While I have always enjoyed watching birds, I did not become a serious birder until 1995. It was that year that I decided I wanted to begin a list of all the birds I saw. I was very lucky to have some expert birders both in my family and among my friends that I called on to help me. In 1995 there were several excellent bird guides on the market, but I still found them difficult to navigate when I didn’t even know where to begin trying to find a bird I had seen. Today, in addition to printed field guides, there are numerous computer apps that make IDing a bird so much easier.
I retired from teaching in 2011 and have been indulging my passion for birding ever since. I have birded all over the U.S., Canada, Mexico, Costa Rica, Belize, and Norway. I lead birding walks at Smith-Gilbert Gardens in Kennesaw, GA, and lead a team for Audubon in the Christmas Bird Count and the February Great Backyard Bird Count. I am also the secretary for my bird group, The Gaggle, which birds monthly and goes on extended trips once or twice a year.
On March 31, 2020, I will begin my fourth year of teaching Recreational Birding at ELM. I have designed this class to help anyone who wants to know more about the birds they see in their daily lives. I only teach this class in the spring because that is when birds are in their breeding plumage and look like their pictures in the field guides. It is also spring migration when migratory birds return from their winter feeding grounds in Central and South America. We here in Georgia can then see birds like the Baltimore Oriole that only pass through on their way to more northerly breeding grounds.
Recreational Birding is a two-hour class in the morning in which we will utilize the classroom to learn how to use both printed and digital field guides to study bird shapes, sizes, behavior, plumage, and sounds. We will also go to the Memorial grounds behind the church by the log cabin to practice what we have learned in the classroom. Some days we will spend the entire two-hour class on a field trip to a nearby park or reserve.
For this class you will need a pair of binoculars. If you must buy a pair, I suggest getting the 8x42 style. A smart phone will be very handy for downloading a digital app. I will teach you how to do this. A notebook will be helpful specially to organize handouts.
Whether you decide to further study birds or just enjoy the birds in your yard, your world will become a more beautiful and peaceful place because of your increased knowledge of our feathered friends.