Birding by ear
Mar 20, 2014 | 265 views | 0 0 comments | 5 5 recommendations | email to a friend | print
Contributed photo
Luke Lopez and Adam Chase, both residents of Karnes County, woke up early on spring break to learn more about birding.
Contributed photo Luke Lopez and Adam Chase, both residents of Karnes County, woke up early on spring break to learn more about birding.
Birding by ear – we all do it. Whether hearing the waking coo of the dove at daybreak or hearing the distant honking of the first goose arriving in fall, we know without looking which bird makes that familiar sound. Knowing the difference between the sounds of mourning dove, white winged dove, ground dove, and Inca dove or the difference between the sounds of the snow goose and Canada goose takes more effort.

A novice group of birders from Karnes County is making that effort, and last Saturday two of them went to the Mitchell Lake Audubon Center to further develop their listening skills. Students Luke Lopez and Adam Chase rose early in the morning to journey to the sunrise Birding By Ear Workshop led by The Bird Nerd, Audubon Center Director Jason St. Sauver. St. Sauver gave the group ten tips for birding by ear that were demonstrated on a hike through the Audubon Center later in the morning.

Luke and Adam learned more about listening for the bird species they already know like cardinals and mockingbirds, and they were able to hear some new bird species they had never seen before. For the first time they were introduced to the white crowned sparrow, the blue-grey gnatcatcher, the brown headed cow bird, the long billed thrasher, and the white eyed vireo. The students learned that it is just as important to know the sounds of familiar birds as it is to recognize when bird sounds are new and unfamiliar so they know when to seek out a new species.

Luke and Adam will be joined next month by teammates Matt and Gabe Gonzales to participate in the Great Texas Birding Classic. The group is led by Dr. Wade Phelps, who is himself, a novice birder. They hope to represent Karnes County well in the state wide competition in a category reserved for students up to age 13.

Karnes County birding enthusiasts Robert Homeyer and John Leleux have encouraged the group in their learning about local birds by visiting with the group and sharing their birding knowledge. The two expect to make a return to the Great Texas Birding Classic again this year with an adult team of birders. Hampered last year by uncertain weather, the group still managed to identify over 30 bird species in one morning from an indoor observation place. They hope to far exceed that number this year if the weather is favorable for them.

The Great Texas Birding Classic is a far ranging competition that includes bird observation statewide, allows an entire month for participation, and encourages citizens of all ages and abilities to be included by designating 10 different competition categories. Visit the Texas Parks and Wildlife Department’s website to see how to participate or how to sponsor teams in the Great Texas Birding Classic held from April 15 through May 15.

If you would like to lend your experience or share a local birding site with the student birding group, or if you would like to join in the fun of learning birding in Karnes County, please contact Dr. Wade Phelps in Kenedy at 583-9891.
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