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The Eco Trek

Starting birdwatching

Springtime is the best time to start birdwatching.  Reason:  the birds are territorial, and announce their presence with singing.  They don’t sing because they are happy!  They sing to let other members of their species know to stay out of their territory.  And only the males sing.
If you live in a rural area or neighborhood with lots of trees and shrubs, take a walk around and listen.  See how many different bird songs you can hear.  Each species has a different song.  Early morning is the best time to do this.  In fact, hard-core birders get up at the crack of dawn to start birding.
Once you’ve zeroed in on a bird’s territory, look for a nest.  Most common birds nest in trees or bushes, and the nest is usually well hidden.  Once you’ve found a nest, don’t disturb it.  This may cause the bird parents to leave.
If you have a large expanse of open field or grassy lawn, putting up a bluebird box can often produce results.  You can make them yourself, or buy one at a store such as Wild Birds Unlimited or Tractor Supply Company.   Boxes should be put up in late winter, since most birds nest fairly early in the spring and often produce two broods of young each year.
The nest should be left in the box over the winter and then cleaned out just before the next nesting season.
Once your interest is stimulated, get a book to help you identify the birds (called a Field Guide) and a simple pair of binoculars.  This helps you tell the difference between two similar species, and lets you observe the bird’s behavior.
Birdwatching can be addictive, and can lead to more serious birding.  The main point is to enjoy it!

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