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Thread subject: Question for you all:
Name Date Message
Shelley 08/11/04 06:06 pm How many of you are into birding, in general, apart from our common interest in osprey? Do you have bird feeders/birdbaths in your yards/balconies? Do you go birdwatching, can you ID birds by sight and/or call? How long have you been interested in this?

For me, it's a fairly recent hobby, maybe a few years. Oh, I've always been able to identify the common birds, robins, blue jays, cardinals, sparrows, crows, etc. But learning about the less common ones and actively seeking them out, buying binoculars, books, etc, I'd say, for me, the last 3 years or so has opened my eyes so much. It's also partly what made me seek out message boards on the internet, so I could have a place to meet others with the same passion, since not too many of my friends here are interested. I can ask questions, learn so much; I'm always learning....

I know Marie is an avid birder, anyone else?
Marie 08/11/04 06:23 pm Ahhhhhhh Shelly I am an avid birder......I am PASSIONATE about birding. Perhaps others would say I am OBSESSED... ;-)) I have a a whole book shelf unit of bird books from all over the world. I have been birding for 16 yrs. It all started when I hurt my back at work and was off work for three months. In order to get strong again I started walking and then I opened My Eyes and began to SEE... photography came two years later for I wanted to capture those birds I saw on film. Well that led to faster cameras and longer lenses. Sometimes it takes an illness to redirect ones life. It did for me... I work to support my habit! Sounds like I am a junkie...well in a way I am, but what a wonderful way to get DRUNK/EUPHORIC on the sights and sounds of BIRDS.
Celeste 08/11/04 07:06 pm I have always been very interested in birds and animals in general. I thrive on our cable channel called Animal Planet, which features people who work in zoos, animal shelters, dogs, sealife, etc. Like Shelley, in the last 3 years I have been very interested in really learning to identify the birds like Marie is able too. Marie once mentioned that there are birdwatchers who can identify by the shadow of a bird. I find that amazing. And, Shelley when you recommended that book early on this season about the birdwatchers in Central Park, particularly the red-tail hawks, it made me want to learn and be like those devoted birdwatchers of Central Park, New York. When Cecilia mentioned writing in her life-list, I immediately had to start one myself. I was just jotting down here and there. Reading Marie's observations has made me want to learn more and more, and I wish I had a mentor to go birdwatching with. It's so funny to watch my husband and I go through our bird books to identify what we see. We have had a birdbath in our yard for years and feeders also, however, this year we hung a feeder from a tall tree limb in our yard, (It took my husband most of the day to get the line over this limb). This feeder is visible outside my window and the neighborhood birds have "told" too many of their friends and no sooner do we fill the feeder the seed is gone!

I recently bought myself a decent pair of binoculars, and have taken Marie's advice and bring a little notepad along with me on my walks, especially on our favorite walk to the Fire Island Lighthouse along the seashore. I am trying to learn to identify the birds by their calls also. The key word is "trying". However, I don't know why this osprey site "struck me so". I have an intense interest in raptors, particularly osprey. I have a "need" to learn as much as I can, all because of this site. I am hoping to go to Cape May in the fall to witness the migration of the ospreys which they say are in the hundreds flying all at once. If I saw that I would be "just beside myself".

And yes, only recently my own neighbors were "making fun of my enthusiasm" in seeking out osprey nests on Long Island! I don't mind. To be able to really stop and smell the roses is "sacred". I believe we should acknowledge the gifts that we have been given on this earth and preserve them for future generations. Life can be difficult for us all, and to learn about these creatures who share this earth with us, helps to look for the "joy" in each day as my Mom has taught me.
Dave S 08/11/04 08:11 pm I started birding in the mid 1960's. My first trip was with two people named Art Cooley and Dennis Puleston. Art was a family friend who introduced me to Dennis. Dennis was an incredibly patient teacher in the woods. I was 14 and full of questions. Dennis would never hesitate to stop and explain things to me, whether it was a bird, a mushroom, a frog or whatever; he had the time and was so willing to share his knowledge. I had the pleasure of birding with Dennis over the years, and I even have one of his original paintings of a Great Blue Heron. I am not a great birder, but I can identify many species by their varied calls and have three feeders and ten baths in my yard. The DPOF has given me a chance to see Ospreys in ways I never thought possible and your postings have expanded my knowledge of not only Ospreys, but other birds. I truly enjoy all of your thoughts and comments. Thank you!
Shelley 08/11/04 08:42 pm WOW! Thank YOU, Dave! What an illustrious start you had to your career! And isn't it interesting how a *chance* meeting, a connection made early in life, can point a young person in a direction that they may not have otherwise considered?

And now, the internet has opened doors, too, in ways that were never even imaginable....
Cecilia 08/11/04 09:09 pm I've been joking for years that when you turn 50 you start growing geraniums and watching birds...then one day it dawned on me that I had bird feeders and birdbaths and containers of bird seed everywhere...and wouldn't you know it...I had turned 50 :-)

First I learned all of our back yard birds, then I got into birds that live in wetland areas and now I'm hooked on raptors (obviously). Dennis didn't mind all of the bird books (Petersons, Audubon, Sibleys etc) but when I started playing Peterson's "Birding by Ear" he got a liitle testy :-) So I'm still a little rusty when it comes to bird calls but I've learned many, from the tapes and in the field.

Like Celeste said, I did start a life list that I keep in my favorite Field Guide which is Petersons. If I don't have it with me when I see a bird that I don't think I've seen before I write a note on anything handy and transfer it eventually. I'm realizing as I write this that I've never totaled it up...I guess I'm not one for numbers...but I've been fortunate to get to see a lot of birds since we spend so much time canoeing.

I can't tell you how many times I have seen a bird and knew right away that I had never seen it before but also knew that it was familiar...from years of looking at field guides and bird pictures the knowledge just sneaks in. I can usually go to my Petersons Guide and find the bird in a second or two, based on size and bill type and color. I get such a kick out of seeing and identifying something new (to me)'s like a puzzle that needs to be solved!

Sometimes I will hear a bird song or call that I know is unusual, or at least one that I don't hear around here every day, and I go flying outside to see if I can find it. One night I made Dennis get up at 2:00 am to go out and walk down the street towards the weirdest sound I had ever turned out to be a Screech Owl and now we hear it every fall and we drag our neighbors out to hear it with us, if it isn't too late. Needless to say, they all think we're a little over the top :-)

Anyway, I've been animal crazy since I was a kid and this site has given me such joy...I just love being able to see how our osprey family lives, learning to recognize their various calls and behaviors and seeing them grow up has been so much fun! And "meeting" all of you nice people has been the icing on the cake! I'm so fortunate to be able to work at home so I can leave the cam on and go about my job. The "kids" are chattering in the background along with the cockatiels that I keep in my office so I have good company as I draw. I will really miss them when they're gone but I'm consoled by the belief that they will be back next year...and I really should buckle down and get more work done :-)

PS: I have resisted the urge to buy geraniums...
Lori 08/11/04 11:04 pm I'm not as serious as I would like to be... but I'm on my way. Unfortunatley time and money is not necessarily on my side. I've got a couple years untill I'm 50 but I do have the feeders and I can identify the birds in the yard and when John & I go on road trips and canoeing we both try to name the different birds we see. John is much better than I. Ospreys have always been my favorites & I've grown kinda sentimental with turkey buzzards-only see them when we go on vacation but as soon as I spot one I know I'm truely away from work and on "osprey time". The Buzzards seem to be everywhere! Cecilia..... I've already planted the geraniums!! :-)
Marie 08/12/04 12:19 am This is so good to read about everyones involvement in the BIRD world. What a splendid 'Thread' Shelley and what great responses. As you know I live in an apartment with what I concider is the best view in Victoria. It overlooks a picturesque bay where little boats tie up and nod their sleepy heads every evening as the sun dips over the horizon. MT .Baker off in the distance, glows in the soft colours of the setting sun. I sit here looking at that very scene I describe right now. I do have a balcony so can sit, watch and listen to the birds. I do grow geraniums too in planters... ;-) Last year one of my planters was turned into a nursery for six baby house finches. They chose me and not the other way round. One end of the balcony was home to the house finches and the other end housed the Violet-green Swallows. A busy and noisy place last June/July. Two baby swallows last year and three this year. I am blessed. Next year I hope I will have 'Hummers' for I hear them all the time whizzing by. I can't fit a bird bath on the balcony but I put shallow containers down with water for the birds, especially in hot weather.
Dave, Celeste, Cecilia, Shelley and Lori what great stroies you have shared and Dave if you have been in the company of Dennis Puleston and have been birding since the 60's then you have to be a GREAT BIRDER. Just would love to know if there are any Chimney Swifts around your area? If so, could they have been some of the early(Spring) SCREAMERS that we used to hear on the cam in the evening. Were they infact birds? My world is full of birds. I wouldn't have it any other way.
Celeste 08/12/04 06:13 am What nice memories you must have! You must also have some wonderful stories. Thank you for sharing Dave.
Dave S 08/12/04 07:15 am Marie,
We have Chimney Swifts here, but they aren't as common as they used to be. I can't answer whether they are the birds you heard, but I will try to listen for them next spring!
Cecilia 08/12/04 12:13 pm Marie,

I've been thinking about your question about those screeching sounds that you heard through the cam mic, at night, last spring...and I'm thinking that you might be referring to the weird call of the Eastern Spadefoot Toad. I did hear it a number of nights and a few days, after heavy rains. They have a bizarre life cycle...they live underground, sometimes for years and then burst up in to the temporary ponds that form after really heavy spring rains. For the few days that the water stands they go wild mating and calling with this very loud, raspy, screechy sound (one description I read said that they sound like a young crow). When the pond dries up they disappear again and may not be seen until the next year or even longer. This year we had an incredibly rainy winter followed by a very wet spring and they came out in record numbers. The noise was so loud that we had to run fans to drown them at at night.

If you go to this site you will see a picture of them:

And if you go to this one you will hear their call:

Let me know if that is the sound that you were asking about...Cec
Nancy L 08/12/04 12:25 pm Oh, heavens, I HAVE geraniums on my back porch! I also have bird feeders and 2 bird baths. One is an old frying pan on a pedestal, and the birds drink & bathe in it! My husband re-did our kitchen a few years ago and gave us a large window overlooking the back yard where I sit at the kitchen table & enjoy the view. I know the more common birds & am working at learning others. I do lots of hiking in local wildlife refuges and always stop when I hear a bird I don't know & try to find it with my binoculars. Last year, we were hiking "out east" on the Island & came really close to a red-tailed hawk. I love being a part of this osprey site.
Cecilia 08/12/04 01:08 pm You know...I'm feeling sheepish about the geranium comment...because I really meant to say African Violets but I didn't realize it until after I had posted it :-) I love geraniums, I don't know why I mixed them up. Now, all of you African Violet lovers, don't yell at me:-)
Shelley 08/12/04 02:29 pm That thump you hear is me, falling off my chair, laughing!!!
Marie 08/12/04 04:34 pm LOL are you going to tell the difference between the birds if you are having trouble with African Violets and Geraniums...LOL you are so funny. I will now look at YOUR, not Your toes but those TOADS. ;-)) You can keep your shoes on. Just me being silly!
Dave S 08/12/04 07:58 pm My partner (wife) PJ and I have Geraniums, Butterfly Bushes and all kinds of Hummer plants. We are proud of the fact that our yard is Bird friendly as well as eye friendly. What ever brings color and wildlife to your yard is worth the nature that will come to assist it! Lots of water (birdbaths) and feeders bring many endemic species that may not stop by without the enticements. The more we entice the native species, the more they will respond! I believe that Gardens rule.....
Marie 08/12/04 09:17 pm Well Cecilia...nope I don't think that was the sound I heard. I listened and listened but am not convinced. I kept asking about Common Nighthawks, but I know that Swifts have a high pitched squeal. I must find my bird sounds and see if that sound was the night hawk or swift...or niether. Thank you Dave for saying you will listen next spring for this sound. Bird/Butterfly friendly gardens are a joy to linger in. Your garden sound like a place to sit back and watch what comes in Dave.
Cecilia 08/12/04 10:08 pm Marie, maybe this will help...

Here's a Chimney Swift:

And this is a Common Nighthawk:
Marie 08/12/04 10:36 pm Cecilia, you are most helpful, Thank you. The sound was more like the Night hawk than the swifts. It still seemed to me to have a little higher pitch. I think you get night hawks down there but do they make a sound when it is dark I wonder? The noise I heard started at dusk but went on into the early evening so it was dark in the Spring. A mystery. Thank you for your help Cecilia.You are most kind.
Grace 08/13/04 11:14 am I am lucky enough to still have my grandfather (I'm 47, he's 90). When I was a little kid, we used to go into the woods, and he would point out all kinds of things, ferns, mushrooms, birds, deer, etc. From him, I developed a love of nature. My yard is filled with gardens, and we've installed a little pond. Last pm, my husb and I sat outside for over an hour watching three frogs catch bugs, and listening to an Eastern Screech Owl call. (As he said, I'm a cheap date!)

As for birds and their calls, I don't hold a candle to the experts, but love observing and have been known to abruptly end a phone call if an interesting bird enters my sight!
Nancy L 08/13/04 02:08 pm Marie - could it have been a peacock? I'm no expert, but there are a few peacocks not that far from the nest, & I hear that they make a screechi ng sound. Last night I FINALLY got to see "Pale Male" here on our Public T.V.
Kathy 08/13/04 02:34 pm So did I Nancy, and I enjoyed it. As I watched I thought of everyone here and, how the people in Central Park formed a special bond. Much like the feeling I get here.
Grace 08/13/04 04:34 pm Me too....I thought that story was as much about the people as the hawks. LOL
cathy 08/14/04 04:20 pm I was just reading this and thought perhaps one of the motivations for our interest in birds, as we see them earnestly carrying on the business of their lives, is that we can identify with them ourselves.

A Thought for the Day From Sri Eknath Easwaran

Tell me, where is the soul's abode?
Upon the pinions of the wind. -- Meister Eckhart

We ought to fly away from earth to heaven as quickly as we
can; and to fly away is to become like God, as far as this
is possible; and to become like him, is to become holy,
just, and wise. -- Plato

We are all capable of flying like eagles high in the sky of
love. But often we prefer running on the ground instead.

Have you seen that curious bird, the quail? We have many of them where we live. When we are driving down the lane, they won't get out of the way. They won't fly. They try to outrun the car. It is only when they conclude their number is up that they start flying. They know how to fly, but they would rather stay on the ground.

Most of us are like that. But mystics like Eckhart tell us that
our wings are there, we have only to spread them to experience the exhilaration of soaring into the sky and looking down to see all life as one.
Marie 08/14/04 07:37 pm Your message cathy is beautiful It touched my soul. I really believe we can spiritually fly......
most of us are as Eckhart says..just like the Quail.

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Tom Throwe
Last modified: Fri Dec 31 23:49:43 EST 2004