Birding in the National Parks
Have you ever missed a unique birding sighting by just this much? That's dipping, for you.
National park travelers are keenly aware of the changing seasons. The Blue Ridge Parkway is a completely different experience in August than in October. The hoodoos of Bryce Canyon need to be seen both in the blistering July sun and the January snow to be fully appreciated. And, of course, there’s Yellowstone – a bustling city on a summer weekend and a tranquil white wilderness on a bright February morning.
It’s been a while since I’ve used this space to tout the benefits of eBird, but the project keeps getting better and better, so it deserves another mention.
When I was first learning the basic skills of birding, I read a line in Roger Tory Peterson’s famous field guide that almost made me want to give up any aspirations of becoming a good birder. He said something about skilled birders sometimes doing 95 percent of their birding by ear. I was horrified. Here I was, looking through a field guide, imagining all of the pretty birds I would see some day, and Peterson was telling me I’d learn to do 95 percent of it by sound. That’s no fun at all!
Spring migration is in full swing here in the Great Lakes, and your humble birding columnist has been run ragged. Among my recent travels was a stop at Ontario’s Point Pelee National Park. It’s a small park, but loaded with unique geographic features and plenty of fabulous birds. You’ll hear about the actual birds right here in a couple weeks, but for now I want to focus on the birders. One group in particular was out in force.
I readily admit I have a bit of an Eastern bias. Birding as a hobby in North America tends to have a bias toward the right side of the continent, as well. There are more than a few reasons for that. North American ornithology was born and raised in Philadelphia. There are far more people within an afternoon’s drive of multiple bird habitats throughout the east. And finally, the warblers are better.
The time has come to "pledge to fledge," folks. The coming weekend is Pledge to Fledge weekend, a grassroots movement by the Global Birding Initiative to inspire experienced birders to take non-birders out on a birding excursion.
Much of the northern half of the country is locked into winter now, which makes it a perfect time to plan your birding trips for the rest of the year.
Thanks to what was described as a “drunken” meander of the jet stream last week, much of North America experienced some the coldest weather seen in many years. At Voyageurs National Park, the temperature dipped to -42°F the morning of January 3rd , followed by daily highs of -17°F and -19°F on the 5th and 6th. That’s deadly cold to an improperly prepared human. It’s not all that fun even for cold-adapted mammals like moose.
New Year’s Eve seems as good a time as any to reflect on 2013. It’s been a big year for me, with birding explorations around the country, including the first trips of my life to Saguaro National Park and Chiricahua National Monument.
Christmas is past, but counting birds is not. At Death Valley National Park, the annual Christmas Bird Count is scheduled for this coming Saturday.
As reported here Sunday, the National Audubon Society designated areas around Canyonlands National Park a Globally Important Bird Area (IBA). Parts of more than 15 other national parks are included in the Global IBA system.
It’s happening again! No, not another government shutdown. That’s next month. What we have here is another invasion of Snowy Owls.
Are you a "twitcher" or a "chaser" when it comes to birding in the national parks?
“I’ll chase that bird with you if the furlough is still going on.”
This week marks a bittersweet fifth anniversary of the last time I visited Yellowstone National Park. I’d love to have gone back by now, but life has conspired to keep me out of the northern Rockies.
When spring migration ends, the biggest birding lull of the year sets in. It’s a good time to sit back, recover from your migration birding binge, and reflect on some things. One of the things I’ve noticed this week is that I’m white.