October 27, 2011

Notes from the NEEEA Conference 2011

Demystifying the Process of Bird Watching: Observe, Identify, Recognize
Saturday October 22, 2011
4:45 - 6:15pm
Session: D2
Instructor: Alexander Dunn

How do advanced bird watchers identify a tiny warbler in just a flash? In this workshop we will explore how advanced birders use the eye-brain connection to make snap judgments and discuss how educators can utilize close observation and field notes to develop bird identification skills at any age.

The three myths:

1. Good bird watchers have supervision

Myth one debunked: Bird watchers don’t have supervision, instead they use repetitive observations and identifications to build a subconscious data pool that allows them to “thin-slice” a bird and make an identification. 

Learning tool – getting to identification begins with good observation. Teaching fast, field observation with “warbler bingo”.

2. Bird identification is made by observing every feather

Myth two debunked: Bird watchers examine every feather on a bird to make an identification. – wrong. Bird watchers use a myriad of observations including song, niche habitat, season, flight pattern, and attitude to make an identification.

Learning tool – have students utilize GISS, ecological observation, and bird song.

3. The maps in bird books show when a bird is most common in the area

Myth three debunked: The maps in bird books tell a small slice of a much larger story. When we see birds we are witnessing a moment of a complex life. Breeding, migrating, wintering these are elements that can be broken down into individual strands of learning.

Learning tools – Migration game, monitoring, citizen science, plotting data, scale migration distances of a Bobolink, Red-wing blackbird, and personal commute.

The Cornell Lab of Ornithology - The first place to start!
Environment for the Americas - International Migratory bird Day resources
Celebrate Urban Birds - projects for your school or community
Alvaro Jaramillo - a good birder to know
Audio monitoring - how to build and analyze night flight calls 
Breeding Bird Atlas - citizen science data on breeding birds in the numerous states
Bird Education Network - additional resources 
E-bird Animated Occurrence Maps - citizen science data that illustrates migration and season movement
Voice of Audubon - Mass Audubon's bird sightings
My upcoming walks


blink by Malcolm Gladwell

Pete Dunne's Essential Field Guide Companion: A Comprehensive Resource for Identifying North American Birds by Pete Dunne

The Field Guide to Wildlife Habitats of the Eastern United States by Janine M. Beny

For questions or to receive the full PowerPoint please email me at: alexanderjosephdunn@gmail.com