From: Francis Koll
The annual event we just celebrated — Earth Day — coincides with the time birds are returning to our area as they make their yearly migration northward. Paying special attention to birds is one way I pay attention to the earth and I urge everyone to give birding a try.
A few years ago, my family and I decided to become better birders and learn to identify what was flying around and through our area of earth. We now enjoy being able to name the species that have been outside our windows all along. Birding has also been a great escape during the pandemic for us; some days we are out for hours looking at birds!
There are many great print resources to pick up at the library or a favorite bookstore to get you thinking about birds. The Winona Bird Club is a great place to convene (more opportunities when the pandemic eases) and talk to others about birds. They have an email newsletter and a Facebook page and are very friendly and welcoming to new birders. The National Audubon Society and the Cornell Lab of Ornithology have many resources that have been wonderful information hubs for us. We use Cornell’s free app, Merlin Bird ID, to help us with identification, and we also enjoy our role as “citizen scientists” by submitting our sightings at eBird.org. This online collection of bird sightings is a place to submit checklists of your birding outings, as well as explore others’ lists. Sometimes, it can even feel like a bit of a game, “chasing” other people’s rare sightings to the location they reported.
What I hope to do to is get others a bit more excited and curious about birds. Maybe, you’d be up for a challenge:Try to identify 10 different species of birds as you go about your day. You may be surprised at how much you (and your neighbors) already know about birds. See if you can identify any winged creature you observe, whether it is an eagle soaring overhead, a woodpecker drumming on a tree, a chickadee or cardinal eating at your feeder, or even an unusual duck on a nearby lake or pond. If you see me or any other fellow citizen out there gazing through a pair of binoculars, don’t be afraid to ask what we’re looking at. And then be sure to let us know what you have been seeing!