Birder's Journal: Learning to Let Birds Come to You

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To see what other birds were possible that day, we took a mid-morning foray into the rest of the park and found nine more birds, common species that had evaded our circle's radar. Of course, we could not include them in our official total.

We stopped after six hours at 12:30 p.m., with 55 species seen or heard from our beachside roost, two more than I had the day before on my customary rounds. Perhaps we could have broken 60 if we stayed all day, but we had no hope of surpassing Milford Point's 70 species, the Connecticut record at the time.

Although we fell short of the Big Sit champs, I never would have guessed that we could stay put and see 55 species at Sherwood Island in mid-October. I expected 30, 40 birds at most, but then again, I am a novice at sitting still outdoors. Rarely do I come to a dead halt for an hour or more. I pause to rest or admire a view, but in a minute I'm on my feet.

I like to walk when I go birding, but this is only one way to experience infinitely dynamic nature. When I meet a fisherman on one of my waterside rambles, he may mention birds I haven't seen. He hardly moves and sees a different world—nature's law of relativity. In the wild you can journey without using your feet.

Robert Winkler's book of essays on his adventures with birds of the "suburban wilderness" will be published in 2003 by National Geographic Books.

Recent Bird Stories by National Geographic News:
Do Some Birds Cheat to Avoid Inbreeding?
Birder's Journal: A Morning With Migrants
Water-Diversion Plan Threatens California's Salton Sea
500 Most Important Bird Areas in U.S. Named
Birder's Journal: This Warbler Is a Master of Deception
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Tagging Hobbles Penguins, Some Researchers in Cape Town Contend
Patagonia Penguins Make a Comeback
Penguin Decline in Antarctica Linked With Climate Change
Ice Buildup Hampers Penguin Breeding in Antarctica
Evolutionary Oddities: Duck Sex Organ, Lizard Tongue
Some Ducks Let Young Be Raised by Relatives
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Forecasting the Journey South

National Geographic Bird Resources:
Bald Eagles: Come Back From the Brink
Experience the Sights and Sounds of Eagles

Nationalgeographic.com Bird-Watching Sites:
Boston Area
Chicago Area
Florida Keys Area
Maine's Acadia National Park
Mount Rainier
New Orleans Area
New York City Area
North Carolina's Outer Banks
Philadelphia Area
Portland Area
Rocky Mountain National Park
Salt Lake City Area
San Francisco Area
Santa Fe Area
South Dakota's Black Hills
Utah
Washington's Olympic National Park
Wyoming's Grand Teton National Park
Yellowstone National Park
Yosemite National Park

From the National Geographic Store:
Guide to North American Birds
Portable Birdsong Identifier
Birder's Journal
Songbirds Puzzle

Additional Information from Related Web Sites:
American Bird Conservancy
Fish and Wildlife Service Bird Web Site
National Audubon Society
Environmental Protection Agency: Bird Conservation

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