Targeted Birding

I received a text from fellow birder Mark that said he was going to Silver Spring State Park to find the Townsend’s Solitaire; Karen and I decided to join in the hunt since it would be a Lifer for us.  When you set off and your the primary focus is to find one species, it is called Targeted Birding.

As we drove (45 minutes) we reviewed what the Townsend’s Solitaire looked like (like a Mockingbird with big white eye rings) and listened to its call.  We had pretty good directions on which area of the state park to look and as we wandered around we bumped into Al Stokie, a prolific Illinois birder.

As the four of us scoured the area in search of the bird Al encouraged us to look for berry bushes, as this is what the bird eats.  About 15 minutes later we did hear the bird and scanned the area where the calls were coming from.  Lo and behold it flew up to the top of tall tree stump on an island in the river about 70 yards away and it sat there long enough to get some pictures – good enough for identification (alas, not good enough bird photography for GreatBirdPics).

Mission accomplished!  We gave each other high-fives and recorded the sighting on our Ebird checklist to see the checklist and the pictures of the target bird and a couple of a Barred Owl Al pointed out to us.

The Lesson Learned – At some time in your birding you will start to do more Targeted Birding.   Be fully prepared!  We drove 45 minutes each way to see one bird and it would have been a shame to have missed it because we weren’t fully informed about the bird.  Here are things that will help you find the bird:

• Know what the bird looks like.  Duh! Review pictures of the bird beforehand to know what to look for.
• Know what to listen for.  Review the various sounds your target bird is likely to make
• Get good directions on where to look.  Contact someone who has recently seen the bird to get directions.  In our case Mark is a subscriber to an Illinois listserve that people post information about their bird sightings.
• Know the bird (this was our lesson learned).  What habitat can it be found?  Where does it like to reside – on the ground, in the shrubs, high up in the canopy?  What kind of food is it seeking (in this case, bushes and trees with berries).

Any other tips to Targeted Birding?  Reply to this post.

Mike Warner

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