I love to watch birds – I always have since my father gave me my first pair of binoculars. They are very heavy so I have a lighter pair that I carry when I am out an about.
I can identify birds by family but that’s about all. I spend much of my time either on the Kings River or the Central Coast of California so I decided it was time to learn to identify birds by more than duck, goose, or little brown bird.
Karen Watts and Robbie Revel were our cheerful leaders who seemed to know each of the birds personally. They told us how to consider:
- sense of place – we began in a coastal sage scrub and saw lots of little brown birds which were identified as California brown towhees, white crowned sparrows, warblers, and wrens. In the bay we observed ruddy ducks, bufflehead ducks, and pie billed grebes.
- Migratory Birds – Morro Bay is one of the top places in the country to see migratory birds and we saw lots including wintering ospreys and brant geese.
- Behavior – how do they walk, bob, and move? One of our instructors even acted out different bird actions!
- Relative size – shape, silhouette, and color.
They use the Cornell Merlin Bird ID app
the National Geographic Field Guide to the Birds of Western North America.
and the ibird digital app
It was great fun to wander around the estuary with some very friendly folks.We walked around the estuary on a beautiful boardwalk at low tide and were able to observe and identify many wading birds such as snowy egrets, great blue herons, willets, long billed curlews, American avocets,and long beaked whimbrels.One lady even sketched the birds we saw:
This turkey vulture was drying its wings high in a tree after eating its breakfast.
I’m not going to bore you with details but I am going to encourage anyone in the area to head this weekend to the 2015 Morro Bay Winter Bird Festival January 16-19 which is an annual event celebrating birds in San Luis Obispo County, CA.
Saturday the 17th is family day with lots of great events. Grab your binoculars and go!
Do you have a favorite bird? I can’t seem to pick just one.