Best Birding In the World!

Birding in our Back Yard

We’ve traveled throughout the United States seeking interesting birds, and we just discovered the very best place.

It’s our backyard! Since we began actively diversifying the plants in our yard they’ve welcomed many new bird species to visit, rest, and eat. And, we live next to Faulke’s Heritage Woods, a 110 acres of shrubs and old trees that is a warbler and woodpecker haven.

Anyone who plants an array of bushes and grasses in their yard, even if it’s a tiny yard, can enjoy birding at home. Planting appropriate shrubs, mainly native species is important because some shrubs like barberry are invasive and crowd out beneficial plants.

Because the yard is right out the door, it is an easy place to grab the binoculars and a glass of wine or cup of tea and sit quietly.

Here’s what we’ve seen or heard in our yard in the past two weeks:

The winter birds left quietly – juncos and siskins. And, on their heels arrived the migrants.

Resident and Migratory Birds

Warblers:   Black-Throated Green, Tennessee, Blackpoll, Cerulean, Yellow, Yellow-Rumped, and Redstart

Woodpeckers:   Pileated, Hairy, Downy, Red Bellied, Red Headed, and Flicker. Earlier in the year, we saw the telltale evidence of the elusive sapsucker – wells drilled horizontally in sap filled trees.

Others:  Bluebird, Cowbird, White Crowned and White Throated Sparrow, Chipping Sparrow, House Sparrow, Starling, Turkey, Crows, Vulture, Cooper’s Hawk, Barred and Horned Owls, Eagles, Chickadee, Nuthatch, Brown Creeper, House Wren, Titmouse, Goldfinch, House Finch, Robin, Wild Turkey, Hummingbird, Oriole, Rose-breasted Grosbeak, Indigo Bunting and a Wood Duck winging overhead. Additionally, Canada geese and pelicans have flown over on their way to ponds and lakes.

Recently Rich and a friend hiked to Hanging Rock in Effigy Mounds National Monument in northeast Iowa. They birded on the seven-mile walk. It was outstanding and spotted many species. But, not as many as we’ve seen sitting in our own backyard!

Winding Pathways encourages people to diversify the plants in their yards to create truly wondrous places that birds love. It can be the best place in the world to enjoy them.

 

Mini-Binoculars Will Travel

TRAVELING WITH BINOCULARS

Disclosure: Years ago we were asked to serve on the Alpen Optics Birding Pro-Staff and periodically we receive optics to test. Following is a report on using mini-binoculars while traveling.

In October we enjoyed a 1600-mile, 12-day clockwise loop around Washington State.    After picking up our rental car at the Spokane airport our journey took us through deserts, mountain passes, the Olympic rainforest, and even across Puget Sound on a ferry.

We enjoyed spotting new bird species, sea lions, jellyfish, Roosevelt elk, and a host of other wildlife. Good thing we brought along binoculars! We wouldn’t dream of traveling without binoculars and use them constantly. Even when we trek to New York City we tote along a pair. But, for this trip, they presented a dilemma.

We wanted to avoid checking baggage on the plane to save cost and the possibility of a lost suitcase.

Hoh Rainforest

Rich with compact binoculars.

Delta Airlines limited us to a small suitcase that we could carry on the plane. Squeezing nearly two weeks’ worth of clothes and supplies into these packs was a challenge. It became obvious that we couldn’t fit in our full-size binocs. Mini Binoculars to the rescue! Our Alpen Wings ED compact binoculars easily nested into a hiking boot that we tucked in the pack.

For all around general binocular use, and when we’re traveling by car, we always use full-size binoculars. They fit our hands well, provide a bright image, even at dawn and dusk, and their field of view is wide. Their downside is bulkiness.

Many optical companies sell high-quality compact binoculars. Go for quality. Inexpensive models are nearly useless. Here are the pros and cons of mini binoculars:

PRO

Compact binoculars are handy because they are small. They easily fit in a glove compartment, purse, or jacket pocket and take little space in a suitcase. Mini’s are ideal for travel. Quality ones have clear optics.

Having a pair of mini binoculars handy is always better than not having binoculars.

CON

Mini binoculars have a limited field of view and are rarely as good in low light situations as their full-size cousins. We find them a little harder to use and hold than full-size models and would never choose to use minis for long viewing sessions or if we went on specific birding excursions. But they are invaluable when size and weight are limited.

The best solution is to have two pairs of binoculars. One full sized model for general use and minis for travel and convenience.

May in Northeast Iowa

May is about the most exciting month to travel and camp out in Iowa.  We took in the Driftless area of Iowa and Wisconsin where we learned more about mounds at Effigy Mounds National Monument, ate at funky Café McGregor, took in Starks and Cabelas in Prairie du Chien, and entered our favorite forest over the “Forest Road” into Yellow River State Forest.

  • Note our reviews and thoughts are independent, unpaid and unsolicited.

Enjoy this photo journal of our stay.