Although there are a lot of downsides to COVID-19, one plus is that it’s given me lots of time to get out and go bird watching! I have been dabbling in birding for a few years now, but all my spare time has allowed me to really dive in and get outside.
I think one of the most rewarding thing about this lovely hobby is how quickly you learn. Each time you get a new ID, it comes with the satisfaction of being able to name that bird on the spot the next time you’re out in the field. It’s a super easy pastime to get into because all you need to get started is a rough idea of which features look for and it’s always helpful to have a regional bird book on hand.
Often times, bright and unique plumage is the fastest way to make an ID but it’s not always so easy when one little brown bird look almost exactly like its buddy on the next branch over. When this happens, there are some handy things to look for if you see a bird you don’t recognize:
- for shorebirds and gulls in particular, I find the ID features that are most helpful to remember are leg and bill colour and then work your way down from there. Sometimes with gulls it can even be handy to take a look at eye colour as well, if you can.
- it’s never a bad idea to make a note of the plumage pattern on the breast. Is it horizontal or vertically barred? Is it speckled or bare, light or heavy?
- sometimes an eyebrow or an eye stripe can be the distinguishing feature between two different birds that resemble each other so keep your eye out for that
I am looking forward to the spring migration that is already underway here in BC and if anyone is ever in Southern Vancouver Island and is looking for a socially distanced birding buddy, let me know!