February 23rd, 2021
Bird watching is a four-season event in Maine.
In the spring, look for the colorful Warblers that come through at ponds and small lakes around Maine. Summer is a good time to look for Osprey and Eagles that grace much of the shoreline and inland lakes. In the fall, some migratory birds make a return as they fly south and in the winter you might be lucky enough to see a Snowy Owl. There are some birds that can be seen all year long such as Cardinals, Blue Jays, Sparrows, various gulls, and of course, the Maine State bird, the Blacked-capped Chickadee.
Bird watching, or birding, can provide some wonderful, incidental benefits to be appreciated when outdoors. Taking in the fresh air, getting some light exercise, and improving your mood are the reasons most people take up this hobby. Plus it’s a wonderful activity for all ages, especially for children who may otherwise be indoors and too plugged in or less inclined to go outside to enjoy the wonderful gift of nature. In fact, a good place to start might be right in your own backyard.
For some people a birding “Life List” acts like a journal that consists of notes of different birds seen along with the dates and location. You can find these Life List books for sale at your local bird supply store, bookstore, or online. It is also helpful to have an illustrated birding field guide that will help to identify each species of bird you see.
Some birders become familiar with the sounds of birds and this is called “Birding by Ear.” Some birds can be rather chatty, while others may only offer a conservative quiet peep. A free app worth installing in your smart phone is BirdNET that will record, analyze and then show you what bird made the call. Another free app to checkout is called Merlin, hosted by the Cornell Lab. This app has downloadable data for different regions of the country and you are able to look up and view images of birds and play actual sounds of more than 6,000 species.
Photography is a perfect companion to Birding and many people share a serious combined interest. Capturing the images of birds you have seen allows you to share them with others on social media pages dedicated to birding. So, grab your binoculars, pick up a field guide, download a free app, take your camera and go out and enjoy the wonders of nature.
Here are some key resources to help you get started with becoming a birder.
• Ebird.org is a site where you can explore current birding hot spots and species to help you know where to find the birds you’re interested in seeing.
• Your local Audubon Society is a great resource. You can join in on bird walks with an Audubon guide where you can meet people that enjoy birding as well.
• Mainly Birds is an active group on Facebook that I help administrate, where anything from the outdoors is welcome. This is where you will find friendly people to help you with bird identification and more. I have met many photographers in different states and love seeing their photographs.
• Maine.gov/ifw is where you can find the Department of Inland Fisheries and Wildlife. This is also a great resource where there are links to learn about different species of birds and where to find them throughout the state.
Story & Photos by Joyce Love. Joyce has been a wildlife and landscape photographer for over 30 years. In addition, she has become an avid birder. Her love for photography and birds create a perfect combination for this hobby. She currently resides in North Yarmouth and is self-employed.