Susan (Gets Native) insists that I am a birding jinx. (For video proof, click here.) I insist that we never see any birds because I can't get her out in the field before noon. Regardless whose fault it is, we do seem to come home from birding trips with pitifully short Trip Lists. We spent 3 hours birding yesterday and got less than 20 species.* Let me explain why we miss more birds than we see:
A) Any birding trip that involves Susan and I includes lots of laughing and talking. This is great fun, but makes it hard to find birds. Either we make so much noise that they fly away, or we don't notice the ones that are right in front of us. Or both.
B) We are easily distracted by other natural things around us - flowers, butterflies, dragonflies, frogs, cavities that might hold nesting birds, and, in Susan's case, dead stuff and dog poop. Yeah, she really stops to examine poop along the trail. Thankfully, she only picks up the dead bits with her bare hands, not the poop.
C) When birding during the Brood XIV cicada emergence, Susan pauses every five minutes to brush the bugs out of her hair or off of her clothes. I wear a big straw hat, primarily as a sun screen, which serves to ward off most cicadas, and try to catch them to throw on Susan. It's the Cicada Stomp, a popular Clermont County dance that occurs every 17 years.
Despite our jokes, we actually DO see birds, and hear them, too. Here's what we got yesterday:
1. Northern Cardinal
2. Chimney Swift
3. Mourning Dove
4. Red-bellied Woodpecker
5. Red-shouldered Hawk (heard only)
6. Field Sparrow
7. Indigo Bunting (Any trip that involves that much blue can't be bad)
8. Carolina Wren (heard only)
9. American Crow
10. Great-crested Flycatcher (my first confirmed of the year)
11. American Goldfinch
12. Northern Mockingbird
13. Pileated Woodpecker
14. House Finch
15. Eastern Phoebe
17. Chipping Sparrow (pair)
18. Downy Woodpecker
19. White-breasted Nuthatch (a whole family - mom, dad, and 2 kids)
Now, a 3 woodpecker day is a good day in my book, Indigos are always lucky, and the GCFL made my week. Plus, the last 5 species we got while birding by butt, sitting on the back deck of the Visitors' Center in the shade. How decadent is that? Finally, you could not believe the cuteness of the Chippies or the WBNU family - so sweet you could eat 'em on crackers, I think Susan would say.
Why no pictures? Because I focus on birding, using my bins more than my camera. Susan takes pictures - it's one reason why we're a good team. The Jinx Team is making plans to invade Cape May next fall. If you want to see birds there, maybe this isn't the year you should go. Just warning you.
[*Edit: I forgot Brown-headed Cowbirds. We did get 20 species after all. Neener, neener, neener!]