Bird Watching at the Salton Sea
Interesting Facts About Birds
Tips on Bird Watching
It's important to use a good pair of binoculars to view the many unique and subtle characteristics needed to identify the species of a particular bird. Many avid bird watchers carry a pencil and checklist containing the names of species recorded in a particular region. Most parks and refuges provide checklists specific to their area for free or a small fee.
If you're an amateur, it's most helpful to have a bird guide book handy during your bird watching expedition. Study the guide and the checklist prior to your bird watching session. Once you're familiar with the species recorded in the area and those which have occurrences during the season you are in the field, it will help make identification of a particular species much easier.
When looking at a bird, pay close attention to the following characteristics:
- wing and head markings
Always observe first and then refer to your identification book because the bird may not remain where it can be readily observed for a long period of time.
Fascinating Facts on Birds
- Neotropical migration probably began between 10 and 30 million years ago when a largely subtropical climate in North America was gradually replaced by a cooler and distinctly seasonal climate. Migrating birds use the stars and sounds from the earth below to find their way at night.
- As many as 2-5 billion birds fly south from the temperate zone each winter.
- Today, there are about 8,850 different species of birds in the world
- Many migrants spend 6 to 9 months in the tropics, only spending a short period of time in the temperate zone.
- Birds walk on their toes with their heels in the air.
- Routinely, North American migrants cross the 500 miles of the Gulf of Mexico without resting.
- Using energy at the rate of a hummingbird, a human would have to eat 340 pounds of potatoes every day to sustain his or herself.
- The Arctic tern, the champion "globe-trotter," flies 10,000 miles every spring and fall traveling between winter and summer grounds.
- Many species of song birds learn their own song from a parent or neighbor.
- A tundra wwan has about 25,200 feathers on its body, while the ruby-throated hummingbird has only 940.
- The golden plover flies 2,400 miles from North American breeding grounds to South American wintering grounds and arrives with only a two-ounce weight loss.
- Groups of birds have special names: a "cast" of hawks, a "flight" of doves, an "exaltation" of larks, and a "host" of sparrows.
By Lynn Bremner
Back to Part 1
Bird Watching at the Salton Sea NWR
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