After being gone for three months to S. CA and Arizona, it was good to come back home to Ridgefield NWR and listen to and see the familiar birds of this area. I find myself comfortable (perhaps too comfortable) with the songs/calls and identifying marks of the refuge birds. Birding hundreds of miles away always presents the challenge of learning (sometimes over again) the songs and identifying marks of birds that you are not completely sure of or haven’t seen for a long time, like the Elegant Trogan, which I was fortunate to be able to have seen for the last three years. I find myself checking bird guides and listening to bird songs on my iPod much more than I do here at home.
I am very appreciative of the tremendous variety of field guides that are now available for the beginning or advanced nature explorer, some of them being very specific to certain areas of the country. When I first started birding, many years ago, I started with the Golden Field Guide for Birds of North America. I still have that little field guide, held together with rubber bands and paper clips, but holding a treasure of notes and dates from years ago. I have since transferred all of those notes and dates to a spread sheet where I now keep track of the birds I have seen. I have also graduated to other field guides, with the National Audubon Society’s the Sibley Guide to Birds being my favorite. But, many times I also find myself checking Peterson’s Guide, Kaufman’s and several other guides when I have a particular bird that I am finding difficult to identify.
If you do not have at present a field guide to the specific nature area that interests you, I encourage you to get one right away. Your world will broaden tremendously as you read about the habits, locations, and identifying marks of the birds, flowers, trees, mammals, etc. that are your passion.
If you would like to see some of the possible field guide options, stop by the visitor kiosk at the River “S” and ask to see what we have. Any good book store will also have an abundance of options that you can choose from. Bur wherever you go, make sure you get one, or two good field guides and get started in broadening your natural world.
Some of the unusual birds that have been seen at the River “S” over the last month are Golden Eagle, Common Teal, Eurasian Teal, Cooper’s Hawk, Greater Scaup, Pileated Woodpecker, Northern Shrike, Varied Thrush, Pine Siskin, Lincoln’s Sparrow, Rufous Hummingbird, Redhead, Common Merganser, Peregrine Falcon, Northern Rough-winged and Cliff Swallow, Greater White-fronted Goose, Blue-winged Teal, Orange-crowned Warbler.
This is migration time for birds. Come and enjoy the variety of birdlife at the refuge and don’t forget to bring a good field guide!