Wednesday, March 16, 2011

Gotta ♥ NJ

for its birds!

Birds, you may ask.  Here is the tale.

Due to our move to NJ, we spent a lot of time in TN during the Thanksgiving and Christmas holidays.  We were dropping cars and dogs off as well as trying to keep plans that we had made before finding out about our move. During that Thanksgiving trip, my mom gave S an Audubon Field Guide to North American Birds.  You may think this an odd gift, but S loves these types of books and gets them out periodically to marvel at our world.  She has an Animals of North America one that she has enjoyed for a couple of years now. The point, however, was that S was in a bird phase.  She kept the book with her all through Christmas.

When we got to NJ, we began receiving the free newspapers that give info on local events.  We are not very good newspaper people, but we were trying so that we might learn about our new place.  So, there I was eating my bagel and drinking my coffee on a peaceful Saturday morning when I see it: A Winter Bird Walk for kids 4-6 at The Great Swamp Outdoor Education Center in Chatham, NJ which is about 10 minutes from our house.  Yay! I called up the babysitter and made a date so that S and I could enjoy a tour the following Monday.

The walk was a bit of a bust since the temperature dropped about 10 degrees while the nice guide was familiarizing us with common birds of this region.  But we did get to enjoy the birds that were around the feeders outside while he was speaking! He also had stuffed specimens which should have been a bit sad, but really they were better than just photos.  AND the tour introduced us to the Great Backyard Bird Count (GBBC)!

The GBBC is a project that allows bird watchers of all shapes, sizes, and expertise levels to help scientists get an idea of bird populations and movements around North America.  All you have to do is bird watch for at least  15 minutes, take note of what you see, and then submit your findings on the website.

I would not have been a very helpful participant as all I can do is say, "Look I see a bird." Unless said bird is a robin, cardinal, or blue jay, I am clueless. However, the girls have a particular uncle in TN who just so happened to have taken a couple of ornithology classes during his time at college and unlike most of us, he remembers what he learned!  So, it was plain ol' good luck that our trip down corresponded with the GBBC.

One afternoon during Presidents' Day weekend,  Uncle Birdwatcher took Tante Sonja, Tante Heather and four kids on a bird watching walk near their house.  We saw hawks, vultures, woodpeckers, chickadees, and several others that I have now forgotten.  We even heard (and could identify) others by their calls.  It was quite a cool afternoon activity.

Now, we are back home and I don't know the reason, be it mature trees in the yard or just the variety of birds here or perhaps being so close to a National Refuge,  but we are seeing new birds everyday.  And with the help of  a certain field guide (which we are still learning to use), an iPhone app, and a few calls to Uncle Birdwatcher we are starting to see and identify more of our feathered friends.  Our new bird feeder is also helping attract the fast little critters so that we have more time to identify them.

S below new bird feeder.  Notice the rain boots.  Apparently, our backyard is a little swamp of its own!

A Carolina Chickadee (Could be a Black-capped Chickadee but I think it is a Carolina one.)
Northern Cardinal-a bit blurry but they are quick and the feeder spins.

So, Ive gotta love NJ for its birds!

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