiled or washed with a weak bleach solution between fillings, so they don’t harbor mold & bacteria. Here’s the best recipe for hummingbird nectar – only use plain white sugar and water, in a one to four ratio.
To pick up any of the above, and enjoy their excellent backyard bird sanctuary, visit The Birdwatchers Store in Slippery Rock. Happy birding!