Michigan Birding 101 Session 1 - Basic Birding Skills

March 14, 2021

Welcome to our Michigan Birding 101 series.

This is Session 1 of a four-part series provided by Michigan Sea Grant and MSU Extension featuring tips and tricks and lots of great information from Extension educator Elliot Nelson. We'll learn basic birding skills and suggestions for equipment you might want to use.

We hope you’ll enjoy all four of the sessions and be inspired to head outside to do some birding!

Session 1 video – Basic Birding Skills: https://youtu.be/brQj2YNQj_w

Session 2 video – Backyard Birds: https://youtu.be/0-9a-5Pt258

Session 3 video – Winter Birding: https://youtu.be/3J6DKgz5NGM

Session 4 video – Magnificent Migration: https://youtu.be/Pfhgeqa0PhU

A special thanks to Darrell Lawson for sharing his Birding 101 tips as well as Skye Hass (https://borealisbirding.net/), Duane Utech and John Diephouse for use of their photos.

Video Transcript

Welcome everyone. Welcome.

We are so glad to have you here.

Welcome to the first
Michigan Birding 101 class.

The first of four in our series.

We are so excited to have
so many of you on board.

It's been amazing how
many people signed up.

I guess there's a lot of interest in birds

and that makes me excited,

because birds and birding
is one of my passions.

And I'm really excited
to share that passion

with the rest of you
over the next few days.

You'll have to excuse me, as I am at home.

And I do have dogs and
kids in the background

that will be popping in
and out from time to time,

but we'll get things out going here.

So I just wanted to let you
know about some of the stuff

you did just see scrolling
through the screen.

We are a program of
Michigan State University.

And so because of that, we are committed

to civil rights and to equity.

We want to make sure our
programs are open to all.

It is a federal mandate that we collect

the demographics info
that you saw earlier on,

but it is also an important commitment

of Michigan State University extension.

As you can see there, this is
of course the quarantine life

as my wife drags the dog
out of the room there.

But anyway, another thing
you may have noticed

is our land acknowledgement.

And we do want to
recognize and acknowledge

that Michigan State University
and many of our offices

across the state do
reside on tribal lands.

We work by this acknowledgement.

We want to affirm a digital
sovereignty and work

to hold Michigan State
University accountable

to meeting the needs of American Indians

and its indigenous peoples.

All right, with that being said,

we're going to jump into our conversation

and our presentation here,

but first a few things
I do want to point out

before I get going though,

that we have a chat at the bottom.

If you scroll down to the
bottom of the Zoom technology

you'll see a little bar that pops up

and there's a chat there.

You are more than welcome
to share resources

through that chat, to
connect with each other.

I'll even ask you to
put some stuff in there.

You can direct your chats
to either the panelists

who I'll introduce,

myself and Cindy who's in
the background helping,

or you can direct it
to the entire audience.

I will note though, that we
ask that you put questions

in the Q&A section,

and we will hold on answering
those questions to the end,

although Cindy may type some answers

if they're simple or quick questions.

So again, chat is for
socializing and sharing

and the Q&A section below is
for asking your questions.

All right, now, let's jump into that.

So this is the first in our series.

You can see that beautiful green heron

on the front slide there.

And in our first edition today,

we have three objectives for today.

The first is to have fun.

This should be an enjoyable time.

Hopefully you're not stressed

about learning the birds or anything.

Hopefully you find that
there's a lot to love

beyond just identification,

and you can really dive
into enjoying the birds

but we also want to get
your questions answered,

and we want you to see
some cool bird pictures.

The second thing is we really
hope you walk away today

with some skills in terms
of using binoculars.

Binoculars are probably the
linchpin of birding as a hobby.

It's sort of the first
barrier that people encounter,

that they need to learn how to utilize.

So we'll cover binoculars
in pretty in-depth today,

and then we're also going
to cover field guides

and ID skills on how you can
actually take your binoculars

and then apply that to learning
about the birds around you.

So first I would like
to introduce Sea Grant

because that's who's hosting this today.

They have that little nice logo there.

Sea Grant is a program that
helps to foster economic growth

and protect Great Lakes coastal resources

throughout Michigan.

So we are actually a joint
program with MSU Extension

the University of Michigan and
NOAA, a federal organization.

I will at some points here,

probably be turning my
video on and off, just FYI

to help promote my internet connection.

So rural Michigan doesn't
always have the best internet

and I hear that there's some
spottiness coming through.

So we achieve our mission at
Sea Grant through research.

We actually fund research,
but a lot of what we do

is take the research
from these institutions

and provide education to community groups

around that research and outreach as well

to helping community organizations utilize

the research from the universities.

We do it in four areas
around Great Lakes topics

of healthy coastal ecosystems,

sustainable fisheries and aquaculture,

resilient communities,

and environmental literacy
and workforce development.

We have offices around the state,

so if you're have other
Great Lakes questions

or want to connect with the
Sea Grant, here's a quick map

and you can find this on
our Sea Grant website,

Michigan Sea Grant,

and that will be listed at
the end and emailed as well.

So real quick about myself,
my name is Elliot Nelson

and I am an Extension
Educator with Sea Grant

based out of Sault Ste. Marie.

So I typically serve at Eastern UP,

but thanks to the quarantine
world that we live in

I actually get to deliver the program

across the whole state now,

and I do work in the areas of
aquaculture, K-12 Education

and coastal tourism, where
the birding really comes in.

Cindy Hudson is our Editor
and Digital Program Manager,

extraordinary behind the scenes today,

helping to manage the
chat, Q&A and technology.

So that's a little bit about
who's running the show,

but I want to know who else.

We have over 200 participants on.

So please go ahead and share yourself,

but before you do, share this in the chat

I do want to let you know,

that this session today is being recorded.

We will probably at some
point put these up on YouTube.

So although nobody will
be able to see the chat,

the chat is not recorded.

I do want you to be aware
that this is being recorded.

So, anyway, go ahead in the chat now,

just share your name, location

and the last bird you
were able to identify.

So use that Chat function at the bottom

and let us know a little
bit about yourself.

We've got a lot of folks here,

so it's really cool to see
where everybody's coming from,

and you know what, the last
bird you were able to identify.

I'll say for me, it was a pine grosbeak.

So I'm lucky up here in the UP,

to have a really cool finch
species called a pine grosbeak.

But here we see this person,
actually John Diephouse

who allowed us to use a number
of his great photos today

is introducing himself
to a tufted titmouse

feeding right out of his hand.

A really great feeder bird,

only found in the lower Peninsula though,

not in the upper Peninsula.

So we're seeing the chat rolling in,

and we've got lots of people
from lots of different places,

so that's really great.

And so as you keep chiming in on those,

I'm going to start moving ahead,

as you tell us where you're from

and what the last bird
was you saw in the chat,

I'm going to move ahead to
our first section of today

which is why birding?

Why go birding?

Well, there's a lot of
different reasons for that,

but first off, I just want
to say and I'm going to try

turning my video on here for a second,

and Cindy, feel free to let
me know if it's not coming in

but I just want to see,

help you see how exciting this bird is.

So birds are cool.

That's like the first reason
anyone goes birding, right?

Because birds are just
fascinating creatures.

This is a gyrfalcon.

A gyrfalcon is the largest
falcon species in the world.

So you may be familiar with it's cousin,

the peregrine falcon, the
fastest bird in the world

and fastest animal on the planet,

but the gyrfalcon is a massive falcon.

It's a simple, powerful creature.

My friend Sky captured these
photos just a few weeks ago,

in Marquette, Michigan.

And this bird actually has nests up

in the very top of the world.

So nests in the Arctic Circle,

on all these crazy
different cracks and cliffs.

And there's actually evidence,
that these birds return

to the exact same nesting sites,

generation after generation,

and they've actually analyzed
carbon data, the guano

from one of the locations

and found that the guano
from this species of bird,

dates all the way back to 2,700 years ago.

So you imagine a nesting site
being used for 2,700 years.

Things don't change very
much in the high Arctic

like they used to not change,

before climate change
started really impacting.

And so those birds can
return to that same site

generation after generation.

That's just incredible, but
here's another incredible bird.

This one doesn't have
the power and massiveness

of a gyrfalcon.

This is a blackpoll warbler
and this could fit in my hands.

I mean, it is literally
half an ounce, okay?

This bird is so light that
if it landed on your head

on my silly hat here, it would not even,

you wouldn't even feel it.

But this bird every Spring,
lifts off from Venezuela

and from other places in South America

and flies in a single day
nonstop across the Atlantic Ocean

until it reaches the East Coast.

Can you imagine a living
creature, a half an ounce,

flying across the entire Gulf of Mexico

to get to the East Coast of the U.S.?

Well, that's what these birds do

and they don't just stop there,

they land and then they pick up again

and they keep going North all the way up

to the very Western edge of Alaska.

And what's totally insane, is
they don't even do that once.

They then raise young, have
a family, those family fledge

and they head back
South again in the Fall,

and then they'll do it all over again

the next year for several years.

Just incredible. Birds are cool, right?

Really, really cool.


So I'm just geeking
out there a little bit,

but I also think that birds
are really important for us

because they are ecosystem
health indicators.

So birds of the Great
Lake region can tell us

a lot about the health of the ecosystem,

because they feed on,
higher up on the food chain,

and because they're so mobile,

and so dependent on particular resources,

they can be really good
ecosystem indicators.

So here we see a stressors
map of the Great Lakes,

and on the left is Lake Michigan,

and there's a lot of
stressors in Lake Michigan,

and we actually use common
loons to help us track

one of those stressors in
terms of invasive species

and a disease called Avian botulism.

And so Avian botulism affects common loons

really negatively.

And so we can actually
track some of the health

of the ecosystem through that.

Boreal chickadee is another
one that's an indicator of

climate change we've seen
them nearly disappear

from the upper peninsula closely linked

to the progression of climate change.

So not as rosy of a
topic, but they're very

important health ecosystem,
health indicators.

All right.

Finally, birding is really important

because it's an economic driver.

Actually, there has been
over a study in 2011

by a Fish and Wildlife shows that birders

generate $41 billion in just travel,

travel expenses and equipment alone.

So that is a crazy amount of
money that goes into birding.

And so it can really be an economic driver

for coastal communities.

We see that with the Tawas
Point Birding Festival,

with the Aldo Leopold Festival,

and another birding festivals

that can be really important
economic opportunities

for communities.

All right.

So that's why birds kind of matter

but why do you care about birds?

Or why might you care about birds?

Well, there's a lot of different reasons

but you know, for me,

I think that really birding is,

I think for most people starts out

about the discovery
the exploration, right?

Identifying a new bird, that
might be in your backyard,

kind of opens your eyes
to a whole new reality

that's around you.

So, you know, it's kind
of like going out West

for the first time or visiting a mountain

and climbing over a mountain
pass for the first .

You are in awe, these
new things you discover.

But the cool thing about birding,

is you can have that awe
and sense of discovery

literally anywhere, because
birds are everywhere.

They're all over the place.

I even saw a bird in
Home Depot the other day,

so they really get themselves
all over the place.

And so that sense of
discovery is what really draws

a lot of people into birding.

But other folks are really into, you know,

capturing that perfect moment.

So here we can see a
beautiful snowy owl photo ,

just that perfect exact
moment of it taking off .

Photo by Paul Rossi, a bird
photographer up here in the UP.

And that's that kind of
capturing that rare gem,

that perfect moment.

And photography is really where
that leads a lot of people.

So some people love that aspect.

Another aspect is listing,
the competitive part.

This really reinvigorated
my love for birding

in my early twenties.

And that's really where you take your list

and you keep a list of
the species you see.

And really a lot of
people do it in big years.

So they try to keep track
of how many species they see

in a single calendar year,

and they see if they've seen the most.

And so the movie "The Big Year"

is a really great movie to
watch, if you want to learn

a little bit more about this listing.

They're doing a North American Big Year,

but I've done a County Big Year,

recently I did a Chippewa County Big Year.

I hit one of the highest
numbers anybody's hit in a year

from my county.

So that made it really exciting.

And some people even do a patch big year,

or backyard big year.

So you don't have to do
listing far and wide.

You can list right at home and
try to get the biggest list

for your town or your backyard.

The other thing that really
draws a lot of people to birding

is the restorative nature of it.

So there's lots of studies that show,

being outside in nature, and
particularly having your focus

open to all that is around you,

so that you can notice
and spot what's around you

is really restorative, because
we spend so much of our day

intensely focused on a screen
most of the time, right?

Intensely focused on one hard task,

but birding allows you to
open up and expand that focus,

and it can be very restorative.

Lots of good research coming
out about the mindfulness

and mental health benefits of birding,

as well as the physical
benefits of just being outside

and getting some exercise.

And lastly, of course,
there's the social experience.

A lot of people love the clubs,

the birding clubs that are out there,

the festivals that are out
there, the group outings,

finding those birding
buddies to go out with

on a regular basis,

of course, when things
are safe to do that.

So lots of great reasons to go birding,

lots of really fun aspects to get into.

And you may like just one
part of these or all of these.

There's really no limit to how you bird

and what you get out of birding.

All right.

So as we continue on here,

we're about to get to a part where,

like if you have at home a binoculars,

I have my binoculars here.

And if you have them at home,
it's time to get them out

because we're going to dive
into now how to be a birder.

So let's start with the equipment.

All right.

So the very first thing
is if you have binoculars,

take a look at them and see,

is there numbers on them somewhere?

The numbers are sort of the first thing

that people wonder about binoculars

when they go to pick them out,

or purchase some or look
at the ones they have.

So there's two numbers there.

And the first number, which
here is an eight or 10.

And I would say these numbers
normally range at the lowest,

I think I've seen seven
and the highest is like 15

but most of them are eight, 10 or 12,

those are the standard first numbers.

And that number, if you
know it, put it in the chat.

What does that number tell us?

I want to see if anybody knows
what that first number means.

Can anyone get it in
the chat really quick?

What is the first number telling us?

I'm looking at my chat here.

Oh, somebody says 16, magnification.

Yes, you guys got got it.

I see Mike and Kathy and Rose.

That is the magnification.

So the first number there
tells us how many times bigger

is something going to be in our binoculars

versus our naked eye?

So if it's eight, then
it is eight times bigger

than you would see it with your naked eye.

If it's 10 it's 10 times bigger.

All right.

So the first number tells
us the magnification.

And again, it really, for all binoculars

whether they're $30 or $3,000,

they tend to range in
that seven to 15 range

with most birding binoculars
being eight, 10, or maybe 12.

All right. What does
the second number mean?

Can anybody tell us what
that second number is?

This one's a little more technical,

but yeah, yeah, size
of the objective lens.

So it sounds like we've got some birders

that are a little more than one-on-one

already on here and that's great.

I'm glad to see lots of
different folks on here.

So that second number is the
width of the objective lens.

So how far it is in millimeters,

and that tells you how much
light is going to be able

to come into your binoculars.

How much light is going to be able to come

into your binoculars.

So a bigger objective,

means that you'll be able to
see better in darker light.

So if you have a sunset or sunrise,

the sun's not all the way out,
a bigger objective down here

is going to allow more light in.

Now these numbers again though,

don't really very much base
on the expense of binoculars.

So really when you pay
more for binoculars,

what you're paying for is
the quality of the glass,

not more magnification or more light

but the quality of glass,

and that can really change things.

But just wanted to point out that,

you know, when choosing
binoculars, you may want eights,

if, for example, you plan
to do a lot of your birding

in more kind of close quarters.

So in the woods or in shrubby areas,

eight magnification will
allow you to see things

that are fairly close and
still be able to zoom on them.

And it also allows you to
adjust your focus faster.

Because your magnification is lower,

you can adjust and focus things faster.

Once you start getting up to 12 or higher,

now things, if they're too close

won't be able to come into focus.

And by that, I mean like
15, 20 feet, in some cases

if you have a really high
magnification binoculars,

you're not going to be
able to focus on things

that are very close to you.

So that's just one thing to consider.

The other thing to
consider with binoculars

is really just are they
comfortable for you?

And so, you know, you want to
get ones that have eye pieces

that work for you.

So I'm going to stop
sharing a video again,

but there are objective lenses
or lenses here, eye pieces

that actually move and you
can raise them or lower them

versus this type of eye lens

that is just a rubber cap on the top

which you have to fold down.

So just slightly different.

And if you have glasses, for example,

I'll show you my binoculars here.

If you have glasses, you
probably want to lower

your lens caps all the
way down, lower them down,

and then you can put your glasses

right up against the glass.

So if you have glasses,
you want to make sure

you get a pair of binoculars

where you can lower the eye lens caps down

so that you can get your glasses right up

against the glass of the binoculars.

But for most people
that don't have glasses,

then you're going to want your
eye pieces up a little bit

and that way you will be able
to kind of lock your eyes

into the binoculars.

All right.

There's lots of others,
things like HD and ED codings

that add a lot of quality
to your binoculars.

Waterproof is important,

if you're going to be birding outside,

probably find a waterproof pair

and think about warranties too.

I have to send these binoculars in,

if you notice my caps, actually
I had just metal on there.

My rubber caps fell off
and one of them is broken,

but these are a pair of Eagle Optics

which are warrantied by Vortex

and I can send them in and
get them fixed for free.

So that's a nice perk.

All right. So let's move on then.

So that's just some things to think about

when purchasing binoculars and, you know,

you don't have to have
binoculars to bird by any means.

In fact, I know some people
that only bird by ear

or that choose to just not use binoculars,

they like to see things
just with their naked eye.

But if you do want binoculars,

you can really start out
at a pretty low range, $30.

I just had a friend who bought
$30 binoculars on Amazon

and really they will be better
than not having binoculars

if you want to go that route.

So really you can start
out on a very low end

and just explore with $30,
$40 $50 pair of binoculars,

or you can even rent.

Sometimes libraries will
give you binoculars.

They have library loans programs

where you can get binoculars

or your local Audubon chapter

may able to loan you a pair of binoculars,

if you'd like to see a fit for you.

Mid range binoculars are $250 to $750.

That's where mine kind of fall in.

And then there are really expensive ones,

$1000 to $3000, $5000 pair of binoculars.

That's kind of the
range you're looking at,

but don't be afraid to borrow
or go to an optics shop

and try some out.

Okay, so if you have binoculars,

let's get into a little bit
of using the binoculars here.

So the first one thing you want to do,

if you have your binoculars,

I want you to follow along with me here.

And I want you to just
practice using the binoculars

because that's one thing
that a lot of people miss

is how to actually use them.

So find an object that's
maybe across the room from you

and lift your binoculars up
and move the center dial, here,

the center focus, until
that object becomes clear.

It may be fuzzy at first,

but I'm going to look at
my TV across the room,

it's probably about 20 feet from me

and I can get into
focus even with my 10 X,

binoculars goes here.

And so that's the first thing, okay?

Hopefully you've looked at something

and you use that center
dial to get it clear.

Now, the next thing you want to do

is hinge your binoculars and
move the hinge and the barrels

until you see a single image.

If your binoculars are
too far apart like this,

you're going to see two images

and everything's going to be wonky.

So you want to move them down
until you see a single image,

and that image should look something

like this picture here on the right,

where you see a circle
with black around it,

and it's a single image and
focus it till it's clear.

So hopefully you've done that.

Alright, so again, lift, focus and hinge

until you've got a single image.

Now here's a little trick
that not everybody knows about

and it's called the diopter adjustment.

So I'm going to stop
sharing here for a second,

so you can see this.

So most binoculars on the right barrel,

on the right set of lenses here

actually have a dial that you
can turn back left or right.

And this is to allow you
to adjust your binoculars,

if your two eyes are
not of equal strength.

And you may think, oh I've
got glasses or contacts

and my eyes are equal strength,
but I'll tell you guys,

I was doing this earlier with Cindy,

literally earlier today,

and I found out that mine
weren't adjusted right.

My eyes must've changed,
or even in the moment now,

each day your eyes get a little tired

and that may shift a little bit.

So to adjust your diopter
and get a really clear vision

what you want to do again, find an object,

lift up your binoculars and focus on it.

Hopefully you're following along with me.

If you're just watching me
and you have binoculars,

you're making me a full here, okay?

You got to follow along with me.

All right.

So you look at things and you focus it.

Now, what you want to do
is cover your right eye,

cover your right barrel and
just look through the left

and focus again until it's
perfectly crystal clear

with that center focus.

So again, just through the left,

and adjust with that center focus

until you see something in
perfectly clear vision, okay?


So I've got my TV perfectly
clear with the left.

Now, switch to the right...

Cover up the left and
look through the right.

Again, I'm covering up the left

and looking through the right,

and this time I don't want
to touch that center focus,

instead I want to adjust the diopter

until the right is perfectly clear.

And so I just have to put mine

a little bit towards the negative sign,

and now my right eye is perfectly clear.

Double check again, the left's
clear, the right's clear

and now I can look through both,

and have that slight
adjustment for my two eyes,

which don't have exact
same perfect vision.

So hopefully you are able
to follow along with that,

and that will get you being
able to use your binoculars

as clear as possible.

All right.

So again, if you have
questions about that,

please put them in the Q&A portion,

and Cindy will either answer them

or I'll answer them at the end for you.

So again, feel free,

if you have any questions at this point.

I know I'm going kind of fast,

but feel free to put
them in the Q&A there,

and we'll address them.


So the next thing is,

once you've figured out
how to use your binoculars,

just to look at stationary
things, the next question is,

okay how do I use my
binoculars to see birds?

This might be a little bit trickier

because well birds move around,

and that makes it a little bit harder

and you have to work a lot faster.

So again, there's really
three simple things

with locating a bird with your binoculars.

And I will say, preface this a little bit,

this is mostly for
birds in trees or shrubs

that are maybe a hundred
yards or less away from you.

So this is, you know,

kind of for that little
bit more close range.

Not for like a hawk watch or water watch,

where you're watching stuff that may be,

you know half mile or even farther away.

But what you're going to do

is you're going to locate the
bird with your eyes first.

I don't want you to do
what I'll demonstrate.

I'll show you real quick.

So again what you don't want to do

is be out with your
pals and have them say,

oh look, there's a yellow-throated warbler

up at the top of that tree.

And what I see a lot of times on trips

that I'm leading with birders,

is that they'll be so excited
and they want to see it,

that they just instantly
put up their binoculars.

And they're like looking
like this all over the place.

And they're like, I don't
know what I'm looking at.

And that's because you really need to try

to find the bird first with your eyes

without lifting up the binoculars.

The binocular closes
off your field of view

to a very small portion.

So if you don't already
know where the bird is,

you're going to need to find the bird

with your naked eyes first.

And if you asked that birdie, you know,

to give you some descriptors,

of course, they'll probably just say,

it's in the tree, by
the leaf and the branch,

which isn't super helpful,

but if you find that bird,
looking for that motion

in the tree, or in the shrub, or wherever,

once you see that bird,
keep your eyes on it,

lock eyes on that bird and
continue to keep your eyes on it.

Don't look down, don't
look at your binoculars,

and raise your binoculars to look

hopefully directly at that bird.

So I want you to try
this really quick again.

Try along with me, find your
spot that you're looking at,

it doesn't have to be a moving object,

we'll start easy, with something still.

Find it and keep your eyes on
it, and without looking down

without breaking contact with
that, put your binoculars up.

This is going to be a lot easier way

to find a bird in your binoculars,

as opposed to just first
looking up and looking around.

Like I said earlier,
preface that a little bit.

If you're at a hawk watch, or like,

let's say you're at a pond

and you want to scan the edge of the pond,

or you want to scan the pond for waterfall

or the edge for shorebirds,

then you may look at
your binoculars and scan.

But for most birds that are moving around,

that are within a hundred yards or less,

this is the method that
you're going to use.

Yeah. So I think that covers that.

Hopefully you followed along,

and hopefully you found a
little bit of that helpful.

I guess the other thing to note

is if you lift up your binoculars

and the bird's not right there,

you may want to take note of the features

that around the bird.

So for example, with this trogan here,

which is not a bird that you're
going to see in Michigan,

it's a tropical species of
Central American, South America.

This giant tree here, right?

If you lift up your binoculars

and you know that you're on
the right side of the tree,

but you remember that the
bird was on the left side

of that large tree,

then knowing that landscape
around a little bit

can help you focus in.

Okay, we're going to move
on to the next thing here.

Let's see what we got next.

Ah, yes. Okay.

So really quick note on
other types of equipment,

binoculars is kind of the baseline

along with the field guide,
which we'll get to later,

but you can of course get
into other sorts of things.

So this is a scope on the left
here, the Vortex Diamondback.

This is really helpful for
very long distance viewing

but it's a whole another
skill you have to build

in terms of being able to find
and view birds with a scope.

But these will have much
larger magnification,

40, 50, 60, some even 75 magnification.

So it's for much farther viewing,

but they are more expensive,

and they are a lot
heavier than binoculars,

because you normally have
to use these with a tripod.

So I have a scope but
I don't always use it

because I'm lazy and I
don't want to lug it around

all over the place.

So that's one thing to
note with the scope,

it is a little heavier.

And the other thing here on the
right is of course a camera.

So there are all sorts of
different kinds of cameras,

and most of them you're going to need

at least a halfway decent zoom or lens

that will be able to zoom for you

to be able to really
get any photos of birds.

Because normally you're
pretty far away from a bird

or the bird is so small, even
if you're only 15 feet away

it's still going to look
really tiny in your camera

unless you've got a nice zoom.

Now it used to be that you could only buy

really expensive cameras to zoom that far,

but now they make things
like Compact Canon Powershot

that have 50 times zooms.

I actually have mine here,

and I'm kind of going the wind side,

but I would love it if
anybody that has a nice camera

for taking pictures of birds,

share that in the chat right now.

If you have a camera that
you think works for you,

I'd love to hear what you've
got and share it in the chat

and obviously get to
see that and read that.

But yeah, mine's a Powershot,
so it does magnify by 50,

and it was kind of, I think
in the three or $400 range,

which is a nice option, if
you want to lower costs.

It doesn't take great pictures,

but I use it actually in lieu
of my scope a lot of times,

so I don't have to lug my scope around.

Okay. Whoa!

Moving on.

Let's see what we got next. All right.

So next is field skills.

Ooh, this part's going to be kind of fun

and a little bit tricky.

So let's dive in.

So one thing with binoculars
when you master and keep an eye

you'll find stuff with them

or if you're opting to
not go with binoculars,

which is totally fine,

you're going to want to work
on your observation skills.

With any bird ID, the first
thing is to observe the bird.

So here we have a bird.

And if I was to see this
out, while I'm out and about,

this as a species, you can
find anywhere in Michigan.

And if I was to see this
while I'm out and about,

I would want to observe it first.

So observing the bird will help you

be able to notice certain features.

So I want you in the chat really quick,

to note what are some of the
features you know of this bird?

What are some of the features,
you know in this bird?

So again, if you've got the chat open,

put into the chat, what are
some of the specific features,

you notice on this bird?

So I'm seeing a red, red at the top.

Yeah, a crest at the top.

Yeah, a very long and pointy beak, right?

And long is a relative term, right?

But long compared to, you know, its head

it's like the length of its head, right?

Or maybe even a little longer.

I'm seeing a lot of black or dark body.

Oh and then another
size one is really good,

in that it's larger than a robin.

So it's not just that it's big
but it's larger than a robin.

And that's really good.

So these are a lot of
the things you might note

right off the bat.

Structure and pattern also relative size.

So structure, you know, it
would be the crest at the top

on that long skinny bill,

pattern might be the black
and white facial markings

or the red at the top, that
light color at the top.

Notice, we're kind of avoiding
to a certain degree color

because color can be relative,

and color can really look different

based on different lighting.

So pattern, structure, relative
size, bigger than a robin,

this is, and now I'm
hearing some behavior stuff

coming through the chat, yeah.

So it has a really unique
kind of noise when it flies,

and a unique flight pattern,

also, if you saw this on a tree

it would be climbing up
vertically on a tree,

and you might even see it
whack its head into the tree,

a bunch whack, whack, whack.

And so that probably starts that behavior

probably cues you in,

that this is some animal that
is in the woodpecker family.

Now, after you've done that observation,

I would say one of the best things to do,

is to look at that bird
for as long as you can

and then once you've got
a lot of great features,

take some notes really quick

or switch over trying to get a photo.

So again, observe the
bird as long as you can

note as much as your brain can hold,

and then quickly jot that down

because if you don't your
memory is going to fade

really fast.

And as soon as you open your field guide,

you might be like, oh yeah,
that does look like...

You start seeing a bunch of
other birds in your field guide

and you start to think, hmm,

now I can't exactly remember
what that bird looked like.

So having a field notebook
with you is really helpful

or alternatively, you can
switch then at that point,

you're trying to nab some pictures

and then finally you would
consult your field guide.

So here we see, this is from
the wind side field guide

and this is one page at the
start of the woodpeckers.

So this kind of a page
on the Sibley field guide

is really nice because it
lays out the major families

of woodpeckers there and the
major genuses of woodpeckers,

and pretty quickly you
can narrow it down, right?

You can feel free to put in the chat

if you've figured out
what bird this is yet.

It is the largest woodpecker
in all of North America.

It is basically a size of
a chicken or a large crow.

It is so cool.

It's such a coolest bird.

It is called a pileated
or pileated woodpecker.

I don't care how you pronounce it,

and most birders won't either,

but there are a couple of
different pronunciations.

So this is a pileated or
a pileated woodpecker.

A beautiful bird, really, really amazing.

So that's kind of the route we go then

when it comes to bird identification.

Observe notes, take notes or take photos

and then consult your field guide,

which I'll get to in a moment

on how to kind of choose a field guide.

So here is another one,

so I'm going to pull that chat back up,

just a second here,

so I can see what's going
on with everyone here,

but yeah, so we have another bird here

and this bird is a little bit different.

So again, notice what things
do you notice about this bird?

So go ahead and put in
the chat if you want,

or just say, think it in your own head,

or tell the person next to
you or just shout it out loud.

So I see a small perching bird.

That's a really great observation.

So this bird has a different style of legs

that allows it to perch, which
puts it in the passer group.

Small beak, compact. Yeah, no neck.

That's a really good observation too.

It's a very squat bird, fluff.

That was a wonderful
observation, whoever made that.

They're flying through really fast.

But so this bird also
has two tones, right?

Has a darker back and a
lighter colored belly.

And some might even notice

that it has white outer tail feathers

which is another unique feature.

So this bird is smaller,
if you saw this bird

you'd probably know right
away that it's small,

it's smaller than a robin.

And so hopefully those
things might also cue you in

along with the fact that
it might be on the ground,

scratching the ground,
picking stuff off the ground

that might cue you in that
this is in the Sparrow group.

So here are the major
genuses in the Sparrow group.

And if you look at this,

there's only a couple options of birds

that aren't brown and streaky, right?

This bird isn't brown and streaky,

it's two-tone dark on top, light on bottom

and you could probably quickly get it down

to blockchain sparrow or possibly a Junco.

One of these two Junco species.

So if you opened up your field guide

and you went to blockchain sparrow,

you'd see it's a bird
of the Southwest only.

it's very limited range
in the lower 48 States.

So that would probably
rule it out of Michigan

as would yellow-eyed Junco,

although nothing's impossible,
we do get rarities.

But if you looked at those range maps

you would then know that this
bird is a dark-eyed Junco

which does come in quite
a few color varieties.

But this bird is the kind
of slate, colored version

of a Junco.

So hopefully that was something

you were able to follow along there.

And I see a lot of people
saying this is a bird I have,

yes this is a backyard
bird, that's fairly common,

especially in the winters
in the lower Peninsula

but can be found early during any season

across most of Michigan.

In the Northern part of
Michigan, they breed.

And so this is a dark-eyed Junco.

All right.

So let's move on to the last one here

of this little quiz we're doing.

And then we'll kind of wrap things up

with a little bit of resources
and get to our Q&A time

which we have about seven minutes or so.

So this is another species of birds.

So let's start with
those observations again.

I see Waterberg yeah.

Habitat is really important here, right?

It's a swimming bird, not all birds swim.

Deep bill kind of whitish grayish, yeah.

A long, long, deep bill, very
loon-like somebody says yes.

So we might be on to something there.

It has a white neck on the front part

and a dark neck on the back
part and a nice long neck.

So lots of great observations
here, all sorts of good stuff.

So if we open up our field guides then,

we're probably going to go
to the waterbird section.

But if you look at the duck section,

you're going to see most ducks

don't have that long pointy bill

and they don't have that
dark kind of coloration.

So there's another waterfall section

which is actually the loons and grebes.

Now loons and grebes really match this,

especially that bill, right?

That deep bill, that long S shape neck

that kind of longated body
with the legs in the back.

If you were to see this bird on land

it probably couldn't even walk on land

because those legs are
actually at the very back

of the body, which means
it's a great swimmer.

So now we know this is a loon

but the question is which loon?

Well, we can see there's some loons

that have much more thin petite bills

and kind of more rounded heads,

like the red throat in the Pacific,

Arctic kind of falls into there.

But there are two loons that match this

head structure really well, right?

Common loon and yellow billed loon.

So let's take a look at those.

And again, this is the
Sibley guide I'm using here.

And if we look there's well...

Let's look real quick at the range map.

We see, okay, in Michigan
yellow billed loon is very rare.

Although we do have one
or two confirmed sightings

in the history of time,

where people have been
tracking birds in Michigan

but it's probably not that,

but we could also see that
the bill on this bird,

isn't really yellow.

It's more of a grayish, light gray color.

And so that can help key us in

that this is actually a common loon.

A species you probably wouldn't recognize

if I showed you the breeding plumage

but this is what they look like

in September through March

or also what the juveniles look like

in August through February.

First summer bird even
could look like this

through the majority of the summer.

So I'm just like note that,

common birds do have different plumages

based on the time of the
year for some species.

And that's a good thing to keep track of.

Yeah, they do sound really
eerie, somebody noted.

All right.

So those are you know,
just our quick ID tips

and kind of move on there.

But I do want to just really quick

give you some recommendations.

You notice that I kept
referencing a field guide.

And so field guides are really
your other key component

because field guides are going
to tell you a lot of details.

When most people look at a bird

they think of the image on the right here.

It's a bird, that's the bird.

And then that other parts of the bird.

And then that other part is also the bird.

And then that part of the top is a bird,

that that part at the bottom is the bird,

and it's the bird.

But once you get a field
guide you'll start learning

that there are actually
lots of unique portions

of a bird and names.

So let's cover what maybe
you would want to think

about with a field guide.

Well, first is photos or illustrations.

What's better?

It is personal preference,

but I'm just going to
give you what I think

a beginning birder should use.

And you can totally
ignore me. It's up to you.

This is just my opinion.
It is not official.

Actually, all of this
is really not official,

so the first I think illustrations

are a little better than photos
in terms of the field guide.

There are some wonderful
field guides out there

that are photos, but they
can only show you so much

whereas that illustration
can highlight all the things

that are most important
and most diagnostic.

Next is do you want it to be
a comprehensive field guide?

Meaning it shows all the
birds that are possible

or species group specific.

So I have a Warbler Guide and Raptor Guide

but for new birders,
you could probably guess

that a comprehensive
guide is a little better

because you can't stop
other birds from showing up.

So if you want to just learn warblers,

you can buy a Warbler Guide, that's great.

And you can go out,

but you're not going to just see warblers.

You're going to see
all the different ones.

So if you're a beginning
birder, first time,

I would say an illustrated
comprehensive guide

then state, regional or national,

I would say get something that's
a little more narrow focus.

So you can get Michigan Bird
Guides, which are all right

or you can get regional guides

like Eastern North America Guide.

I would say those are probably better

than necessarily a national one,

because the national
one's going to have birds

that you're not going
to see here in Michigan

like out West and are also a
lot heavier to carry around.

Finally, most bird guides
will have a range map

and additional information
like I showed you earlier,

and sometimes those are grouped

at the very back of the book,

separate from the illustrations,

and sometimes they're grouped
with the illustration.

So of course I think that
grouping it with the illustration

or image is a little more helpful

because you have that
immediate reference for range.

Again, this is all your opinion

what you think works for you,

but either way the bird guide
will have introduction part

at the start, that'll really help you

start to learn the names
or the parts of the bird.

And also it's just a lot
of fun to look through.

So here's just a short list
of different bird guides

not comprehensive, not an endorsement,

but I have these guides and
I find them really useful.

So that's all that I'm sharing here.

The Peterson's and the
Sibley can also be an app

on your phone.

So if you buy one of these books,

you can actually see if I
can get this pull up here,

hopefully my internet holds out.

I've heard there's been some issues.

So I have the Sibley Guide
in the book form here,

which is really nice and is
a great thing to look through

and study and to really learn
your different bird families

but for the field, I really like the app.

So I have the Sibley app here on my phone,

if it, the Sibley app here on phone

and this has all the
different bird listed here

and I can click on one

and then I can see the images

that would be in the field guide.

And I can actually click
on the range map down here

and I can click on the call,

which is something that
the books don't have,

which is kind of nice to be able to hear

that call of the bird.

(bird chirping)

That is the wonderful
sounds of a Tundra Swan

which is a bird that migrates through,

in the Spring and Fall.

And it actually groups up
in the tens of thousands

in Lake Erie is where they
spend some of the Winter.

So an amazing book.

So I will email you all out these guides

and some of the other
resources I'm sharing,

I'm seeing some questions
about which ones.

And so, yeah, I will email these resources

and somebody did make a question on,

I'm just going to answer really
quick, about which edition.

So for editions, having an
older edition is totally fine.

The only reason they update bird's guides

is to update the names and taxonomy.

So sometimes bird names will change,

based on new research or new discoveries

or a variety of other reasons.

And sometimes a species may
be actually split into two.

So recently there's
actually been some lumps,

where a species have
been grouped together.

Like we used to have
thayer's gull, Iceland gull

and herring gull, and
they're all very similar.

And recently thayer's and
herring or thayer's and Iceland

were lumped back together rather.

And so that was what the
older editions might not have,

but any edition of a field guide

is still going to be pretty useful.

You don't necessarily have
to have the most up-to-date.

Okay, we're running out of time here.

I want to get to our Q&A session.

I will just share, this is my
birding guide from my youth.

My grandparents gave this to me in 1994

when I was a younger kid
and I absolutely loved it.

And really that's what's
great about bird guides.

They can become part of
your kind of history here.

And in this guide I wrote
the first time I saw species,

the date and the location, I saw it.

So I kept my life list in this book

and it means a lot to me
and I really value it.

And so I would just say, you know,

get that that principal's guide,

make it your own and learn it.

And that's, that's really
a wonderful joy to have.

Okay, if you don't want
to get a bird guide,

and you want something a little helpful,

Merlin Bird ID app, is an
app you can get on Android

or Smart or I phones and you can actually,

it'll take you through
a series of questions.

Like what size was the bird you saw?

What colors was it?

Was the bird doing these
different behaviors?

And it'll give you a short
list of what you possibly saw.

So that's a really nice and free resource

from the Cornell Lab of Ornithology.

And it's called the Merlin Bird ID app.

Again, I'll email you these
names of these resources.

So last but not least, some
common pitfalls to avoid.

I mentioned this earlier,

don't have an over-reliance on color.

You know, if you're looking
for that tiny yellow dot

on the bill of a bird or
that tiny little red dot

on that herring gull, you
might not see it, right?

Unless you have a really good view.

So be careful with an
over-reliance on color

but pattern is really
important and structure.

Another thing is size is hard to judge.

So if you see a bird in the sky

and you think that's got to
be an eagle, it looks massive,

but you don't have anything in that sky

to compare it against.

You might be surprised to find out

that it's actually just like
a herring gull or something

and herring gulls actually
have pretty long wingspans,

same almost actually longer
than a snowy owl does.

So you look up in the
sky, you might think,

Oh there's a snowy owl,

but you don't have any size
to reference it against.

So it's hard to know
size without something

to compare it to.

But looking at relative proportions

like how long is the
tail compared to the body

or how long has the bill
compared to the head,

those would be more helpful
than terms like bigger or small

and last but not least is
expectations and memory.

Your memory fades very fast,

so the quicker you can jot down notes,

and the less you can jump to a conclusion

until you're able to confirm
that, the better off you'll be.

But in the end, it's
important to remember,

it's okay to not ID every bird,

you are a beginning birder,
although from the comments,

I think not everybody's
a beginning birder here,

but that's okay.

It's okay to not ID every bird.

You're new at this, you're learning.

It's totally okay to be wrong too,

to make a guess and to learn,
oh, turns out I was not right.

That's okay.

That's part of being in a new hobby.

And remember if that's stressing you out

or all this was so much
info, that you're like,

I don't think I could ever be a birder.

You don't have to be an
expert birder to have fun

and to be out there, enjoying the birds.

So just have a good time,
that's really what it's about.

Okay, so I'm about to wrap things up

but I will just say that
if you want to learn more

or you want to find more
ways to learn about birds,

other than being out,

there's a lot of great Facebook groups.

There's a group that just is
for posting pictures of birds

and having people help
tell you what it was.

It's called, "What's this bird."

There's Michigan Birding groups
with thousands of members,

there's regional groups,

there's a rare bird
list that I help manage,

and there are also a
website all about birds

which has great info on every
species in North America.

There are also of course,
clubs and nonprofits

Michigan Audubon has sort
of the premier Michigan club

and they have regional
chapters all across the state

like the Ausable Valley Audubon,

I actually know that one
or two of the members

from the Ausable Valley Audubon
are on our chats tonight.

Maybe they can chime in.

But we have the Grand Rapids Audubon Club,

SU Naturalists.

There are Audubon clubs across most parts

of the state of Michigan,
and so you can seek those out

and they'll we'll have virtual programs,

and maybe when things are
safe, in person programs.

The American Birding Association

is a national group
that is also really good

at supporting birders in
their hobby of birding.

All right.

So I'm only five minutes over
schedule, not too bad for me.

So this is a time for us to
start taking some questions,

Cindy if you want to chime in and ask me

but I can also start looking
at the questions we have.

I'm going to leave this slide up

and try to turn my video back on.

So these are the slides that you saw

at the start from, again from John Davis.

These are the names of the birds.

If you were able to identify
them earlier or not,

looks like too, I'm now getting
caught up on the chat here.

We have Capital Erika
Audubon society as well.

So yeah--

- [Cindy] Elliot, Elliot. Yeah.

Great presentation Elliot.

I am just going to say
Elliot does not actually have

a really slow speech
pattern that then speeds up

beyond the fastest
thing you've ever heard.

It really is just his internet.

So thank you for hanging in there with us

as he kind of modulated his
speed a little bit sometimes.

I do have one question here that is,

are there any endangered
bird species in Michigan?

- Yes. Yes.

We have a number of endangered
and threatened species.

One of the more prominently
known ones is the piping plover.

That is a bird that
nests along shorelines.

It really nests exclusively on sandy

kind of dune swale areas
or or cobbly sandy areas

that are a bit of both.

And yeah, that's a really unique species.

We also have the, of course the endangered

Kirtland's warbler, although that is,

I think in the process
or has been delisted.

So that's a species that
was only found in Michigan

in Jack Pine Forest, a
really unique habitat

that really only comes from forest burns.

And that species basically was almost gone

because we stopped allowing forest fires.

We really didn't have any
natural burns anymore.

And so that habitat Jack
Pine habitat was disappearing

but through a lot of
effort, and a lot of work ,

Kirtland's warblers went from ,

I think only a couple hundred
birds that were singing,

a couple of hundred males,

all the way to now where
you have a couple thousand

and they're actually
being found in the UP now

and in parts of a little bit Ontario

and a little bit of Wisconsin.

So they are really recovered.

There are a number of other endangered

and threatened species.

We have both federal designation and state

and I encourage you to check out the DNR

or the Fish and Wildlife website to learn

a little bit more about those.

All right, let's see what
other questions we have.

- Well, I know you talked about...

I know you and I both believe
that all seasons in Michigan

are the best for birding,

but there are some seasons
and there are seasons

that bring the Spring festivals
and the Fall festivals.

Where do you find the festivals,

and how do you plan your calendar

for optimum bird watching?

- Yeah, so you definitely nailed it.

There are many seasons of birding

and each bring their own unique thing.

But in terms of festivals, you know

we have several great birding festivals

that are a great opportunity to sign up

and be able to go on guided trips,

which is really one of the
best way to learn how to bird,

to be able to go out with somebody

that already knows how to do it,

and get that kind of mentorship
is one of the best ways.

So to find out some of the bird festivals

you can check out the
Michigan Audubon website,

they have their own
festivals that they do,

and they have a few keystone ones,

a Crane Fest down in
the Jackson in the Fall,

a Cerulean Warber Festival in
July or early June, I believe.

And Barry County,

they have their Whitefish
Point Spring Festival.

It is the longest running
festival in Michigan

up here by me in the
UP, it's a early Spring,

and it's very cold normally,
but it's a lot of fun.

So the Michigan Audubon
website is a good one.

And then if you google birding festivals

I believe there is a website called

the birdingfestivals.com
or something like that,

that lists additional birding festivals.

The Michigan Audubon isn't
the only one to put them on.

Tawas Birding Festival
is now, not every year.

Does Michigan Audubon involved that?

So you check out the Tawas
Birding Festival website,

Up here I have the Aldo Leopold Festival

and Cedar Ville, Michigan.

So yeah, just do a little googling,

but start with the
Michigan Audubon website

and then check out the
birding festivals website.

We don't have many Winter festivals

but Winter is a great time to go birding

especially in the Eastern UP.

And we do normally have Audubon chapters.

I can think of Oakland Audubon Grant,

the Traverse Area Audubon,

and also the General Michigan Audubon

lead Winter birding trips
up here in the Eastern UP.

And then, because we have a
lot of really unique species

you can't see at other times a year,

we have a lot less birds

but we have ones that won't be here,

in the rest of the year, like snowy owls

which are really high priority,

but also cool things
like Bohemian waxwings

and pine grosbeaks.

And I'm getting ahead of myself,

because I think we have
a Winter birding session

in two weeks.

So I better not spoil all the fun there.

- [Cindy] Yeah I'll tell you what,

I hear a couple of people asking
questions about those LBBs.

How do you identify the little brown birds

that we often call sparrows?

- Yeah. Yeah.

So I'm going to stop
sharing here for a second,

and have my sound leveled up at all, Cindy

or are we still all over the place?

- [Cindy] Yeah, you're doing it.

So it's a little bit of everything.

- Okay, well, I'm just
going to show something

and hopefully it doesn't
crash my internet here

but this is a great ID guide
from a really unique artist

and it shows the facial patterns
is really one of the keys

for sparrows in particular

which are all kind of brown and streaky.

But you'll notice when you start looking

at the order of the brown
and what they're set on,

so for example, an East sparrow
has brown gray, brown, gray

let's annotate this really quick,

some brown, gray, brown, gray,

whereas the chipping sparrow
which looks very similar

and you might think, oh there's
no way I can tell them apart

but actually it's brown,
white, black, gray.

So when you see these
two species side by side,

they really do look similar.

But when you start to key
on those subtle differences

in face pattern, that can help.

The other thing is to maybe take a look

at the section in your book.

And I think this is from
the Peterson Field Guide,

and this again shows you
those facial patterns,

because that's really what
helps a lot with sparrows.

Structure is another thing,

like some of these sparrows
are really long-tailed

or really barrel chested.

But they're tough, it takes practice.

- [Cindy] Another question
that we've received

a couple in on is, they've
seen a lot of robins around

and thought that robins didn't
necessarily stay in Michigan.

Is that not true?

- Yeah, so that's a great question,

that I have actually just answered twice

on our Ask an Expert
website through E Extension,

where you can ask any
extension agent any question,

which is a really cool website.

If you haven't seen it
before, Ask an Expert

but that is a misnomer that robins leave,

all of them leave in the Winter.

In fact, pretty much
every County in Michigan

has reported Wintering robins
and especially Downstate,

robins are fairly common,

but what happens
essentially is that robins

don't really migrate based on time of year

but they rather migrate
based on food availability.

So robins will stay around,

particularly where there
are fruiting trees,

but there's not enough fruit trees,

for all the robins to stay.

So a lot will go South,
but some will stay.

And they'll actually group
up into pretty big flocks

and rove around and feed on
fruit trees during the Winter.

And a lot of people think
they're gone because,

A, we do have less,

but B they're not hopping
around on your lawn.

They're not, you know,
picking worms off the ground,

rather they are feeding
on these fruit trees

that might not even be in your yard,

and so that's why you don't notice them.

They don't really come
to feeders in the Winter

but we do have robins
year round in Michigan

especially in the lower
Peninsula, South of Cadillac.

And again, there are these roving flocks

and there are smaller numbers,

because they migrate based on food.

- [Cindy] Here's a really
interesting question I think.

My area has bear population,

so we're encouraged to
not that feed the birds

other than in the Winter.

Any other time than Winter,

are there any safe ways to feed birds

in the non-hibernating season?

- Yeah, so this is definitely kind of,

it's sort of a a tough issue
to crack, a tough nut to crack.

This spring, I had my feeders
set three times by bears

until I finally gave up.

And so yeah, in the Spring especially,

if you are in a black bear area

it's probably best to
take your feeders down

for a little while.

Black bears are going
to be able to rip apart

anything you got and crack it open.

I've lost several bird feeders
to bears over the years,

but in the Winter months and Fall,

when they hibernate,

you're not going to have any problems.

If you'd like to leave your
feeders up in the Spring,

and you're in the bare area,

one key might be to try
to put it very high up

although they can definitely climb trees.

But if you have it high up
in a far out on a branch

you might be a little bit better off.

Some people use little
rope pulling systems

to like really string over a thin branch,

then pull the feeder up,

so it's higher than a bear can reach

and it's farther out on a thin branch.

So they can't just climb that branch out.

So that might be one way to avoid.

I think the official
recommendation from the DNR

is to take your feeders down
in the Spring and the Summer.

I'm not going to say
that that's what I do,

but I'm not going to say to not do that.

So you kind of have to make
those adjustments as you can

but definitely be aware
that that is something

that can happen, if you have
animals that live outside,

you definitely want to avoid
having bird feeders out

especially in the Spring
when bears are hungry

and come out of hibernation

- [Cindy] Elliot, we've
reached the end of our time.

I can't believe it, it's zipped by,

but we do have a lot of
questions that are leftover.

And quite a few of them are
about specifically field guides

or birding apps,

and I'm hoping that maybe
what I can convince you to do

is when we send out this next,
send out the email to folks,

we might just include some
additional information

and answer these questions there.

- Yeah, and I will take a couple
more of these really quick,

if that's okay.

- [Cindy] If you guys, and
if you want to hang on,

awesome, feel free.

- Right.

- [Cindy] One question that came in was

what's the best habitat
to find snowy owls?

- So snowy owls like to live in the Tundra

in the Summer months,
up in the higher Arctic

or just South of the Arctic Circle.

And so they find similar
habitats down here,

which means not a lot of trees.

So snowy owls like open field areas,

particularly hay fields,

because a hay field is a monoculture.

I'm not going to use too much of this,

because I am going to cover
this in the Winter Birding one,

but yeah, open fields and then
shorelines, coastal areas.

So the Thumb of Michigan along Saginaw Bay

like Fishpoint Wildlife area,

and then the Eastern UP where
we have tons of hay fields,

those are kind of your primary spots.

Also along the Lake Michigan
shoreline and the dune habitat,

or again, it's not a
lot of trees on the dune

and they like those shoreline areas

because they will actually eat sea ducks

as well as eating mice
and other small mammals.

- [Cindy] Is there a way to
attract bluebirds to my yard,

Southeast Michigan?

- Yeah, so if you want to feed bluebirds,

there's something that many bird shops

and some big bird stores
sell called mealworms.

And bluebirds will actually
come to a mealworm feeder.

It's hard to keep other
birds out of mealworms

because they like them too,

especially some of like
the starlings and towees,

but starlings in particular.

But yeah, mealworms, you can put out

and that can attract
bluebirds to your feeders

even in the Winter months.

Another bird that actually
is around in the Winter

although not nearly as large of numbers

as we see them in the Spring and Summer,

but bluebirds will even be around

in the Winter and mealworms.

The other thing you can do is
try to create a nice habitat

in your backyard and put up bluebird boxes

which I'll cover a little bit more

in the Backyard Birding Class next week.

- [Cindy] And Elliot,
we've had several people

who unfortunately had to log in late.

And so they're worried
about the recording.

If you could just go over the information

on how we're going to get
that up on our YouTube

- We have recorded this

and we will have to do a little editing

especially I think with the
audio issues we've been having.

So I can't say exactly when we
will put this on our YouTube

but we will put this up on our
Michigan Sea Grant YouTube.

And once it's up, we will email it to you.

We will need to close caption it.

So there may be a little
bit of a time delay

before it gets out to you,

but we will put this up on
YouTube after we've edited it.

I'm just not going to
commit on when, how long

it might be from now.

So I see one question here, I
want to answer really quick.

So do binoculars take photos?

I don't know if you're still
on Laura, but binoculars,

there are a couple of
binoculars that take photos.

I can't speak to the quality of them.

They're definitely more
expensive than a normal pair,

but a lot of people will take
their binoculars they have,

regardless of what they are,

and they will take their cell phones

which actually have quite
amazing photo abilities

and they will hold it up just like so,

and look through their binocular

and this is called digital
printing or digital scoping.

And this is another way

that you can just turn your binoculars

into a quick camera.

It's not going to be
necessarily the highest quality.

And it does take some practice
to line it up just right.

But I have known a number
of birders and myself,

this was the only thing I did,

until just last year when
I finally got a camera.

So that's probably, you know,

you can definitely buy the
ones with binoculars in them

but you can also just try that out

or even buy an attachment that allows you

to click your binocular right into place

on your bins or your scope.

Well I think maybe like you said, Cindy

I can see take some of these
other questions at a later date

and maybe send them some out,

but we are a bit overtime here now.

So I do see a couple that just came in,

so I'll answer these two really quick.

Jill asks, how has the
sandhill crane numbers grown

or have they really grown?

Is that why we see them more?

Yes, sandhill cranes have
made a pretty decent recovery

on their East population.

The West population are kind
of in the Central Plains area

has been strong for a long time,

but the Eastern flyaway
population has really recovered

quite nicely in certain areas,

although they are still
a threatened species

in some of the States, South of Michigan,

but the Michigan population
has seen a decent recovery

over time due to, in a
large part, removal of DDT,

a pesticide that affected sandhill cranes

in the same way that it
affected bald eagles,

because sandhill cranes eat a lot of bugs

and eat a lot of mice

and other they'll even
eat snakes in fields.

And so that same kind of effect of DDT

going up the food chain and
hurting their eggs happened.

I also see another question that says

why don't robins feed on feeders?

It's because they tend to
either eat fruit or insects.

They're not really very good seed eaters.

They don't have bills
that can really crack open

the seeds very well,

and so that's why you
don't see them on feeders

but if you put out mealworms

or if you have a fruit tree in your yard,

like hawthorn or CRAT
apple, you may have robins.

Another question come in
just a minute or two ago.

I don't know if you're still here Jess,

but is it true once you start
feeding birds in the Winter

that birds could starve if
you stop for some reason?

In general that is not true.

Birds will not only eat at your feeders,

they'll eat at your neighbors feeder

and your other neighbors feeder.

And they will also eat a
lot of native food sources

that are already out.

So Winter bird feeding, that's
a nice supplement for birds,

but if you stop feeding,
the birds we'll leave.

The nice thing about
birds is that it can fly,

and it can go find a new food source.

So in general, if you stop
feeding birds in the Winter

your birds will just go
find a new food source.

Although it is a nice thing
to provide that supplement.

I see another question.

What are your favorite
binoculars for everyday birding?

I don't think I can really answer that

because I only have one pair of binoculars

as much as I love birding.

I don't have a lot of money.

So I have one pair of binoculars.

They're actually from a brand
that doesn't exist anymore.

But like I said, they're Vortex made.

So Vortex sells very similar ones.

I liked the lifetime warranty on them,

because I have to send
them in quite often,

because I'm hard on my binoculars,

but you know, go to an optic store

and try out the binoculars and
see what's really comfortable

and works for you, that's
what's most important.

Another one that says...

Oh yeah, I answered that one.

Another one says, what kind of fruit

do you put out for robins?

So it's really not necessarily fruit

that you could put out for them,

but it is trees that you could plant.

So native hawthorn trees are really great

fruit tree to plant.

If you can get them through
your local land conservancy

and plant native, that's
going to be way better

for the birds in your backyard.

If you're buying ornamental
trees with fruit,

that are not native to Michigan,

you're not going to necessarily
have as many birds on them.

Another good one is dogwoods, dogwoods.

There are many different native dogwoods

and then mountain-ash is
another very popular tree

for fruit eating birds in the Winter.

So again, check with your
local conservation services.

So we have Chippewa Mackinac
Luce Conservation District

up here and they actually sell

these native fruit trees every Spring.

And so each of your
counties will have their own

conservation districts that sell.

Often, many of them will
sell native fruit trees

to help plant.

I think we're kind of at
the end of the questions

that just came in and I see
some comments in the Q&A

but so I think that is
going to wrap us up.

I need to kind of wrap
things up here at home too.

So I just want to say thank you everyone

for attending today.

If we didn't get to your question

and we'll try to address
them later through the email.

You can always email me your questions,

or like I said, check out
that Ask an Expert site.

Next week, we'll be talking
about backyard birds

and how to identify the ones
that might be in your backyard.

How to feed the birds, what to feed them,

and also how to make a
habitat that's safe and good

for birds in your own backyard.

So again, thank you everyone.

We look forward to seeing you next week,

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So, have a goodnight everyone.