Friday, June 17, 2011

San Diego Birds: Black-chinned Hummingbird. Bird Fever - You Should Catch It.

Bird FeverYou Should Catch it.

A recent trip to California presented me with an opportunity to join the local Audubon society representatives on a bird walk through Tecolote Canyon Natural Park in San Diego. The canyon has about 6.5 miles of trails. After short introductions of about 15 birders, we started our walk onto dry dirt packed trails lined with tall yellow flowers resembling daisies. Green shrubs, tall grasses, palm trees and various deciduous trees, provide a green and clean safe haven for birds and other wildlife. 

Quickly the varying degrees of birding skills becomes apparent as individual birders spot and identify birds while others ID birds by ear, and novices like myself ask questions about the birds we see and listen and learn from those more practiced and knowledgeable. Birders I have met enjoy sharing their bird sightings and identification information with others. No particular skill is required to spot and enjoy birds other than maybe patience and observation. Thus, no matter the skill of each birder, everyone can have the opportunity to feel the excitement and shared pleasure of spotting and identifying a different bird.   

Stardom fever helped us in our quest, not our brashness but that of some of the less frequently sighted birds. Blessed are those birds that though rarely seen out in the open, proclaim their tantalizing beauty by perching in open view atop a high branch singing to a captivated audience while turning occasionally to be sure we accurately identify them by their unique body, wings, tail, bill and overall shape, and size. In addition, allowing us to have a few minutes to observe their behavior.   

Over thirty different bird species presented themselves to us that day. Some such as the California Thrasher (with a long decurved bill), Orange Crowned Warbler, and Black-headed Grosbeak were not rare sightings for those residing in California, but new and exciting birds for me to see. Other sightings were admirable, not so much the bird species but what the bird was doing. Like the Western Kingbird snatching a butterfly out of the sky, landing on a branch and eating its captured meal.

Learning the bird’s stories is just part of the adventure of birding with others. The naturally occurring camaraderie that develops from a shared cooperative venture also promotes new friendships. This along with the peace and contentment nature offers us if only we take the time to visit with her.

One member of our group spotted maybe the day’s most prominent bird, a Black- chinned Hummingbird.

A fever of excitement arose as a second member of the group locked in on the sighting. Now both members tried to steer our remaining eyes to the unusual but thankfully patient small bird, resting on a limb in heavy brush not twenty feet away. Finally, in what seemed an eternity only one member had not yet found the cause for our excitement. We would not let him give up and continued to provide directions; follow that crooked large limb than look right by the clump of dead leaves…

finally a cry of wow and the group was in unison in spotting the male Black-chinned Hummingbird.

(c)Mdf ,  This photo is from the Audubon Society web site @
About 50 million people enjoy bird watching every year. Bird watching is the fastest growing recreational activity in the world. Birders can observe upwards of 296 bird species regularly seen in Vermont.

What do birding and eradicating litter have in common? Year round opportunity for walking at a leisurely pace, living in the moment, learning to observe our surroundings, sharing with others what we see and find. Both activities encourage stewardship-maintenance and protection of our environment.

For more information on birding in Vermont, see the Green Mountain Audubon Society’s website at,

Other Vermont flower, critter, and birds, postings:
      Ø  Backyard Birds: