birding too early in the morning

June 19, 2017

So my biggest obstacle to better birding is the fact that I’m most definitely, decisively, not a morning person. Of course, the best time to see birds is in the couple of hours after dawn (you know, when all the birds are singing so loudly right outside your window).

Saturday I got it into my head I was going to get out to the Walden Ponds area at the crack of dawn. Didn’t quite make it, but I did get there at 7:30 am. (People who know me will be entirely amazed at this. I did it, guys! 7 freaking thirty!)

I sort of had this idea that if I got out early enough the birds would just swarm me, come right out of the trees and pose for me, making them easy to watch and ID. This did not happen. Like, at all. But, there were a lot more of them singing, and I bagged a few ID’s I don’t normally see at that spot:  lots of yellow warblers, a couple of cedar waxwings.

I did have two really great birding moments:

First, a whole flock of wood ducks. Half of them males in full plumage. Arguably one of the most beautiful birds in North America and they were all just right there.

Second: a western wood-pewee sitting on her nest. Her tiny little adorable cup-like nest, just comfy as she pleased, with papa bird sitting nearby. I would never have ID’d her without papa bird sitting there. I went home and checked the guide for the species, which describes their adorable cup-like nests. (I really like my new birding guide, because frequently it says exactly what I put in my field notes.)

Sometimes I get really frustrated, because I’ll spot a bird I can’t ID right away, and I make notes as best as I can — and then the guides fail me. The birding app fails me. They seem to contradict one another and my notes that I thought were so good aren’t good at all, because there are 15 species that size and shape that have a little bit of yellow on their bellies, and I forgot to write down the leg color, which turns out to be the decisive marking. I’m a terrible birdwatcher, I’m afraid.  I never thought I’d be able to ID this little gray thing on her tiny nest. But I googled “western wood pewee nest” and it’s right there, that’s just what she looked like. I’m calling it.

I bet if I go back in a couple weeks there’ll be little baby pewees sticking their heads up.

In other news, there is a bird called a wood pewee.




2 Responses to “birding too early in the morning”

  1. WanabePBWriter Says:

    On being a morning person:
    Please forgive me if this gets at all preachy… (As I am sure it will be a bit)

    At several points in my working life it has been required of me to be a morning person. For much of my life I have considered myself to be a night owl, over the last three years I have forced myself to a bed time and have found that being a night owl or the dreaded morning person is a matter of habit and consistency.

    Back in the days before we had doors, roofs, blinds, insulation/sound proofing there was no such thing as “I’m not a morning person.” The birds and the light took care of waking us. Staying up late meant trouble or at least guard duty (watching out for bears and such), unless you were “Moon Watcher”

    There is likely some small percentage of our species; in like everything else that are hard wired for nocturnal behavior. For most of us however it’s a matter of habit.

    Monday through Friday I go to bed at 9:30 lights out at ten (usually before) up at 5:30, on the weekends the times may vary by an hour or so or not. (Comcast on Demand and DVR has made this much easier to stick with.) I have been doing this for about three years now and it has made a great difference in my sleep quality and general wellbeing. I think it also helps with effects of jetlag.

    So if you are a confirmed night owl feel free to ignore all of this, if however you would like to try being that dreaded morning person give this a dedicated two week or so try.

  2. carriev Says:

    I don’t particularly want to be a morning person at all, I just have hobbies that require being awake early a few days a year.

    When I first started working at home, I dutifully set my alarm clock early because everything I’d read about working at home said to treat it like a real job, set the alarm, etc. And every single morning I’d hit snooze and stay in bed until 8:30, and feel guilty about it. So every morning I’d be jolted awake, get angry, hit snooze, go back to sleep, and feel bad about myself all day. Then I realized — why am I doing this? Who is making me do this? So I stopped setting the alarm.

    And I wake up between 8 and 8:30, every time. Only without the angry-making alarm jolt and guilt. I am pleasantest and happiest when I go to bed around midnight and wake up at 8 or 8:30. This is what working at home and being able to set my own schedule has taught me. I’m not going to fight that.

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