Friday, May 1, 2020

Birding in Socially Distant Times

American OspreyFrom the Lake Placid Land Conservancy:
Have you ever stepped outside and wondered what bird just flew by or is chirping at you from a tree overhead? Perhaps you’re looking for a new way to spend more time outside or a fun activity to do while social distancing? Birding is a perfect activity to do while hiking locally and spring is an especially wonderful time to start!

Bird activity is on the rise in April and May, as many species migrate to their summer habitats either in the Adirondacks or to points north. In our neck of the woods, we excitedly anticipate seeing the silhouette of common loons on the chilly lakes. The loons are noisily welcomed by the distinctive calls of Red-winged Blackbirds and osprey along with the lovely, melodic songs of Lincoln’s Sparrows, Palm Warblers, and Ruby-crowned Kinglets, to name a few.

Birding may seem daunting, but it easily begins with stepping into your yard or going for a walk and taking in the world around you. Stop, look, and listen. Take notes – where did you see the bird (on water? by the forest?), when did you see the bird (time of day and date), what was it doing, was it alone or with a flock, and what did its call sound like? Sketch what you see, and take a picture if you are lucky enough to snap one before the bird flies away. Binoculars are a great tool to use if you have them.

After your outdoor trek, it’s time to do some research. Using your notes and photos, try and figure out what bird you saw – we love using the free Merlin Bird ID app for this step combined with a trusty field guide. Can’t figure out what you saw? Explore the iNaturalist app and post the photo you snapped to get suggestions from other birders around the region. Or reach out to us, and we’ll do our best to help! Once you’ve ID’d your bird, spend some time learning more about it and listening to its calls so you can identify it in the field in the future. Most importantly, don’t get discouraged. Over time, you’ll get to know your local birds well.

— Written by Carolyn Koestner, Lake Placid Land Conservancy’s Strategic Conservation Planner and GIS professional. PS: If you decide to start birding during this time, please let us know! We’d love to hear from you on Facebook, Instagram, Twitter (an appropriate platform for this activity!), or send us an email at

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The Adirondack Almanack publishes occasional guest essays from Adirondack residents, visitors, and those with an interest in the Adirondack Park. Submissions should be directed to Almanack editor Melissa Hart at


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