A few days ago, I saw a flash of light blue move through the cherry tree outside my office window. In no more than seven seconds it darted rapidly between small branches and was off. In that quick flash I swore I saw white wing bars and a neckband. Did I just see my favorite bird of all, the cerulean warbler? I mean, they are still migrating so it is possible. But a cerulean? At home?
I ran downstairs and onto my back deck hoping to hear its unmistakable song. Alas, this would not be the day I could confirm the presence of a cerulean at my home. Instead I was greeted to a symphony of birdsong from cardinals, gray catbirds, a tufted titmouse, and one very loud Carolina wren, all from my backyard.
How lucky was I to be serenaded by birdsong? I felt connected to the natural world and it also stirred up a sense of normalcy. I encourage you to channel your inner John James Audubon and begin bird watching from your backyard, too.
The beauty of bird watching (or birding) is that it can be done from just about anywhere, including the most urban of areas. Best of all, you do not need to spend a dime, just listen and observe.
Begin by researching the common birds in your area and learn their identifiable features and behaviors. Purchase or borrow a bird guide and some binoculars. The most popular birding book is The Sibley Guide to Birds because of its beautiful lifelike sketches. Other great field guides include Peterson Field Guide to Birds of North America and the National Wildlife Federation Field Guide to Birds of North America. If you cannot locate a copy, the Internet has a plethora of birding resources plus tips on identifying birds by their song.
The Cornell Lab of Ornithology website, my personal favorite, is an excellent resource and provides audio samples of calls and songs of every bird you may encounter, among other identification and birding tips. (www.allaboutbirds.org)
Every picture here was taken either in my backyard or on my back deck. Birding allows you to enjoy nature right from home. Long live birds; may we continue to appreciate their grace and beauty.