“May” I bird with you…
We are now in THE best time of the year for birdwatching. We are in the latter parts of the shorebird migration, middle of the neotropical bird migration (warblers, sparrows, etc.) and our breeding bird species are starting to show up and starting to claim territories and sing their hearts out (AND we can finally have our windows open and hear them).
I would love to be able to be in all parts of the state at the same time during this part of the year…and I would love to be able to “bird” with all of you, in your backyards or favorite nearby State Park, State Recreation Area, Wildlife Management Area or other neat locations. But I can’t…or can I?
Obviously I can’t physically be in all places at one time (as much as my wife, children and other family and friends and co-workers seem to think that I can), but I can bird with you – as can numerous other bird experts across the state – through the internet. In 2009, I did a newsletter titled “From Chirps and Cheeps to Twitters and Tweets” that highlighted some of the ways that technology was becoming used in the birdwatching world. Well, not surprisingly, a LOT has changed in that area in 7 years.
According to USA Today, 58% of Americans are now using Facebook, and when you look at just those that use the internet in general (which obviously includes all of you reading this), 72% use Facebook! If you are a Facebook user, there are at least four good groups that you should check out and consider joining if you like birds and nature in general. If you go to your page and hit the “search button” (may look like a magnifying glass) and type in the names of these groups you will find them. They include “Birds of Nebraska”, a group that obviously is pretty bird focused – and if you join that group there will be photographs of birds from all over the state that will pop up in your newsfeed as they are posted. “Who what where of Nebraska” is a little different group, there are pictures of birds that will show up, but there will also be pictures of snakes, spiders, mammals, frogs, insects, trees, shrubs, rocks, etc. “Nebraska through the lens” is another group where birds show up from time to time, along with scenic views, rainbows, lightening, historic downtown photos, and many other things. Then of course there is the “Nebraska Watchable Wildlife” page, which is also a good one to be on, and one of the best of the local Facebook group pages if you want to post questions about birds or other wildlife and get answers. There may be other groups too – but those are the four that I am a member of that I would recommend that you look into.
There are also a couple of “Yahoo Groups” that you should think about joining if you like birds. As with Facebook, you can search for these at the Yahoo Groups website. They are “NEBirds” and “Tout Birding Club”. NEBirds is a statwide group with 1,229 members (as of today) where members post recent sightings from across the state, which allows “newer” birders to know what to watch for and on occasion learn about upcoming birding field trips. It is also a good place to ask questions as there are MANY expert birders that use that list serve and are willing to answer questions. Tout Birding Club is a much smaller group (only 43 members) that covers the North Platte and Southwest Nebraska area, Nebraska Ornithologists’ Union website functioning as the above NEBirds group does. I am a member of both of those groups as well.
Nebraska Ornithologists’ Union website
Another great source of information on Nebraska Birds is the Nebraska Ornithologists’ Union website (http://www.noubirds.org). Speaking of the “NOU” – their spring meeting and field days are coming up May 20-22 in Kimball. You do not have to be an expert to attend these and you can learn a LOT at these meetings. Goals at this meeting will be to find western Hummingbirds and other western grassland/shrubland species that only venture a little ways into Nebraska. Registration information can be found at the NOU website under the “meetings” tab.
Speaking of birdwatching events – there are a BUNCH of events going on across the state in May in celebration of International Migratory Bird Month – check out this link for more information www.nebraskabirdmonth.org .
More information on birds in Nebraska can be found at the Nebraska Bird Library (http://www.nebraskabirdlibrary.org) and on the Project BEAK website (http://www.projectbeak.org) which is a website with a lot of great information that while more “kid” oriented would still be of value to beginning birdwatchers.
Despite all of the above information, don’t waste all of your time playing on a computer or a smart phone learning about birds this month – get out to your favorite natural area and track down some birds on your own. You “May” even bump into me somewhere, and even if you don’t…if will be time well spent.
Biologist, Nebraska Game and Parks Commission