Birdwatching for Beginners

Come to the Library at 7:00 p.m. on Tuesday, February 11, and participate in Birdwatching for Beginners, a program co-sponsored by the Topeka Audubon Society and presented by TAS member Janeen Walters.  Learn about the birds that reside here and migrate through our region, and acquire some useful identification tips!

Kansas is in the central flyway migratory route which means a variety of shorebirds, ducks, geese, sandhill cranes and warblers pass through every year headed to northern breeding grounds or favored wintering spots to the south.  475 species of birds are on the Kansas checklist, a state with distinct ecosystems that attract diverse species.  Not all birds seen in northeast Kansas will be on the checklist for counties in western Kansas.  And every once in a while an unexpected migrant will appear and shake things up.

Green Heron
Birdwatching is thrilling and challenging. Accurate identification in the field, for both amateurs and experts, can be tricky.  Often the bird is too far out on the water, her head is facing away from you, there’s too much foliage blocking your view but you can hear that song, or the minute you have him in the binoculars he flies away (but you did manage to glimpse that yellow patch just in time to announce it as a yellow-rumped warbler).  It takes dedication, practice, and knowing what to pay attention to–shape, behavior, colors, markings–to become a birdwatcher who can consistently ID with accuracy what is heard and seen in the field.

Birdwatching programA good beginner’s guide to birds of our region–which you can check out at the Library before you buy–is the Guide to Kansas Birds and Birding Hot Spots.  While the Sibley guides are great, this book highlights those species you are most likely to see here and when can expect to see them arrive in your area.  More experienced birders will appreciate the recent Birds of Kansas which includes county maps and breeding records as well as photos.  Cornell Lab of Ornithology is an excellent online resource for ID (male, female and juveniles), range maps, and to hear vocalizations.

Bring your questions for the experts on February 11 and then challenge yourself by participating in the Great Backyard Bird Count February 14-17, 2014!

(Photos taken by Kimberly Sain. Green Heron photographed summer 2013.)



Kimberly Sain

As a Public Services Specialist, in addition to Reference work I promote the Travel, Pets, and Lawn & Garden Neighborhoods, coordinate nature-themed programs for adults and families, and serve on the Big Read planning committee. My interests include exploring new travel destinations, National Parks, Alaska, hiking trails in Kansas, Colorado and Arkansas, birding, Sandhill crane migration, Monarch waystations, Kansas native plants, citizen science activities, volunteer work as a certified Kansas Master Naturalist, and reading essays about the natural environment. Peter Matthiessen's Shadow Country is my all-time favorite novel.

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