I’ve made a few new friends here on the ranch. The birds that frequent Cottonwood Pond have become very familiar with me. The Western Kingbird is ever present – perching on Mesquite branches surrounding the pond and occasionally on the shrubby vegetation along the shore. I love watching them take off and hover in the air – catching insects, I presume – and then, returning to perch.
I’ve been trying to learn more bird songs and calls as well as identifying my feathered friends by their markings. I feel challenged but it’s so rewarding! I have a mobile app supported by the National Audubon Society that I use as a reference and it has been very helpful in conjunction with a Southwestern guide book. The mobile app has bird calls and songs that I can listen to while in the field. So much fun!
The National Audubon Society has a nice, short list of key attributes to pay attention to when trying to identify an unfamiliar bird. (And, many are unfamiliar to me unless it’s the obvious Robin, Bluebird, Cardinal, etc!! You get the point!)
The Cornell Lab also has a short guide on how to start building your skills as a birder. They list 4 key areas to focus on for visual identification with links from each to a detailed discussion of the skill. They also offer online courses.
Some other birds I commonly see at the Cottonwood Pond include: Red-winged Blackbirds, Wilson’s Warbler, Vermillion Flycatcher, Northern Rough-winged Swallow, Western Meadowlark, Chipping Sparrow, Great Egret, Phainopepla, and Red-tailed Hawks. Of course, ravens are also abundant.