Birding 101 at South Fork Nature Center

Trish Childers

On September 17th Docent Dan Smith gave a PowerPoint presentation on the fundamentals of bird watching, or birding as it’s commonly called. He also mentioned that a more advanced birding class is in the works, so stay tuned. Smith shared pictures of some of the most common Arkansas birds and talked about their songs, color recognition and other identification markers. Did you know that the fastest and easiest way to identify a bird is by the shape of its beak?

Smith also shared several reference books and the group was given the “Arkansas Backyard Birds” guidebook to start them on their birding experience. He also shared how to use and adjust binoculars for best results.

The weather was perfect for the docent tour, with only a few clouds in the sky and a light breeze. The gravel paths were dry, in spite of all the rain a few days before. The group took full advantage of the many benches along the trail to sit, listen and capture the image of a bird in flight.

In just about an hour the group was able to identify the following birds either by sight or sound: Common Crow, Kingfisher, Red-shouldered Hawk, Bald Eagle, Black Vulture, Turkey Vulture, Great Blue Heron, Chickadee, Pine Warbler, Pileated Woodpecker, Red-bellied Woodpecker, Blue Jay, Tufted Titmouse, Downy Woodpecker and Cooper’s Hawk. Several large nests were also spotted along the trail, but no one appeared to be home.

Docent Bob Hartmann was also along for the walk and helped answer questions that were raised about specific plants along the trail from several of the first-time guests.

South Fork has an ever-changing landscape; so mark your calendars for the next event – October 15th.