Covering Our Campus & Our Community

A password will be e-mailed to you.
Screen Shot 2016-03-11 at 3.08.17 PM
DCNR’s Becky Lubold

SLIPPERY ROCK, Pa.– Our first adventure to the Jennings Environmental Education Center near Slippery Rock revealed a subtle, but important lesson for beginner birders. By learning to identify the trees, you will advance your skills at identifying the birds.  It was a message made clear by Jennings Environmental Education Specialist Becky Lubold and Kathie Goodblood from the Bartramian Audubon Society.

 

Screen Shot 2016-03-11 at 3.07.19 PM

Auduobon Society’s Kathie Goodblood

The the first part of the day started with a birding experience while staying inside the education building at the state park.  We were observing nature from the comfort of the indoors.

The the first part of the day started with a birding experience while staying inside the education building at the state park.  We were observing nature from the comfort of the indoors.

We watched feeders positioned outside the center’s large windows.  We observed the skittish movements of the American Goldfinch, the nimbleness of the White-breasted Nuthatch, the hyperactivity of the cheery Black-capped Chickadee,and the boldness of the Tufted Titmouse.  We also saw plenty of woodpeckers- the Hairy, Downy and Red-bellied.

As Lubold and Goodblood guided our troop of novice birders, they both suggested the importance of learning to identify trees as part of the ritual for observing birds.

It’s obvious, but easily overlooked by a beginner like myself.  Understanding what trees make up a habitat will help me know what types of birds populate that space.  The ability to know about the types of trees used by certain species is a great tool in my search for a variety of birds in any given ecosystem.

I quickly discovered how tree knowledge is a basic skill of the savvy birder. We always have our field guide handy, The Sibley Field Guide to Birds of Eastern North America.  Perhaps we should consider a tree guide.  Sibley has one of those as well,  The Sibley Guide to TreesBirdfreak.com supports the notion of adding the text as a resource for any budding naturalist.  It’s complete with detailed illustrations, descriptions and examples, just like Sibley’s bird guidebooks.

Screen Shot 2016-03-11 at 3.09.10 PMOne species we did not see at Jennings was the Northern Cardinal.  Despite well stocked bird feeders with sunflower seeds, the habitat outside the park building lacked any dense undergrowth or evergreen trees.  Goodblood explained you’ll often see cardinals in trees like the Eastern Hemlock and the Eastern White Pine.  They also frequent dense bushes, or patches of thickets where they can hide and escape from predators.  The bushes the Northern Cardinal frequents are also plants that produce berries or seeds.  It’s a perfect spot as it provides nourishment and shelter for this year-round, native species.

It would seem knowing about the trees is just the beginning in this broader education mission connected to birding.  Having experience in identifying and understanding the plants in an ecosystem is an advanced skill for birders to cultivate.  While Sibley does not have a field guide to plants, there are plenty of credible publications available to take you in that direction.

 

Pin It on Pinterest

Share This