The bird world right outside our doors is quite diverse.
At any given time, a bald eagle could be soaring overhead, while a tiny golden-crowned kinglet is feeding in a tree right next to you – and you won’t notice either one! This or a similar scenario has probably happened many more times than one might realize.
A bald eagle quietly glides high in the sky but we usually don’t look up unless we hear something. A tiny bird like the golden-crowned kinglet in a tree or bush rarely gets noticed unless it makes its distinct, but hard to hear ringing call. Both instances simply require being more aware and using our senses better.
During the year I notice plenty of instances where I might be at lookout at a park or National Wildlife Refuge checking out the birds and other wildlife. A car pulls in and people get out and take a quick gander over the marsh or landscape and they see nothing, telling each other that there’s “nothing here,” and hop back in the car and leave. Meanwhile there are several neat birds out there, hidden a bit and others calling from the marsh or the thickets. Just being a little patient and listening and watching bring good results. Some people don’t even turn off the car. There have been several instances where we birders make other visitors aware of what’s out there and they then become quite amazed when they see a bald eagle perched on a branch, or a black tern swooping back and forth over the marsh, or a pied-billed grebe occasionally diving in the pool in front of them, or even a moorhen feeding along the edge of the cattails – and a scarlet tanager quietly sitting in the tree.
As you may know, I have a bird feeding business which I operate out of my barn at my residence here on LaGrange Road in Wyoming, NY and that I feed birds in about 8 different locations like at home, at the farm next door, at the bank where I work, at our little camp, at the hospital, at the church, and at a couple of parks. The bird feed sales help cover the cost of the feed that gets donated to the parks. I find it is so important for the park visitors, especially families with children, to have a chance to see wildlife up close – like the birds at the feeding station. Locally, the parks that get this subsidy are Genesee County Park between Warsaw and Batavia and the Humphrey Nature Center at Letchworth State Park. Many people get some great exposure to the world of birds up close.
If you visit either of these bird feeding places, or any others, initially you may scare the birds away. At first you may think there are no birds, however, if you wait quietly for a few minutes you will start to see the birds returning to the feeders. Maybe keep your distance and stay hidden a bit. If the bird feeders are near a parking lot or a driveway, just turn off the engine and stay in the car and lower your window. The car serves as a blind and before you know it you are viewing the birds at close range. It makes a good opportunity to do some bird photography as well.
The other day at Genesee County Park we filled the feeders and then took a walk on the trails for a while. On our way back, as we approached the feeding station – stopping about 50 feet short and remaining quiet, we saw plenty of diverse activity at the feeders. It would have been nice to have a chair right there!
Many of you may not be familiar with a brown creeper. It’s a small brown bird that creeps up tree trunks (only tree trunks) from bottom to top. It then flies from the top of one tree trunk to the base of another. It finds food in the various crevices under bark. It is a year-round resident of Western New York but is a rare visitor at the feeding station, but it may not be as rare as many people think. It’s small and it blends in with the tree trunks very nicely.
Well, at the Genesee County Park, for years now, the brown creeper comes to the suet and the peanut feeders that are attached to a tree trunk. On New Year’s Day was no exception. Obviously, creepers like more wooded areas than open areas. You can give it a try as well and then pay attention!
As for finding golden crowned kinglets, winter migrants from the north, they won’t be at the feeders but are often travelling through the woods and thickets with chickadees and other birds. Other non-feeder birds to watch for are cedar waxwings, robins, and mockingbirds – and many others out in the open country and fields.
Well, I’m out of room again! Just keep on enjoying the birds and remember that there is more out there than you at first realize. Remember that the birds are watching you long before you are watching them! As always, feel free to call or text me at 585-813-2676 or email email@example.com if you have questions or want to know when my next bird ID walk will be. Happy birding in 2020!
Hans Kunze is an avid birder and nature enthusiast who has been writing about birds and nature for more than 30 years. His column is published twice each month. Write him at 6340 LaGrange Rd Wyoming, NY 14591 or call (585) 813-2676.