NEW WILMINGTON, Pa.- When you first hear the word Tweetspeak, we all think about the social media platform Twitter. The Westminster College Tweetspeak cluster course combines digital and social media with the biology of birds. The class outcome is designed to learn media essentials and blog posting with the learning species of birds.
My fellow Tweetspeak correspondent Danny Mercer and I are familiar with the digital world of social media. But when it comes to the unique world of Ornithology (the scientific study of birds) we have a lot to learn.
We begin this journey knowing the basic of some common birds. We quickly learned that we were incorrectly identifying a few birds for example “Canadian Geese” when it is correctly identified as “Canada Geese.” After a few days of lecture classes, we set out on our first day out in the field to get our chance birding. The day was a little chilly, wet, partly cloudy, temperature in the mid 50s, not bad for this time of year in western Pennsylvania in Febuary.
Our task for the day was to explore the Westminster College Field Station and get comfortable to birding. During this process, we learned a few other valuable lessons. For starters, we found out it is always colder than expected, so you should dress in layers and wear an extra layer or two. Secondly, we learned how important is to learn bird identification before you go our birding. There were numerous times where we heard a bird or saw a bird but still had no idea what it was. An example is when we saw a bird high up in a tree and were not able to identify it. After scrambling through our field guide, we identified that it had a red crown, white breast and black wings and a shorter bill meaning it was a Downy Woodpecker. Knowing what some of the common birds in our area looked or sounded like would of helped us tremendously, because knowing details such as plumage, color, or size of common birds help us able to quickly identify the bird species.
After an exciting day of getting off campus, spending time outdoors from the edges of the woods, the streams, and the swampy areas of the college woods. We were able to correctly identifying over seven different bird species, we defiantly took a lot way from this hands on experience. We understood we had to be more prepared physically and mentally. The physical preparation is dressing appropriate, and quickly having access to birding necessities such as binoculars, field guide and birding journal. Our mental preparation involves us learning more knowledge about identifying birds. With two weeks until our next outing, it leaves us time to prepare for our next birding adventure.
Keep up to date with our latest adventures a #tweetspeak
Contributed by Brad Kolesar and Danny Mercer