Bird Watching – Tweetin’ West Virginia Style…
After weeks of snow, ice and cold temps…it’s a balmy 40+ degrees this morning. It’s the perfect morning for a long quiet walk along the trails at ACE. Except it’s not so quiet here…the birds are tweetin’ and chirpin’…it’s a sure sign the seasons are changing.
With over 300 species of birds calling WV home, there are spectacular species to be seen and heard all through the woods. You can find a complete list of WV Birds at the WV Conservation Agency. As the days get longer, resident birds are beginning to be more active and migratory birds are returning. Spotting birds in the spring is easy, if you know where to look. Birds fly the same routes in the fall and spring, once you locate a particular bird in the spring, you can probably spot it there again in the fall. By observing birds (which does take a little patience), you will begin to understand their behavior.
- To attract a mate or to defend their territory, birds will sing and perch themselves on tree tops or in visible places.
- Nesting birds will gather material to build a home for their young in dense areas.
- Birds will forage for left-over seeds and insects under bushes or leaves in the woodlands.
- Perching themselves in a sunny spot, birds will catch some rays on cooler days to stay warm.
While it’s relatively common to spot a cardinal, a blue jay, a heron or a hawk, there are so many other species you just may spot. WVU has an online Guide to Common WV Birds, they have drawings and descriptions so you can begin to learn about the many birds to be found here.
You can set out bird feeders in your yard in all seasons and birds will begin to visit you more frequently. Setting out bird feeders helps birds get through harsh winters when there is snow on the ground and food sources are scarce. You do need to think about a few things in order to feed birds safely.
- Keep feeders clean, to reduce bacteria and disease organisms.
- Use a good quality bird food. Feeding birds food not meant for them is harmful to their health.
- Keep feeders in an open area. While you may want your feeders outside the window, birds often hit windows, which can result in serious injury or death. You can place a decal or sticker on the corner of your window. This acts a “stop sign” and lets birds know the window is not the woods, as windows often reflect the outdoors.
- Choose your food based on the birds you want to attract. Be mindful that feeding some species will make them aggressive, as birds are territorial.
By knowing a few basics about bird behavior, you can have more fun watching them and listening to their activities. There are also great apps you can download, check out these reviews from the Nature Conservancy.
Enjoying the sounds and sights of birds while outside enriches any outdoor experience; today I’m just enjoying their sweet music after a long winter.