Friday, July 25, 2014

Challenges and Rewards of Birding in the Summer in Georgia

Georgia Veterans State Park
Why should there be any challenge birding in the summer to start with? Wouldn't you think birding is only about rewards?

There are challenges birding in GA and in the Southeast for that matter.  It's hot to start with.  People don't like to be out on birding trails in the heat of the summer.

About the heat of the South...let's keep one thing in mind.  Some of the prettiest bird species in the world are in the tropics where it's...yes, hot and humid.  And birders go out of their way to see them.

Another challenge? The bugs! They come with the heat.  In Georgia, we have chiggers and ticks, mosquitoes, yellow flies, and gnats.  There are all kinds of bug sprays you can use for protection, right?  We have four seasons in the U.S. so we don't have to dose ourselves with chemicals (repellents) all year.  We'll only loose a couple of weeks in longevity with the poison on our bodies to see some pretty birds.  Wash off quickly after birding.  That's what I do.

Last but not least.  For many birders, it's about the lists.  Year-lists, life-lists, State lists, (County lists too?)...  Birders make it challenging for themselves to keep birding in the summer after they feel they've already seen the species in their areas.  They want to see something new.  The attitude is "got this already this year, no need to keep going back out to see the same birds".  
Limpkin.  Courtesy Jerry Amerson.
The rewards? Plenty.  I'll just share some.
There are more birds to appreciate in the summer than any other time of the year.  The few migrant warblers we get excited about in the spring and fall do not compare to the greater number of our residents, and summer breeding species.  

This is the difference, the second reward.  We are not seeing the same birds in the summer.  Wintering ducks come but don't breed in the South.  Migrant warblers don't linger for nesting and breeding either.  Our summer species allow us to appreciate the courtship rituals, the nesting phase that is always fun to watch, these cute fledglings venturing out and begging for food, juveniles learning to make it on their own.  That's great rewarding birding!

The above reward is truly what makes birding enjoyable.  That's observing and appreciating birds life.  In addition to that, we can see the change in plumage as the chicks go from down to colorful feathers progressively.  Summer is a great time to practice juvenile plumage identification.  

Have you ever seen a juvenile Northern Cardinal feed his or her younger siblings? Totally beautiful.  Big brother taking care of little brother.  Or the Eastern Towhees and Brown Thrashers showing their young how to get food on the ground?

Birding in the summer allows us to wonder how some of these little creatures can be so caring, loving, persistent, and good parents.  It's greatly rewarding to attract birds in our backyards and enjoy them; longer than in any other season.  Backyard birdwatching, great and rewarding in the summer.

Last but not least, we do have plenty of interesting species that pop up in the summer months.  We miss them when we slow down.  The above picture is of a Limpkin at the Georgia Veterans State Park near Cordele.  Jerry Amerson took the picture.  Thanks, Jerry!

A Limpkin in Georgia? Certainly.  Not very far from there, in Albany, are Monk Parakeets nesting.  I already went twice and saw them.  Beautiful indeed.  I'm waiting for the babies to start playing outside so I can go back again.  We have Roseate Spoonbills in Talbot County right now, various Sandpipers in Bartow and Lee Counties, Wilson's Phalarope in Dougherty County, and many more interesting species around in the State.

Sure, there are some challenges that can slow down birders in the summer.  The rewards greatly make up for the summer heat  Let's go out and enjoy birding!


Anne said...

Great article! Time to go birding! Now where's my sunscreen and bug spray?...

Shannon Fair said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Shannon Fair said...

You are so right! Love seeing our breeding birds and their families!!! My summer scent is Eau de Off!!!

Andre Coquerel said...

Anne, yes time to go birding. Dosing in bug spray on the coast now.

Shannon, funny about the "Eau de Off".
You can always switch back to Eau de Cologne after you wash off the "Off".
Nice to see you enjoy "bird observing" too.