Bird Photography: Use your birding skills!

Long-billed Curlew_WaddellBeach-BigBasinSP-CA_LAH_0768As birders, we have an advantage over other photographers wishing to photograph birds. We know our subjects. All those skills we’ve garnered in our years of stalking lifers and observing birdy behavior are about to pay off—big time!.

Finding birds is easier for us birders. We know where the hotspots are. (If in doubt, check out the field trip destinations from any birding club website.) For example, Colorado birders know that Mt. Evans and Guanella Pass are often productive places to search for ptarmigan, while Clark’s Nutcrackers and Gray Jays can almost always be found at the Rainbow Curve pull-out in Rocky Mountain National Park.

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An Anthropologist’s Take on Birders: Part 2

birding_venetucci_20090916_lah_06671If you missed Part 1, I’m summarizing some observations made by our daughter, the anthropologist, about our birding tribe.

Language

Any interest group will have it’s own special vocabulary, and birders are no different. For example, there’s a difference between birdwatchers, birders, and listers (or twitchers, if you’re British). Each word has its own nuance. “Birdwatchers” are recreational birders, enjoying birds wherever they find them but not really going out of their way or keeping track of what they’ve seen. They may actually have the most fun, since there’s no pressure and they take the time to really look at the birds they see.

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An Anthropologist’s Take on Birders: Part 1

birding_venetucci_20090916_lah_0667Anthropologists, being scientists, are good at taking complex topics and breaking them down into manageable pieces. Whereas my husband views birders as nice-but-slightly-eccentric people, our anthropologist daughter dissects us into pieces—clothing, rituals, language, and the like. I took notes and came up with this list. Although our daughter is not, herself, a birder, I think she knows us pretty well. What do you think?

Clothing
t-shirt-boobiesThe first thing most “normal” people notice about a group of birders is what we’re wearing. A floppy hat is essential for keeping the sun out of our eyes and preventing sunburn. A few hat pins are acceptable decoration, especially if they’re from exceptional birding locations. Beige or green pants and shirt are popular, as are vests with lots of pockets. Tennis shoes are fine, but comfortable hiking boots are preferred. Practicality trumps fashion, but we do have a dress code: nothing flashy, blend in with your surroundings, be prepared to be outdoors. A t-shirt with a bird on it is good, and you get extra points if the design is funny.

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A Welcome Mat for Bluebirds

Western Bluebird_2524f-001Everyone loves bluebirds, and for good reason. They are beautiful to look at, faithfully provide for their families, and eat thousands of insects that might otherwise damage our gardens. However, a lack of nest sites for these cavity-nesting birds has caused a serious decline in their numbers. If you, like me, would love to have a pair of bluebirds sharing your yard, it helps to know a little about what the birds prefer. How can you make your yard more bluebird-friendly?

Bluebirds prefer to live in trees next to open fields. They perch and nest in the trees, and search for insects in the grass nearby. You can find Eastern and Western Bluebirds in orchards or forests next to meadows, farm fields, or grasslands.

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