Feb. 1, 2012
So - i'd like to chat just a little bit about my recent birding experience away from the Refuge. As you all know from an earlier post, I am doing my own "mini" big year, this year. I don't have the time or funds to due a true big year...but I am challenging myself to get out more, travel a bit if gas prices allow, and see the country and its amazing aviana. And my first month of a year has started of quite well with a trip to the Rio Grande Valley of souther Texas. (My parents are Winter Texans, so, a visit to see them also becomes a great trip for birding. With many TX state parks and refuges partnering with the World Birding Center - the birding along the RGV is really hard to beat almost any time of year - except for maybe warbler migration back east.
I have now visited the area three times and each time have been amazed at the variety of birds - not to mention the list of stunning "lifers" I have been able to add to my list at almost every hotspot. But - what really always hits me as special - along with the rarities and mexican specialties that "hang" along the border - is what I like to call the special birdlinks. A birdlink to me is when that thing...that bit of information that you've always known conceptually (for example - long billed curlews migrate to fields of southern texas for the winter) becomes reality by seeing the birds at both ends of their migratory path. This is true for any part of the nation or North America - of course...not just Utah to southern Texas. Having the chance to see a species...like a Sora or a Vesper or Lark sparrow or the aforementioned curlews both on breeding grounds and wintering grounds someone seems extra special to me. It brings the importance of conservation not just in pockets or lone refugia but along major pathways, landscapes and migratory flyways into crystal clear view. It also helps the conservationist, myself happily and proudly one, understand these species and their needs to a much fuller extent. Knowing what the curlews are heading to and how they get there - can help enhance our management of the species back here at Bear River.
So - as we enter February of 2012 - I challenge everyone to get out and bird..and travel if you can...to an area where the birds you are used to use the landscape very differently than they would near your home. And if travel in these expensive times is difficult - check out range maps and the amazing info.on species in the Birds of North America or All About Birds from our friends at the Cornell Lab of Ornithology. Learn what it's like for the tanagers or towhees down south and I will bet you...that when they return this spring and summer to your yards and feeders...they will look even lovlier to your eyes and your appreciation of conservation at a much larger and grander scale with have grown tenfold.