Personal Experience – The Best Source for Finding Uncommon Birds in Your Area

It’s time to wrap up writing about sources for finding uncommon birds and get to writing about finding specific species. Birds like the nemesis Winter Wren or the hard-to-find, but very satisfying when found, Long-eared Owl.

I inched up to a Long-eared Owl through thickets and got a picture through the trees. LaSalle County, IL 2011
I slowly bushwhacked through thickets to a Long-eared Owl and for a picture through the limbs.
LaSalle County, IL 2011

Or Sedge Wren’s or Cliff Swallows. Or the I can’t believe there has only been one unconfirmed sighting of Eurasian Collared-Dove in Johnson County. Every little town in Illinois with a grain elevator has them.  Why not Indiana?  That is a topic for another post.

Eurasian Collared-Dove Grand Ridge, IL 02/27/11
Eurasian Collared-Dove
Grand Ridge, IL 02/27/11

But I have got off topic.

The best source to finding birds in your local area is by first experiencing these birds in other areas. Maybe through an Audubon field trip to an area not so far away. By going on just a few of these field trips you’ll pick up on all the varied habitats and what species frequent these areas.  You can then bring that knowledge back to your area and find these uncommon birds.

When I first started I went with the Starved Rock Audubon Society on field trips . By going on as many of these local walks and by asking a question or hundred, I found out where most of the local birds where located. I then started using that information to search for other habitat in my local area that might hold uncommon birds. The repeated learning and searching paid off on our local spring and Christmas Bird Counts. I knew where different species would be.

And that experience started to lead to things that weren’t in the literature. We have all read that a Great Horned Owl inhabits at night the same area a Red-tailed Hawk does during the day. And the same coexistence between Short-eared Owls and Northern Harriers. But then I started seeing the same type of relationship between summer and winter birds.

Back to our friend, the Winter Wren. Something I have never read, but I’m sure is written somewhere, is that the Winter Wren inhabits in winter the same area that Louisiana Waterthrushes inhabit in summer. If you know a good Louisiana Waterthrush area, odds are there will be a Winter Wren there in winter. And there are many other seasonal relationships like these that personal experience will teach you.

So one more post to tie up finding uncommon birds and then on to writing about finding specific species.

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