Wednesday, May 04, 2011

Name that bird

After posting my piece about preparing for the hummingbirds I got to thinking about all the OTHER birds I enjoy watching in my yard. One of the reasons I was so adamant about buying a place that had mature trees was because I just plain like them. But just as importantly, I wanted a place that would provide habitat for my feathered friends.

I don't always know the names of the birds that I see come through here, I just know when I think they are pretty. I'm not all that knowledgeable about birding. But then, I didn't know the names of half the flowers and bushes when we got here. Little by little I've learned to identify most of them. So why not do the same thing with the birds?

I've decided I am going to set up some links on my side bar with references to the birds of Idaho and then I will track the ones that I can identify (both in my yard and when I'm out on walks along the greenbelt.)

One of my sweetest memories of my paternal grandmother, Jane Pendley, is of going for walks with her on the ranch in Oak Creek, AZ, which is now Slide Rock State Park. While she didn't have all that much formal education, that woman was SMART. She knew the names of every plant on the property - even the weeds. She knew the animals. She knew the birds. Having grown up in Oak Creek Canyon from the time she was about seven when she came out on the train with her mother from Oklahoma, Jane knew the land and all its flora and fauna like the back of her hand.

I doubt I'll ever be as knowledgeable of a naturalist as my grandmother was. I live too much in the modern word of media, technology and other interests to make that a live long study the way she did. Still, I am motivated by the words of Edward Everett Hale who said: "I am only one, but still I am one. I cannot do everything, but still I can do something; and because I cannot do everything, I will not refuse to do something that I can do."

So I'm going to start learning about the birds of Idaho. I'll check out some library books and get out my binoculars. I'll do some clicking around on the net at places like:
Idaho Birds.Net
Regional Reports
Digital Atlas of Idaho Birds
Birds of Idaho Field Checklist
Idaho Bird Inventory and Survey

I will admit that last one rather baffles me. Every page is stamped "Review Draft - NOT for distribution" but there it is on the Internet for all to see. What's up with that??

Anyway, I have lots to learn. What birds can I expect to see in this neck of the woods? What do their calls sound like? What is their preferred habitat? What are their migration patterns?

Some people would say WHO CARES? For me though, it feels like embarking on an adventure.

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