With so many things to do on the Cahaba River National Wildlife Refuge, the hardest part will be choosing which to do first.
One popular activity is birdwatching along the Refuge. With so many specifies of birds that call the Refuge home, it’s easy to see why this has become such a fun thing to do! Birdwatching on the Refuge offers so many fantastic opportunities to spot a variety of bird species. The best part is you can bird watch from any area along the river. Just find the best view, sit back, relax with a pair of binoculars and enjoy the vast species of birds you are sure to see!
Here are few birdwatching tips to get started:
1. Keep your eye on the bird
Once you spot a bird, don’t immediately start flipping through pages of bird books to identify the species.
Take a minute to watch the bird and really see it. Absorb the details and markings of the bird that make it
unique. You never know how long you will have to watch the bird, so take in every minute. You can always
look at the bird book later and go from there. Jot down quick notes or tell a friend what you see, so that you
can later identify the bird species.
2. Listen for calls and songs
One of the easiest identifiers of bird species are the songs they sing. So make sure you watch with not only
your eyes but also your ears. Listen to the songs and makes notes of what you hear.
3. Estimate general size and shape
Begin the overall appearance of the bird. This will help with identifying the bird and associating it with its
correct family. Think in terms of general silhouettes (is it the size of a sparrow? a robin? a turkey?).
4. Make note of bill marking and facial characteristics
Look for distinctive stripes and patches of color (including crown stripes, nape color, eye lines, eye arcs,
or rings). Also note the length of the bill in relation to the birds head.
5. Make note of the birds body features
Next look for details on the wings, body and tail of the bird. What color is its belly? Under the wings?
6. Make not of leg color and length
Long or short legs and what color? Does it have webbed feet or talons? Observe the toes.
7. Study movement and flight patterns
Look at how the bird walks, flies, or jumps from branch to branch.
8. Determine feeding habits
If possible, determine what the bird is feeding on and how it feeds.
9. Take note of habitat
There are many migratory birds that flow in and out of the Refuge, so make sure to make note of the season
and the setting when you birdwatch.
10. Record all the details
Once you’ve done the fun part (the actual birdwatching!), make sure to jot down all your notes for later
reference in determining the species. Make sure to remember and record as many details as possible!
For a complete guide to birdwatching on the Refuge, check back soon!