On April 8th, 2010, I (Birdfreak) gave a presentation for the North Central Illinois Ornithological Society (NCIOS); the Rockford, Illinois bird club. The presentation, Tools for Enhancing Your Birding Experience, was designed to provide information about field guides, learning bird sounds and using sound devices, a demonstration on digiscoping, and an overview of some of the excellent websites available to learn more about birds. I’ve included a PDF download of this list at the end of this article so check it out!
There were about 30 people in attendance including some new faces and it was also the first meeting Stacia attended. (Her presence helped greatly as I get pretty nervous about speaking in front of groups.)
I showed off a whole slew of field guides including many of the ones we compared in our Guide to Birding Field Guides.
In addition to these I displayed Pete Dunne’s Essential Field Guide Companion: A Comprehensive Resource for Identifying North American Birds, Peterson Reference Guides: Gulls of the Americas, The Shorebird Guide, and Shorebirds of North America, Europe, and Asia: A Photographic Guide plus others. The goal was to let birders of all skill levels get their hands on some of my huge library of birding and nature books.
There is so much amazing information about birds in print that it still is my preferred learning tool over the portable gadgets and the internet.
Learning Bird Sounds
Of course, I also love using gadgets so I discussed BirdJam and using sound playback in the field. Plus, I gave my patent-pending “superpish” as well as my quite-convincing Eastern Screech-Owl plus Northern Saw-Whet Owl (not as convincing).
I also introduced a couple of cool books (which I’ll be reviewing soon) by Donald Kroodsma that are amazing for learning about birdsong:
- Birdsong by the Seasons: A Year of Listening to Birds
- The Singing Life of Birds: The Art and Science of Listening to Birdsong
Lastly, I gave a full demonstration on how to digiscope with both the digital camera adapter (DCA) and universal camera adapter (UCA) from Swarovski. A couple members brought in their cameras to see how they could use the UCA with them.
Digiscoping still seems to be a bit of a new and confusing way to take photos (for some) but I think most birders are getting interested in the idea, especially since you can use a simple camera and get some pretty cool, long-distance shots. We discussed how the cost is a bit prohibitive but since most birders desire a good spotting scope, over time they can get a pretty cool setup.
The presentation went really well and it was fun to show some of the cool stuff we’ve acquired through running this blog. I’m not the most eloquent speaker but it’s nice to jump out of the comfort zone and give a talk on how awesome birding is!
The handout I gave out is a double-sided list of various helpful websites (geared towards my discussion and Illinois birding). Download: Internet Birding Resources [PDF, 76KB]