Saturday, June 17, 2006

Birds have wings...and tend to use them

I love birds. When ever I get the chance I am watching for them, listening for them. I'm not a hard core birder, but I just really enjoy having them around and am really mad at myself when I get somewhere and don't have my binoculars with me and I see a bird in the distance and don't know what it is.

I just want to share two little experiences I've had today with birds. I was visiting with a group of kids doing a Junior Ranger program about the water cycle. We hadn't really stared yet, so we were just chatting about different things. Last week I lead a bird walk, and one of the kids and his mom who were on that bird walk had come to my program today. He was telling me he heard a bird this morning, imitated it, and the bird returned his call. He made the sound and asked me what it was. I told him it was a chickadee, and right after that we heard one not far from us. Then I started demonstrating what "pishing" was, making the scolding call of some song birds which often draws them near you out of curiosity. I had made a couple of pishing noises and a chickadee flew right over into the tree we were under. We had several minutes to just watch him up close. We talked about his markings, and how there are two common chickadees in this area. So when he flew away, we looked him up in a bird book, and discovered he was the Mountain Chickadee. I was excited jut because my pishing was successful. I haven't ever been very good at it. And it made this kid pretty excited to see this bird up close and be able to identify it.

Later in the day, I was walking along a trail to go and check out the park's amphitheater when a bright blue bird flashed not far in front of me and landed on a rock. I had my binoculars, but he flew away too soon to get a really good look. But I had an overall above, white below with some black and white wing bars. He was so beautiful! I thought it was probably a bunting, but couldn't remember if it was an indigo or lazuli bunting. A quick reference to my field guide identified him as a Lazuli Bunting. I just hadn't seen the rust color on his breast in my quick glimpse. Lazuli Buntings are a common resident here, but they aren't seen too often, so it was fun for me to see one today.

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