Sep 032010
 

Birds are one of the most magnificent living things. They are probably among the best loved animals in the world. We are captivated by their colorful form, intelligent actions and cheeky mannerisms. In the United States there are about 550,000 members of the National Audubon Society of America. The U.K. has over 1,000,000 members. Members are dedicated to protecting birds and they do bird watching to monitor them.

There are about 10,000 living species of birds. 2,000 species have been seen in North America (from Panama north and including the Caribbean), 925 in the United States and Canada, 3200 in South America, 2,300 in Africa, 1,000 in Europe, 2,900 in Asia, 1,700 in Australia and 65 in Antarctica.

The contenders for the most common bird in the world are: the Red-billed Quelea, Red Junglefowl (domestic chicken) and the European House Sparrow.

It is difficult to say which bird is the rarest. A couple of examples are the the Sudanese Red Sea Cliff Swallow (Hirundo perdita) seen once in 1984 and the Orange-necked Partridge (Arborophila davidi) seen once in 1927. Other birds are known or believed to be extinct in the wild but still have representatives living in captivity. One is the Spix’s Macaw (Cyanopsitta spiscii) hunted to the brink of extinction to satisfy the foolish demands of the pet trade.

Unfortunately, there are about 115 species of birds that are known to be extinct. The reason for extinction is mainly human interference. There are efforts to make up for the mistakes done in the past.

California Condor

At one time there were only 4 wild Mauritius Kestrels. But, thanks to human effort, its numbers are back around 300. Another example is the California Condor, during 1987 there was only one male left in the wild and 27 condors were in captivity. As of August, 2010, there are 384 condors known to be living, including 188 in the wild (Wikipedia).

The largest bird can be measured in three possible ways-weight, height and length of wingspan. Unfortunately, all of the record holders for these three categories are already extinct. The heaviest bird was the Dromornis stirtoni from Australia. This flightless giant lived millions of years ago and probably stood nearly 10ft/3m tall and weighed in at a massive 1100lb/500kg. The tallest bird ever, as far as we know, was the Dinornus maximus, a Giant Moa from New Zealand. And the bird with the longest wingspan was the The Giant Teratorn Argentavis magnificens) which had a wingspan between 19.5ft/6M and 25ft/7.5m and was in the United States.

The largest living bird is the Ostrich. In Africa, the Kori Bustard, is the heaviest flying bird weighing in around 42 lb (19kg). Meanwhile, the smallest bird is the Bee Hummingbird from Cuba.

We learn so much from birds. Bird watching is more than just watching birds. It is observing and learning from them in nature.

Aug 312010
 

You do not have to go far to enjoy and learn about birds and bird watching. Your own backyard can serve as a fun place where new bird watchers can start learning the basics about birds.

To construct the best birdwatching area in your backyard, you can make use of different bird feeders filled with a variety of seeds. Different styles of feeders and seeds will attract different birds to your yard.

Experiment with the various seeds in the bird feeders to attract the specific birds that you want to see in your backyard. Your geographic location is one of the main factors that will determine the birds that will visit your feeder.

Some of the more common types of bird feed are black oil sunflower seeds, cracked corn, striped sunflower seeds, nectar, safflower seeds, millet and thistle. You will learn what seed attracts which birds to the different feeders that are placed around your backyard.

Get to know how far away feeders need to be from each other. Birds like to have a safe landing area away from their predators. Place feeders close to trees, bushes or shrubs. It is important to keep feeders away from noisy streets or any other noisy areas that could spook the birds.

Backyard Bird Feeder

Increasing the number of plants in your backyard will almost guarantee that more birds will be visiting your bird feeders. You can even try to create a layered garden to provide richness and diversity in your garden. You can add layers by planting clusters of shade loving small trees, shrubs and ground cover under taller trees. The birds will love the plants and your backyard will be transformed into a beautiful natural woodland.

Now it’s time to sit back, observe and study your backyard bird habitat. Make sure you have a clear view of all the feeders. A basic pair of binoculars is needed to catch a close-up look of all the birds. These optical devices will greatly increase your ability to identify birds by their distinct markings and behavior. It will not take long until you become very familiar with many of the birds that will be coming to the feeders.

As you become more involved in bird watching, a spotting scope can provide you with a closer look at your new feathered friends.

There is nothing better than watching colorful birds fly around a native and natural garden that almost looks like the bird’s natural habitat.

Aug 262010
 

Bird watching (birdwatching), also known as birding, is the observation and study of birds with the naked eye or with the use of bird watching binoculars. Birding includes an auditory component, since birds can be easily and readily identified using the ear rather than the eye. Most people follow birdwatching as a hobby.

Birdwatching can be traced back to the Victorian Era, in Britain, when the study of birds and natural history became fashionable. Collectors would gather eggs, skins and feathers from different colonies. In the 1800s, there was a call to protect birds. This led to the observation and study of birds.

Meanwhile in the United States, as early as 1889, there was already a field guide written by Florence Bailey entitled “Birds Through an Opera Glass”. At that time the focus of bird watching in the United States was mainly in the eastern seaboard region.

Now there are not only local birdwatching guides but also global guides for identifying birds. The availability of air travel enables hobbyists and serious birdwatchers to travel to different places and observe wild birds in their natural habitat.

Birding includes taking precise notes of different details that distinguish one species from the others. Mastering the skills of identifying characteristics of birds will help you determine which birds you are observing. A serious birdwatcher may sit for hours, frequently crouched and hidden from view, in the hopes of spotting a rare or beautiful bird.

Birdwatching is the fastest growing outdoor activity in America. According to a survey by the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service, 51.3 million Americans report that they watch birds. More are taking it up all the time.

So, why are more and more people taking an interest in this activity?

Historically, birds are considered bringers of omens. Ancient Romans believed that the flights and call of birds could foretell the future. Nowadays, modern science uses birds to help predict the future. By noting changes in bird populations it can reflect on the health of the environment.

Most people start birding for simple reasons, like having fun or creating a connection with the wonders of nature. Birding is beneficial for your health because birdwatching gets you outside and walking. Birdwatching is a relaxing sport. Your mind settles when you are out in nature and with birds. The senses open up, you may even find that you enjoy going out alone.

Birdwatching is a great family activity. It unites people across generations. By taking up this activity parents, grandparents and children can all be involved. Some people go birdwatching for social reasons. Nearly every community has a birding club.

There are local bird clubs or magazines devoted to birdwatching that can help you get started. A bird book or a field guide will help you learn more about identifying birds. A field guide provides information, pictures and descriptions of the birds. There are now applications for your smart phone that will help you to identify birds. Birdwatching basics are also available on DVDs or videos.

Now you are ready to go outside and enjoy the birds!

Jun 052010
 

Which binoculars will perform well for bird watchers and outdoor enthusiasts?  Should you buy binoculars that are fog-proof, weatherproof, rainproof, climate-proof, rustproof, spray-proof or waterproof?  Here is what you need to know when investing in a good pair of binoculars.

Bird watchers encounter all types of weather conditions.  It would be sad to miss that rare bird sighting because your binoculars have fogged-up or moisture has collected in them.  The proper sealing of binoculars is one of the most important features of good optics. There are no industry wide standards for the sealing process.  Many manufacturers boast fog-proof, weatherproof, rainproof, climate-proof, rustproof, spray-proof, waterproof and many other “certain-proofs”.  Some of these words are just alerting the consumer that there was an attempt to seal the binoculars against harsh weather conditions.

Waterproof binoculars are nitrogen gas purged and use O-rings to seal the optics.  They protect from rain, leakage and fogging. The waterproofing offers better optics in all weather conditions.  Waterproof binoculars ensure clear views in mornings’ heavy dew and during times of elevated humidity.  Waterproof binoculars allow you to enjoy events without worrying about the effects of harsh weather conditions.  The waterproofing even keeps dust and dirt out.  Dirt building up over time in your binoculars will obscure the view.

Buy binoculars that are waterproof!  Waterproof means the following two things about the optics.

* Additional protection and maximum measures were taken by the company to seal the binoculars.
* If the seal of a waterproof binocular fails, the warranty by most companies will cover resealing the binoculars.

There are a few basic precautions that bird watchers and outdoor enthusiasts need to take to ensure that the optic seal is not damaged.

* Buy a waterproof binocular that is easy to grip and feels comfortable in your hands.  This eliminates them slipping and dropping out of your hands which may loosen the seals.
* Always carry and use lens caps and rain guards to protect your binoculars in damp or dusty conditions.
* Get a comfortable and secure binocular harness.  A good binocular harness will keep the binoculars close to your body and prevent them from bouncing and banging into things.  This jarring could also loosen and effect the binocular seals.
* Be careful where you store your binoculars.  When not in use place them in a durable and waterproof case.
* Never leave your binoculars in the car or any other place that has extreme temperature swings.  These conditions will put a high amount of stress on the gaskets and seals in your binoculars.

For any birder or outdoor enthusiast waterproof binoculars is a must, even if rarely used in bad weather.

There are many good waterproof binoculars on the market.  The waterproof binoculars that I recommend are the Nikon 7294 Monarch 5 or the 7430 Monarch 8×42 waterproof ATB binoculars.  These binoculars are waterproof and “if” anything should happen to them the Nikon warranty is superb.  The warranty states: “Nikon is dedicated to quality, performance and total customer satisfaction. If your Nikon Binocular, Spotting Scope or Fieldscope requires service or repair not covered by our 25-Year Limited Warranty, Nikon will repair or replace it (even if it was your fault) for just $10, plus return shipping and handling.”

Other posts you may find helpful are: The Nikon 7294 Monarch III Waterproof Binocular Review and Nikon 7430 Monarch 8×42 ATB Binoculars

 


Apr 032010
 

Which binoculars should you choose for bird watching?  Well, let’s put the new Nikon 7294 Monarch III 8×42 binoculars up against the Nikon 7430 Monarch 8×42 All-Terrain binoculars.

The Nikon 7294 Monarch III 8×42 binoculars and the Nikon 7430 Monarch 8×42 All-Terrain binoculars are similar in many ways.  They are both a roof prism binocular.  The specs for lineal field of view of 330 ft./1000yds. and angular field of 6.3 are identical for the 7294 and the 7430.  Both have the exact eye relief (19.6 mm) and exit pupil (5.25mm) as well as eye cups with the multi-setting click stops.   They are alike in their close focus distance of 8.2 ft. and relative brightness of 28.1.  These lightweight binoculars are equal in their weight (21.5 oz.) and size (5.7 x 5.0 in.).

So, what is the difference?  The major difference is the coating on the prism and lens.  The Nikon 7430 Monarch 8×42 All-Terrain binoculars has a full multi-coated lens that highlights brighter and clearer images with less ghosts and blurs.  The new Nikon 7294 Monarch III 8×42 binoculars have a new dielectric high-reflective multilayer coating.  The dielectric high-reflective multilayer coating features even crisper images and sharper colors through the binoculars.  The coating also allows a much improved low-light performance with the Nikon 7294 Monarch III 8×42 Binoculars.  I love the fact that Nikon is continuously out there improving their binoculars.  The full multi-coated lens on the 7430 is a super crisp and bright lens.  So you can imagine the superb view that you get on the 7294 with the dielectric high-reflective multi-layer coating.

Another change in the new Nikon 7294 Monarch III 8×42 binoculars is it’s newer body style.  The new body furnishes a stronger and more rugged binocular.

The warranty for both binoculars are the same great warranty that Nikon provides.  I like Nikon’s warranty because they definitely stand behind their products.  It covers damage to the binoculars (even if it’s your fault).  Let’s face it, when we are out in the elements anything can happen.

In conclusion, the Nikon 7294 Monarch III 8×42 binoculars and the Nikon 7430 Monarch 8×42 All-Terrain binoculars are both great glasses.  If I were looking for a new pair of bird watching binoculars I would certainly look at the new Nikon 7294 Monarch III 8×42 binoculars first.

UPDATE:  Nikon has changed the name of the Nikon Monarch ATB III to Nikon Monarch 5

Other posts related to this:

The Nikon 7294 Monarch III 8×42 Binoculars Review

Easy Steps To Choosing The Right Bird Watching Binoculars

Nikon 7430 Monarch 8x42mm  All-Terrain Binoculars