The Joys of Bird Watching – Hernando Sun

Article and photography by Alice Mary Herden

I had planned to cover as many sporting events as possible in high school before and during the Christmas break. Well, thanks to the bronchitis caught, those plans were canceled. So what do you do when you are sick and stuck at home? You turn into a bird watcher!

So what’s wrong with bird watching? The variety and wonder of birds! Well, to some it might seem boring to watch birds collecting seeds in a feeder or flying and jumping in trees all day long, but for others it’s pretty darn cool.

What’s fascinating about birding is how different they are. From sizes, colors, patterns, beak shapes to songs, and with over 10,000 species of birds around the world, you’re bound to see a diversity of birds in your garden.

There is this excitement of seeing how many different species will perch on the feeder to pick nuts and sunflower seeds. After awhile, you start to learn more about them. I know Red-bellied Woodpeckers like to hide their collection of nuts and insects by punching small holes in tree trunks or branches or hammering them into bark crevices. Other birds like blue jays or mourning doves can dine because they store as many seeds as possible in their throats. Carolina tits and crested tits are the go-to birds. Then there is a moment of silence and all you hear is a male house finch singing on a small, thin branch in the leafless tree above. It’s a beautiful song. Then you start to notice all the other songs and different bird calls.

It is now winter migration for some bird species. Yellow-rumped warblers, cedar waxwings, robins, goldfinches, and yellow-bellied woodpeckers, to name a few, migrate to Florida during the winter months. These winter migratory birds are only there for a few months, then they return to their breeding grounds. Some travel for miles or even thousands of miles above land and water to reach their destination.

Getting into bird watching can be difficult at first as there are so many different species! Some birds are easy to identify or distinguish between sexes such as northern cardinals whose males and females are markedly different in appearance. In other species, you can’t really tell the male or the female apart. Some species have non-breeding and breeding plumage. It’s a lot to absorb at first, but if you want to learn more about birds, start at home, join a birding group, or attend workshops.

The other part of bird watching is the fun of just watching them. The birds are amazing, they are so diverse. They are a powerful part of nature of all sizes. These are the songs of the forest and play an important role in our ecosystem, even in your garden.

What birds have visited my garden:

Pine Warblers, Yellow-rumped Warblers, Palm Warblers, Crested Chickadees, Carolina Chickadees, Yellow-throated Warblers, Redbirds, Red-bellied Woodpeckers, Bronzed Blackbirds, Northern Cardinals, Blue Jays, House Finch, Mourning Doves, Doves terrestrial, white ibis, crows, red-shouldered hawk, blue-gray midges and summer tanager.

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