Birds of SGG
by Pat Pepper
Just as the plant world dazzles our eyes with incredible blooming beauty in spring, so does the bird world. Spring means spring migration, and it is starting right now. The avian males are all decked out in their spring finery, and the neotropic migrants that are only passing through Georgia on their way north will give us a chance to view them in all their spring glory.
These migrants do present a challenge to us, however, when it comes to identifying them. Since we only get about six or seven weeks to try to see these migrants, it may be difficult to find out what bird we have seen. You might be able to get a picture of some of them, like the Rose-breasted Grosbeak, because they will sit at your feeder long enough to be photographed. I always see a few of them at the SGG feeders every spring.
If you get a picture, then you can show it to someone who has some birding experience and hope he or she can ID it for you.
Many birds, however, like the colorful warblers, forage high up in trees and are very hyperactive. Photographing them is quite difficult. So, what’s a novice birder to do? You can buy bird guides that organize birds according to color. They are helpful, and that is what I used in the pre-personal computer days.
Luckily, we are living in a wondrous digital age. The Cornell Lab of Ornithology has produced an extremely helpful new computer app for IDing birds. It is called Merlin after the small falcon named Merlin.
The Merlin App is free and can be downloaded very quickly to an iPhone, iPad, or Android.
If you see a bird that you can’t identify, you can use the Merlin App to help you. The App will ask you to enter the location where you saw the bird, the date you saw it, then click on a bird silhouette closest to the size of your bird, click on all the colors you saw on the bird, then click where the bird was, such as your feeder, in a tree or bush, or wherever. Submit this info and Merlin will show you pictures of birds in your area that match the information you submitted.
A few weeks ago I was birding in Southern Arizona. It was dusk, so the lighting was poor. From my car, I saw a small flock of birds by the side of the gravel road. I could not ID them. I was not totally familiar with what species could be in Sasabee, AZ, in Feb. that looked like what I saw. I used my Merlin App and found my bird. They were American Pipits.
Here is a link that will show you how Merlin works:
It is quite simple to use. I hope you will consider downloading it to your smartphone, if you have one, so that you will have a bird ID source handy whenever you need it.
If you do download and use it, I would love your feedback on how it worked for you. Please e-mail me at the address below:
Pat Pepper mailto:firstname.lastname@example.org