Date: 3/17/21 4:23 pm
From: <edgew...>
Subject: In a lighter vein
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Folks, you are pikers! Decoys? Hey, decoys are made to fool the ducks they resemble--humans are easier to fool than ducks that way.

I have fessed up to some doozys. The most discouraging was not with other people. I walked a mile round trip to learn that the bird on the levee I couldn't identify from a distance was...a boot.

Confessing to misidentification experiences may be a bit comforting to beginning birders, but experienced birders can be most helpful by stepping up and mentoring--difficult to do in person in a pandemic, but we still may be able to help share our passion and experience.

Here are two things I offer:

1. Beginners: buy a bird field guide, then begin studying it--don't try to learn the whole gamut in a long session. Concentrate on reading about two species a day--maybe ducks for now, or maybe just learn about American Robins and Eastern Bluebirds to start with. You might read the field guide descriptions of the two species and to really match what the written description says with observing the features in the illustration.

You might follow that up by learning more about the two birds you are studying by searching them on the internet.

So, what kind of bird field guide? Please do not fall into the trap of getting a photographic field guide. Everyone with even the most basic interest in birds has heard of Roger Tory Peterson. He is famous for revolutionizing how we look at birds to try to identify them. He was a special kind of artist: an illustrator. His method of bird identification works so well because he emphasized the features that separate the species illustrated from any other species, and the illustrations, unlike a photograph, are not affected by the lighting or pose of the bird.

For beginning and intermediate birders, I recommend National Geographic Birds of North America, 7th edition. The current edition of Peterson's Guide to North America is also good. Note that when it comes to birds, "Eastern North America" means everything east of the Rocky Mountains--not just east of the Mississippi River.

2. The Missouri Birding Society spring meeting will be two-weeks of activities between April 30 and May 15. We will have Zoom sessions AND field trips for small groups around the state on several different days. The hands-down best way to learn about birds is to go birding with other birders.

I will lead at least one field trip in the Columbia area during the two-week period especially for beginning birders. That/those field trips will be announced on Mobirds when the schedule is ready. Keep an eye out for that and don't be shy about signing up. I'm betting there will be other field trips around the state for beginners led by experienced birders who remember well what it is like to be a "newbie."

Edge Wade
Columbia, MO

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