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If you are only going to dust off your binoculars for one birding hike this year, this is the time to do it. The first few weeks of May, migrants are passing through and many others are returning to breed wearing their full, technicolor regalia. The best part? The leaves are not out yet giving you a clear view (along with a case of warbler neck) of what is flitting around in the canopy. A perfect time to match the songs and calls you can hear with the birds that are making them.

Today, I was joined by a long-time birder (one of a group I fondly call the bird nerds), someone who with his great wit and sense of humor (if you can call it that) fostered my interest in birding. These few weeks in May, when there is so much to be seen and heard, it takes a little effort to remember the nuances: Is the song more melodious or mechanical? Eye ring or no? How many wing bars? What’s descript about a warbling vireo? Did you see that? Hear that? Where on earth is that song coming from?

For those reasons it is best to bird with a buddy. You can compare notes, share the guides and, most importantly, exercise and strengthen your identification skills. For me, especially during these first weeks of May, I appreciate the confirmation on a sighting of a bird I see maybe once a year. OK- it happens at other times of the year, too. If I see something that is unusual, I call the bird nerds. The help of peers is priceless.

Here’s my list for May 11, 2016[lightbox link=”” thumb=”×225.jpg” width=”300″ align=”right” title=”IMG_3750″ frame=”true” icon=”image” caption=”Louisiana Waterthrush”]

Canada Goose
Wood Duck
Hooded Merganser
Great Blue Heron
Turkey Vulture
Red-tailed Hawk
Solitary Sandpiper
Mourning Dove
Chimney Swift
Ruby-throated Hummingbird
Belted Kingfisher
Red-bellied Woodpecker
Downy Woodpecker
Least Flycatcher
Eastern Phoebe
Great Crested Flycatcher
Yellow-throated Vireo
Warbling Vireo
Red-eyed Vireo
Tree Swallow
Black-capped Chickadee
Tufted Titmouse
White-breasted Nuthatch
House Wren
Blue-gray Gnatcatcher
Eastern Bluebird
Hermit Thrush
Wood Thrush
American Robin
Gray Catbird
European Starling
Blue-winged Warbler
Northern Parula
Yellow Warbler
Pine Warbler
Black-and-white Warbler
American Redstart
Northern Waterthrush
Louisiana Waterthrush
Common Yellowthroat
Scarlet Tanager
Eastern Towhee
Chipping Sparrow
Song Sparrow
Northern Cardinal
Rose-breasted Grosbeak
Red-winged Blackbird
Common Grackle
Brown-headed Cowbird
Baltimore Oriole
American Goldfinch
House Sparrow

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