Thursday, October 17, 2013

Importance of bird habitats in birding

American Oystercatchers on Little Tybee Island
A birder will not look for shorebirds in the forests.  Of course not.  Habitats are important in birding.  If you want to improve your birding skills, you need to know where to look for the birds.  
 We saw these American Oystercatchers on Little Tybee Island, outside of Savannah.  
American Oystercatchers feeders on ...oysters!
My wife and I have been backyard birdwatchers at one time and enjoyed all the pretty birds that came to their feeders.   
As birders, however, we quickly realized that to see more birds and build a fun "life list" of bird species, we had to venture out to the habitats where other birds dwell.  
It's still fun to enjoy the American Goldfinches, the Brown Thrashers, Northern Cardinals, Tufted Titmice, Carolina Wrens... in your backyard.  The typical birder will not be satisfy with that only.  Sure, you may get the occasional surprise bird like the Rose-breasted Grosbeak we got this year at the feeder.  Some birders attract a much greater variety of bird species in their backyards.  
    To see more birds, you simply have to be aware of the importance of bird habitats.  Only certain birds will come to a backyard in the city.  If a person has a backyard with a lake, a river, the ocean, the mountains in the background, and a piece of marshy wetland in another corner over there, that lucky person will see a lot lot of birds.  Do you know anyone like that? 

To see different bird species, we simply have to go to different bird habitats.  And the more habitats we visit, the more challenging and fascinating the whole birding hobby becomes.  Why? Because we're learning about different bird families, different bird behavior, and sometimes, we're using different birding equipment. 

Brown Booby with various terns 
 I learned from first hand experience that the birds you see on open waters are different than what you would expect to see on land.  A different type of birding.  And some people are quite good at it. 
Gannets, boobies, terns, and tropicbirds roam the seas for years before coming back to land.  How do you see a Red-necked Phalarope, a Magnificent Frigatebird, a Sooty Tern and such without going out to sea? Same thing applies to the mountains, desert, and coastal birds. Not to forget the Arctics and other places.  There are roughly ten thousand (10,000) bird species in the world and only about one thousand in North America (1,000).  This hobby can be quite adventurous if you stop and think about it. 
 This Painted Bunting is more gorgeous in real life than in the picture above.  We saw it in Skidaway Island on the Georgia coast.  This is just in "our backyard" so to speak.  But I've never seen one in my backyard.  I had to go to a different bird habitat to see a bunch of them breeding and singing their heart out.  Compared to the various birding habitats available to us around the world, the coastal Georgia area is just our backyard to start with...for a Georgia birder.  And a Maine coastal area is ...for a Maine birder.
This  Green Heron was spotted in Alabama.  Sure, we have them in Georgia too, but it helps to check out the neighboring States as we're expanding our birding habitats.  As Georgia birders, we've seen several bird species for the first time in Florida and Alabama.  Change habitats, see different birds.  Simple.  And build a diverse life list. 
  Yes, the key for more birds is in the different habitats.  You want to enjoy how fun birding is, and improve your skills in the process? Check out different habitats.

Happy birding!
Make comments, thanks.

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