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Start Birding Today: When Should I Go? (by Lee Dusing)

Wood Storks in Trees in Fog at Circle B
Wood Storks in Trees in Fog at Circle

Start Birding Today: When Should I Go?

You can go birdwatching anytime, but you may or may not find many birds. There are benefits of finding out when the birds you are looking for is out and about. In the beginning stages of birding, you just want to find birds, right?

The flowers appear on the earth; The time of singing has come, And the voice of the turtledove Is heard in our land. (Song of Solomon 2:12 NKJV)

To start, most birds are active in the morning. Many around sunrise are getting up and are hungry from resting all night. Just like us, they need some “breakfast.” They start stretching, singing, searching for a meal. Give or take around 11:00 am they are resting or starting to settle down for most of the afternoon. Then around 3 or 4, depending on the time of the year, they start looking for a snack or meal before they again settle in for the night.

If you have feeders in your yard, the same is true. The morning and for a few hours before dark will be your most active times to see the birds.

Birds that roost together as a flock start heading to their night-time hangout. For instance, locally at Circle B Bar Reserve, the Herons, Egrets, Wood Storks, Ibises and White Pelicans (during winter) come back in to rest for the night. One of my neatest experiences was when the White Pelicans started arriving at Circle B around 4:45 pm for the night. (Ignore my crazy talk, I was just flabbergasted!)

If you like to see Owls, Nighthawks, Whip-poor-wills, and the other night birds, then, they are quiet in the daytime, but come out to “hoot” and “holler” right around dark and throughout the night. They start settling down around dawn.

Weather is a big factor also in when to go. Fog makes it hard. Windy days will cause the many birds to stay low. It is as if they are “grounded.” Rain of course makes it rough on you to go out and watch and they are seeking shelter which can make them harder to observe. They are out there and they still get hungry. Also, down here in the winter, we get lots of visiting birds and that is a good time of the year to watch our feathered friends.

Mom and Baby at Lake Hollingsworth
Mom and Baby at Lake Hollingsworth

“Many birdwatchers occupy themselves with observing local species (birding in their “local patch”, but may also make specific trips to observe birds in other locales. The most active times of the year for birding in temperate zones are during the spring or fall migrations when the greatest variety of birds may be seen. On these occasions, large numbers of birds travel north or south to wintering or nesting locations. Early mornings are typically better as the birds are more active and vocal making them easier to spot.

Weather plays an important role in the occurrence of rare birds. In Britain, suitable wind conditions may lead to drift migration, and an influx of birds from the east. In North America, birds caught in the tail-end of a hurricane may be blown inland.” (Wikipedia) This is not an in-depth study, just some of my tips to get you started in your birdwatching adventure. Trust you are enjoying our series, Start Birding Today.

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