Do you notice birds? 

A person can notice birds sometimes and not notice birds all the time. Every now and then I find myself trying to remember that period of my life before I started noticing birds all the time. Noticing birds sometimes is not necessarily a slippery slope to noticing birds all the time, but for me, all it took to make that jump was one winter where I began learning the different species of birds found locally.

Learning a new bird can be tricky at first. However, once you have learned its image, chirps and calls, like magic, you begin noticing it everywhere.

If the magic of noticing birds and all their beauty isn’t enough, I would like to share a few reasons why you should consider learning a few new species of birds this fall and winter season.

First, there are many species of birds.

Birds are one of the most diverse groups of animals. At least 400 species of birds may be seen in Virginia and arguably you can experience most of this diversity without ever leaving the Rappahannock River Watershed. 

Second, fall and winter are perfect.

Possibly the greatest challenge to learning new birds is that you need to see the bird long enough to take in what it looks like. With fewer leaves on the trees and a lack of biting insects to distract you, keeping your eyes on a bird becomes much easier. 

Birds need you to notice them.

Many species of birds face too many obstacles which are threatening their survival. A report was published in the academic journal Science in 2019. The report details the causes of decline (habitat loss, window strikes, pesticide overuse, to name a few). This report also described 7 Ways We Can Help

FOR can help you with a couple of those steps, starting with “watching birds and reporting what you see”. When you and I report the birds we see, it provides valuable information to scientists about how birds are doing all over the world. Certain times of the year scientists need help with particular projects, like Project Feederwatch, Nestwatch, and Hawkwatch.

There are also two “Global Big Days of Birding” held in October and May to aid researchers in getting a snapshot of bird movement during peak migration. Join us this Saturday, Oct. 9th for the Fall Global Day of Birding! 

FOR invites you to join us for birdwatching and community science programs in the Upper Rappahannock this fall and winter. Visit our Events Page to learn more about birding opportunities.

You may only notice birds sometimes and you may grow to notice birds all the time, but I hope we help birds enough that we do not risk ever having the chance to notice them at all. 


Blog post written by April Harper, Upper Rappahannock Education Manager

Friends of the Rappahannock would like to say a special thank you to the Patricia and Nicolas Kortlandt Memorial Grant for funding citizen science in your community and to the Wild Birds Unlimited of Gainesville for offering space and resources for families to learn and help birds together. 


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