Sunday, September 15, 2013

A LIttle Birdie Told Me

My son has become a birder.  As a result, my grandchildren have become mini-birders.  One of the activities they engage in is the spring and fall migrant bird count.  Last spring, I decided I would tag along and see what all the excitement was about.

We arrived at a park in Dunedin, Florida at about 8 a.m. on a Sunday morning.

The Audubon Society approves this research project.

My son leads his three children deep into the park.

Along the way, we spotted this huge spider web.

We finally reached the canopy where the master birder has set up his instruments.  He measures and weighs each bird they catch, identifies the species and the sex, then bands it.  The notations about the birds are entered in a book of record.

A lot of the birds captured this day were little warblers, like this one.

After all the measuring and identification, he hands off the bird to a spectator who holds it until it flies free.  This is my oldest granddaughter holding a bird.

Another but larger bird.

The birder uses an identification guide to help the kids figure out what kind of bird they've captured.

Another warbler.  I never realized how colorful our song birds were.

This is a black and white warbler.

Two barred owls heard all the chirping of the captured birds and flew over to see what was up.  

Probably the biggest bird caught was this catbird.

I was given the privilege of holding that bird for release.  Instead, it snuggled right down into my hands and took its time before flying away.

A familiar sight -- a male cardinal.

Here, one of the volunteers removes a bird from the misting net.

My 4 year old granddaughter holds the cloth bag that the bird will be slipped into once it is extricated.

The master birder points out some coloration to my granddaughter.

This was a small woodpecker that was captured.

As we left the park, we spotted a hummingbird nest with this hummingbird flying in to check on it.  It's a little hard to spot but you can see its wings on the center branch. We would never have seen the next if we hadn't seen the hummingbird.

It was a long morning and it wiped out the little one.  

I thoroughly enjoyed the morning.  It was great to see the kids out in nature, enjoying themselves but also learning by experience as well as by books.  They learn about the birds, for sure, but also how to classify and why it's important to respect the natural world.