Birding

A Costa's hummingbird sits on a branch. 

By Alexia Svejda

Grab your smart phone and a notebook and take a stroll around your neighborhood. Maybe you’ll hear a chirp, or a shriek or even a hoot. You might even find yourself face to face with a warbler or a California condor.

This isn’t a pastime that has to be planned or researched. The beauty of birding is that you could do it anytime and anywhere. It also spans across generations.

Alexia Svejda and her 14-year-old daughter, Nadia, who live in California City, often just go out to their backyard to eat breakfast and will stumble across birds of many kinds. California City is one of the top birding spots in Southern California.

They started birding by just listening and seeing what kind of wildlife they have around their home. Before they knew it, they had spotted 178 different species of birds in just one year.

This amazing discovery catapulted them into the wonderful world of birds. It soon became a great bonding experience for the mother and daughter.

The pair would wake up bright and early, sometimes around 4 a.m., to catch birds waking up and getting ready to start their days.

“The best time to bird is right when the sun comes up or right before the sun goes down,” Nadia said. “When they’re all waking up and leaving or coming in.”

Nadia, who has been seriously birding since she was 11 years old, has learned a lot from birding with her mother. She has learned to describe where things are and how they sound. She also enjoys and has noticed that every bird is different.

“Different species seem to have different personalities,” Nadia said.

“Some are oozing with character,” Alexia added.

Alexia suggests that if anyone is going to go out and start birding, the best app to download is the eBird app.

The eBird app, which is run by the Cornell Lab of Ornithology, is a free mobile app that is a fast and accurate way for users to submit and track bird sightings.

All a birder would have to do is enter when, where and how they went birding and what birds they saw. The app lets you track local hot spots and make checklists of species and how many of each was sighted. This app is not only useful to birders but it helps inform researchers and conservationists worldwide.

“It’s like one giant citizen science project,” Alexia said. 

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