April is primetime for birding. The number of bird species here increases dramatically during spring migration. For example, while only a handful of Wood Warblers nest and breed in the Tennessee area, dozens fly through Tennessee (including the Tennessee Warbler) during migration.
Spring migration is also easier on those of us with bad eyes. This is for three primary reasons:
- They sing more, making it easier to figure out where they are and, with a bit of practice, to identify which bird it is from its song,
- In early spring, there are few leaves for the birds to hide behind, and
- The birds are in full breeding plumage, making them (especially the males) much easier to spot and recognize.
Therefore, it only makes sense that we would decide to have a Birdathon in the month of April. This is a stolen idea from a friend up North who started raising money for the local Audubon chapter up there. This friend introduced me to birding when she invited her sponsors to go on a bird walk each year as a thank you for contributing. I guess it stuck–I think the first time I went on a bird walk with her must have been over 15 years ago now.
In any case, as part of the Birdathon, we are trying to raise money for the Audubon by taking pledges for the number of bird species we identify over a 3 week period. I am not doing so well. I don’t think I’ve even gotten up to 50 yet.
One of the rules is that if a bird is not commonly found in the area, you have to either have a second person who agrees with the ID or a photo of the bird. This has led to me carrying my DSLR with the 100-400mm lens on it every time I go walking through the park or on an official bird walk.
I so want to get some great photos of song birds. But every time I carry the camera, I end up with tiny shots of song birds up in tree tops. I need a tree house with a blind to sit behind so I can get up closer to the birds. Since I don’t think Park and Recreation will approve of me building a birdhouse, I guess I will have to stick to cropping the heck out of my images.
The photos in this post are from 2 bird walks, 2 locations. One at the park near me and one at Audubon Acres. I am slightly proud of the Blue-gray Gnatcatcher’s photo–that sucker is a 4 ½” bird and I was not that close–the fact that it’s as sharp as it is even though I cropped it a lot is what I’m proud of.
What strikes me as funny is that I only came back from 3 hours of looking at birds with images of 2 birds–I hope bird photographers are well paid.