Tools: Brief, we will discuss this in more detail at the next workshop and you can read about it in the "Tools" Section.
- Field Guide (Print and Online) Cornell LAb's All About Birds
- Small Notebook
- (Cornell Lab's Bird ID Phone App: Merlin)
Observing: Go Outside. Look. Listen. Bring conscious attention to what you see and hear.
Basic cycle of observation:
- Look and Listen
- Repeat from beginning
- Consult References
- Repeat from beginning
Family Groupings: A useful way to make sense of the RFW list of 146 Species.
- Families have shared characteristics.
- Identifying birds to the family level is a strong first step.
- In field guides, families are listed in evolutionary order.
Seasonal Groupings: Another useful way to make sense of the RFW list of 146 Species.
- Year-round Species: Present during all seasons.
- Transients: Pass through during spring and fall migrations.
- Winter Visitors: Present only in the winter. (move north or upslope for breeding)
- Migrant Summer Breeders: Arrive during spring migration, breed locally and leave during fall migration.
Range Maps reveal migratory patterns of a species.
eBird Bar Charts reveal migratory patterns of a species.
Background Reading: "Observing" (Use the menu in the upper left corner to go to "Observing")
- Take paper and pencil outside. Make a list of everything you hear: car, bird, plane, far-off bird, Robin singing, neighbors hammering, etc.
- Take paper and pencil outside. Make a list of everything you see: Cottonwood, Apple tree, large bird flying left, group of small birds on the ground that show white in their tails when they flit around, airplane flying over, large black bird, etc.
- Observe a bird through binoculars. Verbally describe every feature you can find: color(s), bill size and shape, interesting head patterns, tail length, what it is doing, where it is (high, low, in bush, on tree), etc.
- Take paper and pencil outside. Listen to a bird sound. Try to mimic the rhythm of the sound. Try to mimic the whole sound. Use dashes, dots, squiggles, rising and falling lines or other symbols to notate the sound.
Familes: Background reading:
Go to "Identifying Birds", then "Families" and "Passerines".
- Use the Menu in the upper left to navigate to "Photo Bird Lists".
- On the left side of the page, use the "Select a Family Grouping".
- Select a family from the list, then click submit.
- (To select a different Family, Use the "back" button of your browser to return to the "Photo Bird Lists" page.)
- For each family listed, look at and describe the bills (beaks) of each species shown:
- Swans, Geese and Ducks
- Long-legged Wading Birds
- Tyrant Flycatchers
- Sparrows and Their Allies
Seasonal Groupings: Background reading:
Go to "Migration View", then "Migration - Background" and "Migration - Schematic Model".
Go to "Identifying Birds", then "Where? When? - Checklist - Bar Charts".
Go to the eBird Bar Chart for Rio Fernando Wetlands on eBird.org:
View eBird Bar Chart for Rio Fernando Wetlands
As you slowly scroll down, note at least one species from each of the 15-species blocks.
Determine the species Seasonal Grouping: Winter Visitor, Migrant Summer Breeder, Transient, Year-round Species, "not sure".
Help: As a reminder or aid, revisit this version of the RFW Bar Chart.
Use the Menu in the upper left to navigate to "Photo Bird Lists".
On the left side of the page, use the "Select a Single Species".
Select a Species from either the "Taxonomic" or Alphabetic" list, then click submit.
(To select a different Species, Use the "back" button of your browser to return to the "Photo Bird Lists" page.)
For what ever species you choose, note that the RFW Bar Chart information is depicted in the graph in the right-hand column. (If there are two charts, it is the upper one.)
General Exercise: Spend time with a Field Guide noticing differences between families of birds. For individual species, note the range maps and the brief description of its sounds. If you do not own a field guide, use this one online: All About Birds from The Cornell Lab of Ornithology.