12 Feb Big Birds: Here, There, Everywhere!
As a child who grew up in the 70’s and 80’s, I can speak directly to the lack of large bird sightings. The Sandhill Cranes, Red-tailed Hawks, Bald Eagles, and owls of all kinds that are seen regularly today were a rare sighting indeed. It’s been very exciting for me to see bald eagles. In fact, I never saw a real live bald eagle in the wild until 2018. I can remember pretty clearly the first time I saw a Sandhill Crane in a field next to our home. We didn’t know what kind of bird it was! Now that same field will have dozens of them. Spring evenings at dusk can be pretty noisy when they begin to migrate back into the area. Their calls make me think of prehistoric birds like Pterodactyls. I can also remember the first wild turkey sighting I had. It was in the early 90’s at Kingsbury Fish and Wildlife area.
It’s exciting to see the diversity of bird species return to this area. That can only be a good thing. It tells us that the environment locally and beyond is improving. Birds are a great indicator because they migrate nationally and internationally. The increasing numbers of wild animals and diversity of those species has been remarkably observable over the the last 30 years.
This time of year is a great time for bird observations. On New Year’s Day my children and I saw a Bald Eagle. It roosted in a tree near our house and we watched it for some time. It reminded me this is Bald Eagle mating season. Right now is prime time for eagle nesting and a great time to see pairs of eagles preparing to incubate and hatch chicks from now until April. Full moon winter nights are a great time to hear and see owls. Backyard bird feeders provide a great way to see and learn about many kinds of birds. In fact, you can participate in helping researchers get clear pictures of the numbers of types of birds in your area by participating in the Great Backyard Bird Count.
The next GBBC is February 15-18, 2019. Bird watchers of all ages count birds to create a real-time snapshot of where birds are. There is even an app called eBird launched by the Cornell Lab of Ornithology where you can interact with other birders and see where different species are near you as well as report sightings. There’s a free online class to help you get started with eBird. There are so many resources if you want to learn more about birds in Indiana that I can’t possibly begin to scratch the surface but I can share a few. The Indiana DNR, Audubon Society, and Cornell Lab of Ornithology can get you started. The Library has a wide selection of print materials to help you as well. Search using the subject “bird watching” will return several results. Other subject searches that you might like are: “bird attracting” or “Birds –North America –Identification”. Happy birding!