Every morning upon entering the kitchen, I glance up to see how my family of robins are doing. But alas, I then remember that all four babies have successfully fledged. I miss them and suffer from empty nest syndrome. Watching their story unfold outside my window was a gift from Mother Nature.
I certainly learned a good deal about robin nesting habits. I wondered if the male helped feed the babies. Indeed he does, often bringing tasty squiggly worms to his offspring.
One of them was often on guard duty while his or her mate was looking for food. The day the little heads began popping up above the top of the nest was a real treat. There were four, and daily I would count to make sure every one had survived the night.
Finally, it was time for them to leave my deck. This last one took his time building up courage to fly. I think Mama or Papa nudged him along because I heard a slight kerfuffle and then he was gone.
I am not a knowledgeable bird watcher like my cousin Joyce, who I swear talks “bird” to the warblers and sparrows she sees on her walks. But I find great joy, like many folks, in searching out new species to photograph and learn about when I travel.
One BIG hint: In order to capture some great images of birds with your iPhone/iPad–use the Burst feature. That’s when you hold your finger on the shutter and it goes click, click, click, click, click. Just remember to go in and look at all of the images and delete the ones that you do not want. It’s very easy to take up a lot of storage space with Burst photos.
The other thing to remember: Move the yellow focus box to the part of the image you want to be the sharpest. Watch the video below to review how to control focus and exposure.
Naturally, I watch many of the bird videos that appear on my Facebook news feed. Have you seen this video of a gentleman in Europe who has a family of nesting owls in his third floor apartment planter? It’s precious.
My bird identification skills are minuscule so I rely on bird ID apps on my iPhone and iPad. A multitude of apps exist, just go to the App Store to see them all! Be sure to check the ratings and reviews before settling on one or two. You might even do a Google search, “best FREE bird identification apps.”
My favorite app comes from the folks at the Cornell Lab of Ornithology. It’s simply called Merlin Bird ID. This app leads the user through a series of questions to help determine what bird is being identified.
Third–where did you see it?
Finally, the app provides some possible identifications.
Please notice the sound icon to the left of the green “This is My Bird” button. Tap the sound icon and you will here the song of that species.
Don’t I wish I could identify birds by their songs! Well, naturally there are apps for that in your app store. Some include…
- Song Sleuth
Needless to say, YouTube has a quantity of videos related to bird songs. Here’s one that I am going to start with since I am at the beginner’s level, 15 Birds and Bird Songs for Beginners.
Birds and Bloom Website
Facebook groups are another great source of information to mine. I belong to Snowy Owls and Other Owls. The postings are from folks all over the US and Canada and are helping me learn about owls. Just type in the bird type that fascinates you in the Facebook Search window and, no doubt, several groups will pop up.
The wonderful thing about bird watching is that no matter where you live in the world, there are wonderful birds to capture with your iPhone’s camera. One doesn’t have to travel to see colorful and unique species. Of course, once you become hooked, it’s off to the races to see how many birds you can add to your Life List. When you are up to a really big adventure, you might try the Big Year challenge.
Enjoy these fleeting summer days with a good tramp through the woods or your neighborhood and be on the look out for birds you never noticed before. The fun doesn’t end in the fall because there are gorgeous winter birds to spy come the depths of January.
One last image I have to share. I love to watch penguins and despite the fact that it gets cold here in Maine, there are no species in my neighborhood. However, when I visited South Africa and got down almost to the Cape of Good Hope, I did see a huge colony of African penguins during their nesting season. They are adorable, especially the fuzzy babies.
You might also enjoy reading our three part series on Winter Birding in New England:
Update—June 20, 2020: Ma and Pa Robin returned to the nest today, both individually and together. They appeared to be checking it out. Perhaps a second round of babies?
Update—June 21, 2020: No sign of the robins. I guess they have found other lodgings.