Explore the World of Birds this Winter

Ruby Crowned Kinglet female pauses her feeding on goldenrod to pose for me.

For myself, I find that as the summer turns into fall and the fall gives way to winter, my photography switches from primarily pollinators and lush green plants to the textures of dying flower seed heads and birds! Birds hang around my garden, flit through the tree farm in my backyard, and of course the hawks then sit in the tall trees watching and waiting for their next meal.

There are so many opportunities in the winter months to explore the world of birds! From simply learning about birds with many virtual programs (winter is a great time to sit inside and snuggle up to a webinar with a cup of hot chocolate!), to participating in Citizen Science bird counts – there’s a lot to do!

As Climate Change continues to impact bird species with wetter springs, drier summers, and changes to flower bloom time and insect emergence, scientists are continuing to study trends in bird populations to better understand patterns. Many scientists depend on “citizen” scientists to aid in documenting bird populations. (Learn more about Citizen Science and various projects that you can be a part of HERE) One of these Citizen Science projects is coming up – the Christmas Bird Count – put on by the National Audubon Society. Between Monday, December 14th – January 5th, people can count the varying bird species they see and give that data to a Count Compiler. The Compiler will then be able to give the data of the birds within a certain radius to scientists at Audubon. That data can then be used to create scientific models, population predictions, and help them understand the movements of birds and the impact climate change has on them.

In February, you’ll be able to participate in another special Citizen Science Count – the Great Backyard Bird Count! Interested in learning more about birds and how to protect them from the threats facing them, but are a little intimidated by counting and identifying birds for a Citizen Science Project? Other organizations rely on people taking action to make the world a better, safer place for birds. For example, #BringBirdsBack focuses on providing 7 easy, at-home actions that anyone can take to make their communities more sustainable for birds. Roughly 3 Billion birds have disappeared since the 1970’s and the goal is to slow the decline in populations.

White-throated Sparrows are one of my favorite late-fall – winter birds here in PA. They are also on the list of birds in decline.

One of the ways that #BringBirdsBack suggests improving bird populations is one that I find VERY easy! Simply share your reasons for loving birds with others! As people learn more about birds and start loving on them, they are more likely to take actions to protect them. As a photographer, I know that a good photo of birds can elicit empathy for that creature, and that “empathy is the root of change” (as a National Geographic Explorer and Photographer said). Take photos of the birds at your feeder, the birds that hang out in your community, and the birds that you see during your travels and start sharing WHY you love birds!

My reasons for caring for birds:

  1. Not necessarily a scientific reason, but a reason nonetheless – Birbs are adorable. Have you ever seen one fluff it’s feathers and become a rotund ball of feathery floof?!
  2. Birds act as seed dispersers for the wildflowers I love and also act as pollinators. If you’re a gardener, birds can be your best friend!
  3. Birds help to manage insect populations. I’m not the biggest fan of creepy-crawly creatures (although as an Ecologist, I do know that they have their place in the world and will try to protect them as well!) so knowing that there is a creature out there that can gain nutrients and prevent insect populations from going out of control is an encouraging thought for me!
  4. Birds bring color to the world. From Indian Rollers in Dubai, to Goldfinches in my garden, birds can sport such bright and vibrant coloration! As a photographer and visual artist, any color is welcome and must be preserved!

What are your reasons for loving birds? Let me know in the comments!

Looking for ways to add more birds to your life? Check out my shop for fine art bird prints, bird illustrations, magnets, bird conservation themed stickers, and more!

Crested Cranes fly over Nairobi, Kenya.

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