Monday, May 2, 2011

Signs of Spring- Bird Sightings

Birds have been active in my neck of the woods. This morning, my daughter heard this one before she saw it. She rushed inside to mimic it's call to me. We watched it for as long as we could before we had to leave for school.

We put our hummingbird feeder out this week. Within one hour we had our first visitor.

Even as I'm writing this in my screened in porch, the number of birds in my yard is astounding...
I literally just stopped typing to snap these photos from within my porch. (The photo quality isn't great because I shot them through a screen, but they help make my point.)

 And then there are these impressive birds that have been hovering over my yard for the past few weeks. Anyone know what they are? Leave your guesses in the comments.

ADDED May 10, 2010
I can now say with confidence that the first bird is a Turkey Vulture and the second one is an Osprey.

Also, while browsing in my favorite, local Indie bookstore, Baker Books, I found this book the other day:

It would be a fantastic addition to a study of birds of prey. Large "gatefolds" (pages that fold out) help readers comprehend the size of the birds wingspans.
END added material.

Birds are everywhere. Regardless of whether you live in a rural, urban, or suburban area, you can enjoy birdwatching with your children and students. Learning their names may appeal to some children but learning about nature does not require labeling the species you see. Some even argue that labeling stops the learning- once you know the name of a bird, you can look it up and learn facts from another source. If you don't know the name, you tend to focus on making your own observations and end up with a more intimate knowledge of the animal.

If bird watching appeals to you and your students I highly recommend Inquiry at the Window:

 You can also read my post on Hummingbirds from last year.

Have you been noticing lots of birds in your area? What have you been seeing? Please be sure to tell us your general geographical area.


  1. Hi Michelle,

    My backyard has been extremely active as well. My feathered friends are emptying the feeders at an astounding rate.

    Over April vacation my family and I went to Scottsdale, Arizona. I sat for hours trying to snap photos of the roadrunners. Turns out they are very fast! I captured only one acceptable shot. I found them very entertaining and they made me smile every morning. They are not the most attractive bird but when they run they are quite cute. I guess you could say they have great character. Beep beep.

    The resort was also equipped with the tamest blue heron I have ever seen. He waltzed around as if he owned the place. I got within a foot of him and snapped a wonderful picture. He never flinched. He truly had nerves of steel because even all the children buzzing around him didn't startle him.

    The highlight of my bird gazing was watching a Great-tailed Grackle build a nest. Watching him carefully select his materials was fascinating and I marveled at his intense concentration. There were many people and potential distractions but he never skipped a beat. I sat for an hour before giving up, he definitely had more stamina than I.

    Happy bird watching!!

    ~Tracy Dean

  2. Wow, Tracy, you've had some great birdwatching! I haven't been to the Southwest. I'd especially love to see a roadrunner.

    Would you like to share your photos with us? I could put them in a future post if you'd like. Email me directly at michelle(at)michellecusolito(dot)com

    Why do you think the birds were so (seemingly)unaffected by humans?

  3. I'm guessing that the first impressive bird is a turkey vulture. The second I'm not so sure...a raptor of some kind, but which one? Red-tailed hawk maybe?
    Marianne K. (writing from my own screen porch somewhere in woodsy New England)

  4. Hello Marianne,
    First and foremost, let me say that I am NOT a bird expert. I originally thought the first bird was a Bald Eagle (They nest on the lakes behind my house). The light was tough that day. I couldn't get any sense of the bird's coloration so identification has to be done based on the silhouette alone. A friend also suggested it's turkey vulture. Now that I've looked up turkey vultures, I believe you and my friend are correct.

    I'm fairly certain the second one is an Osprey, which is a bird I haven't seen in our area much (I see lots of them on Cape Cod) but have heard they are making a comeback here.

    What do you think readers?

  5. This is really interesting! Those are amazing birds you have seen so close. Thanks so much for sharing it with me- now I realize I need to read your archives as well as your new posts!

    1. This is one of my challenges... how to bring new visitors to my archives! I have some good content that's not being read. Do you have any suggestions?