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A Day in the Life of a Spring Birder

Being a spring birder is not just a hobby for me – it’s a way of life.

My day typically starts with a cup of steaming hot coffee and a quick check of the weather forecast. After refreshing myself, I lace up my hiking boots, grab my trusty binoculars, and head east for another day of birding. As spring is in swing, migratory birds return to their breeding grounds and new species begin to make their appearances. Although the nesting season won’t begin until April, it’s still a good time to go outside and try to get a sneak peek. Today, I’m heading to one of my favorite local birding spots, a wooded area on the outskirts of town.

As I arrive, there is a very subtle, sweet, refreshing yet musky floral scent in the air. I begin by scanning the treetops for any signs of movement or flashes of colors, looking for warblers and other small birds flitting about in search of insects. All of a sudden, I spot a yellow flash in the branches above me. That’s a Yellow Warbler for sure! I train my binoculars on it and marvel at its delicate beauty.

Moving deeper into the woods, I come across a small pond where I immediately hear the distinctive call of a red-winged Blackbird. I spot a male perched on a cattail, proudly displaying his red and yellow epaulets. Showing off probably, eager to find himself a good mate. Nearby, a family of Mallards paddle lazily in the water, their iridescent green heads shining in the morning light. A little further down the path, I hear the soft song of White-throated Sparrows – it’s a clear, pure whistle that makes them distinct from other sparrows. I know that these birds are only here for a few weeks, so I spend a few minutes gazing at them through my binoculars.

I continue my walk, keeping my eyes and ears open for any movement or sound that can signal a new bird. Every rustle in the underbrush, every chirp in the distance, sets my heart aflutter with anticipation. Suddenly, I hear the unmistakable drumming of a woodpecker. I follow the sound and spot a Downy Woodpecker hammering away at a tree trunk, busy chiseling a new nest hole or searching for insects. Its black and white plumage contrasts sharply against the muted browns and greens of the forest, making it easier to spot even from 30 ft away. I’ve always liked taking the road less traveled. As I walk along a trail to a wasted garden, I come across a group of Cedar Waxwings feeding on berries. These elegant birds are always a joy to watch, with their black masks and vibrant yellow tail tips.

As the temperature begins to rise and bird activity slows down. I decide to take a break and sit on a bench overlooking a meadow, enjoying the warmth of the sun on my face. After a quick recharge. I head out to the other side of the woods, hoping to find some new species to add to my list. On my way, I come across a group of birders gathered around a small pond. Curious, I approach and see a pair of great blue herons nesting in a nearby tree – a rare sight indeed.

Carry on, I make my way to a nearby wetland, hoping to catch a glimpse of some other waterfowl or shorebirds. Unfortunately, no signs. As I’m just about to move on, a male eastern bluebird flits past me, carrying a worm in its beak. What a scene! So I follow his trace into the woods. As soon as I enter the woods, I hear a familiar trill, and I know that a Chipping Sparrow is nearby. I scan the trees and bushes until I spot the little bird hopping from branch to branch.

As the morning draws to a close, I’m starting to feel a little worn out. I’ve been walking and watching birds for hours, and my feet are starting to ache. But I can’t resist one last stop – a nearby meadow where I know I can find some of the most beautiful birds of all. When I approach the meadow, I see a flash of blue. It’s an Eastern Bluebird, one of the most beautiful birds in the area. I watch as it flits from post to post searching for insects, amazed at how vibrant and alive it looks in the sun.

As I make my way back home, I’m already planning my next day of birding. There are still so many species I want to see, and so many locations I want to explore.

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