Birding Challenges

Fun activities to practice your birding skills

monthly birding challenge: January

The First Bird

Each year, January is a month for firsts- first hikes, the first time trying new hobbies and resolutions, the first day back to school and work.  For some birders, there’s another first to throw in the January mix- the first bird!  Out of all the amazing, wonderful birds that live in our area, which bird will you see first in the new year?

I’m guessing that my first bird for 2021 will be either the Carolina Wren that likes to sing outside my bedroom window or a Ring-billed Gull flying over on its way to the Delaware River.  But who knows- maybe it will be something completely unexpected!  That’s the fun of birding.

If you enjoy keeping track of the birds you have seen (like your first bird) be sure to check out eBird!  This is an international database of bird sightings, where birders from all over the world enter checklists with the names, numbers, and locations of birds they have seen.  While keeping lists is absolutely not required to be a birder, it can be fun to look back and remember fun trips or special birds.  You can also add pictures and sound recordings from your outings.

The data is also available to researchers who are studying birds around the world.  For example, your sighting of a Black-bellied Whistling Duck in Delaware might help document that species’ spread up the eastern seaboard from its historic range in the south.  Meanwhile, not finding an American Kestrel where they have always been seen in the past helps scientists track that species’ decline, so they can work to protect them better.

Ebird is available as a phone app and a website, so you can access it anywhere.  Why don’t you try keeping a list the next time to take a walk?  Get started by clicking the buttion below.

monthly birding challenge: December

Christmas Bird Counts

To many birders, December means one thing- Christmas Bird Counts!  These counts began in 1900 as a response to the traditional Side Hunt that took place the day after Christmas.  Instead of hunting birds, early conservationists went out and counted them!  The population data collected is used to support species conservation measures around the world.  Today’s counts are based on a 15 mile diameter circle.  Birders explore locations within the circle and compile a list of all the birds they can see and hear.  This month, we challenge you to participate in one of Delaware’s 6 Christmas Counts (see dates below).  Count the birds in your backyard, your favorite park, or another favorite birding location.  Be sure to let us know what exciting bird species and behaviors you observe while taking part in the longest running citizen science project on Earth!

Wilmington: December 19th

Bombay Hook: December 20th

Milford: December 26th

Middletown: December 27th

Rehoboth: January 2nd

Cape Henlopen/Prime Hook: January 3rd

More information can be found by clicking the button below.

monthly birding challenge: november

Woodpeckers

Except for Australia, New Zealand, and New Guinea, Woodpeckers are found around the world. In our area we can see 8 different types of Woodpeckers. You won’t see the Yellow-fronted Woodpecker in your yard as they are found in Mexico and Central America but they do have a few things in common with your Downy. The woodpeckers claw grip is known as zygodactyl, two facing forward and two facing backward and all woodpeckers use their tail as a third point for balancing as they hammer at trees. Which Woodpeckers have you seen in your backyard?