Birding Basics

Birding Basics

Birding Basics – Weekly on Tuesdays, January 2 – March 19 at 6:30 pm

Back by popular demand, we will spend twelve weeks revisiting the basics of birding. This is the perfect opportunity for people newly interested in birding, novices needing a refresher, and for even the ‘pros’ to learn something new. Each week we will cover a different topic that is essential to birding and while they do build off each other, attendance to all programs is not necessary. You can review the courses and join us for the topics that interest you!

Weekly Descriptions Below:

IDENTIFYING BIRDS – January 2

There are 11,000 species of birds in the world—with 455 spotted in Maine—but which is the one you are looking at right now? This class will teach you the essentials of identifying birds: from beak to tail, we will teach you the things to look for when identifying birds.

TOOLS OF THE TRADE – January 9

Birding generally is an easy hobby to get into because you really only need two things: binoculars and a field guide. But there are dozens of options to choose from! Tonight we’ll cover everything you need to know when picking out either of these two essential tools. Which ones are best? Are expensive binoculars actually worth it? Is National Geographic better than Sibley? Come find out!

BIRDING IN A DIGITAL AGE – January 16

Following up on our “tools of the trade” talk, we live in an increasingly digital world and birding has gone that way too. Tonight we’ll talk about some of the virtual tools that birders should be using while out in the field, focusing on smartphone applications, and a few gadgets that will help you find more birds.

ATTRACTING AND FINDING BIRDS – January 23

Bird watching is pretty easy, but what if there are no birds to watch? Tonight we’ll cover two topics: 1) How to attract birds to your yard and 2) What resources you can use to find birds. For attracting birds, we’ll mostly focus on bird feeders and landscaping (planting natives) tips that will help get more birds in your yard. Then when you are ready to wander afield, there are some great resources we’ll discuss for finding the best birding locations near you.

BIRD BEHAVIOR – January 30

When we go birding, we get a quick glimpse into the lives of those birds. In those short seconds we actually see a bird they can be giving all sorts of hints as to what they are doing. This week we will focus on most behaviors from migrating and sleeping, to foraging and breeding. 

IMPROVE YOUR GULL-ABILITY – February 6

Gulls (seagulls) are one of the most difficult families of birds to identify, however, they are one of the easiest groups to study! Tonight’s program will teach you the techniques, like starting with asking: “how old is this bird?”, to be able to identify Maine’s most common gulls.

BIRDS IN LOVE – February 13

With Valentine’s Day coming up, we’ll discuss “love” in the bird world. Birds have amazingly complex relationships, many of which humans could probably learn something from. We’ll look at the science behind these relationships and answer questions like: Do birds mate for life? What happens when a mate dies? What the heck is scramble competition polygyny?! 

BIRDING ETHICS – February 20

Birding, and other wildlife observing, provides an intimate connection to nature that makes us better stewards of the environment and even provides us with wellness and mental health benefits, but through our pursuits, are we doing more harm than good? In this program we will talk about many of the ethical issues that we confront as bird watchers, and dispel some of the myths that exist in our relationship with nature. Topics range from: bird feeding, does it actually help birds? Why are bird friendly yards reportedly more deadly for birds? Should you join the “chase” to go see a rare bird being reported? Why do cats need to be kept indoors? When should you let nature take its course or when should you intervene? Many of these questions may raise ethical or social dilemmas, but Doug will provide the science-based answers that put the birds, and other wildlife, first.

BIRDING BY EAR – February 27

Take your birding to a new dimension, literally! Learning to identify birds by their songs or calls will help you find more birds, and aurally read the landscape. In this program we’ll focus on the skills to identify and recognize different vocalizations, rather than just playing hundreds of recordings, but there will be plenty of examples!

INTRO TO BIRD PHOTOGRAPHY – March 5

Digital photography has completely changed birding: from the amount of unusual birds that get documented (It would have been hard to believe a Steller’s Sea-Eagle was actually in Maine without a photograph) to the amazing and unique behaviors being captured. This evening we’ll give some recommendations on what equipment you may want to carry in the field, some settings that will make capturing birds easier, and simple edits to make your photos look their best.

LEARN THE ANSERS* – March 12

If it swims like a duck and quacks like a duck, it must be a duck! But did you know 45 species of ducks (plus geese and swans) have been seen in Maine? They comprise a “family” called Anseriformes (*Ansers, for short. It’s not a typo!) Ansers are an order of birds that includes all of the ducks, geese and swans that reside in Maine. This evening, we will discuss the natural history of this family, the finer points of identifying these species, and where and when to see them.

REASONS FOR RARE BIRDS – March 19

We are often fascinated by the vagrant birds that show up. How did a Steller’s Sea-Eagle make it to Maine from Siberia?! What is a South American flycatcher doing in Falmouth? These birds make headlines as “Birders flock to see ______” and we are increasingly understanding the why behind these rarities. Tonight we’ll talk about some of the common catalysts for vagrancy, and how we are getting to a point where we can start predicting what rare birds will show up and when.

 

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Date

Feb 27 2024

Time

6:30 pm - 8:00 pm

Price

Free

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