Make it a bird walk!

One of the easiest and best ways to enjoy nature is while you're on a walk.

Whether you are in a park, wilderness area or your neighborhood, paying attention to nature adds a whole new dimension to your walk.

Especially if you watch a few birds along the way.

Birds? You might be asking. And my anwer is a very strong YES. So before you dismiss the idea, take it from me, watching them is truly delightful. Forget the naysayer and whatever vision you have when you think of bird watchers and all of their gear.

Last time I checked, bird watching was the fastest growing recreation activity in the country.

In just a 30-minute walk you can see several birds along the way. Spring brings out the best in bird vocals. Watching and listening to a bird sing his tiny heart out is a fantastic thing to witness. 

Most neighborhoods have some type of natural or open space. Maybe an empty lot with trees, a greenbelt or a park. Plan you walk around these areas or a day-trip to a nearby hiking area or footpath.

Look and listen for birds along the way. You can see them hopping around in trees and foraging in and under low shrubs. Chickadees are common in woods and neighborhoods. They are small in size, but admirably tenacious in personality and antics. 

If you are lucky, you might see woodpeckers. I once saw four types of woodpeckers within about 15 minutes while I was walking in my own neighborhood, including a pileated woodpecker. This large woody-woodpecker like bird is easy to hear and spot. Especially in a neighborhood greenbelt. You can't miss its large size and bright red head.Flickers are another common woodpecker in neighborhoods and forested areas. Their distinct call will become familiar once you know it. 

Rufous-sided towhee. © given photography 2018

Rufous-sided towhee. © given photography 2018

On the ground and in low shrubs you can look for towhees, juncos, sparrows, wrens, and thrushes, to name a few.

If you have children in your life, take them on a bird watching walk. It's a great way to introduce them to nature and I find their enthusiasm contagious. 

Teach a young child how to identify a robin and watch what happens when she spots one on her own. For me, it's right at the top of my most joyful moments.

Here are a few easy bird watching tips to help you get the most out of your bird jaunt.

  • Carry a pocket sized field guide with you or download a bird app on your smart phone. I use ibird Pro. It's a little spendy, but excellent. You can also find plenty of free apps.
  • Binoculars are a bonus if you have them, so bring them along. 
  • Listen for bird calls. Their sweet songs will help you spot them.
  • All birds are fun to watch. Even the common ones. We had a pair of house sparrows nesting outside our front window for years and thoroughly enjoyed them. 
  • Learn to love crows. They are smart, leave you gifts if you treat them well, and are quite entertaining. Trust me on this.
  • Put up a backyard feeder. It's a great way for you to discover the birds that frequent your neighborhood. 

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