So as well as being a gardener, my recent trip to Yellowstone brought back my love of birding that I had so much as a kid. I used to sit by sliding glass door that led out to the patio with the bird feeders back home and count chickadees, nuthatches and juncos in the snowy bittersweet vines. It can be a little difficult being an active birdwatcher while taking college courses and living in a house with nowhere to hang a birdfeeder.
But after seeing mountain bluebirds, harlequin ducks and all manner of stunning birds on the trip out west, my interest was peaked again.
eBird, a bird reporting website from Cornell University is my favorite birding tool because it compiles my "life list" of birds for me and I can add notes about where/when I saw them, age, sex, details about what they were doing, etc. It's a pretty neat tool if you're at all into birding. And they use the data to keep tabs on bird populations, so everyone benefits.
Yesterday I was over on the UMN East Bank campus, talking with a friend while she stood waiting for a bus. Out of the corner of my eye I saw a large bird swoop up into one of the ash trees outside of Folwell Hall and immediately got excited. It's not too often that I get a close look at a raptor that's stationary instead of soaring overhead.
Peeking up through the branches, I found my bird.
I'm not the best bird identifier out there so I knew it was a hawk, but not what kind. Going home, my internet search brought me to the conclusion that it was a Broad-Winged Hawk...only to be told to day by a kind passerby on Google+ (who had seen the picture I put up) that it was actually a juvenile Cooper's Hawk. Apparently there's a successful nest on campus with 5-6 young birds that have been flying around campus.
Bird Identification 1-Abby 0.
But that's what I like about birding. If you don't know what bird you saw, chances are there's a nice birder out there who will let you know what it was.