Resources for a Naturalists and our Nature Club Members
Why go birding?
Birding is a delightful hobby you can enjoy at any age or time of year. It makes no difference whether you are alone or in a group, living in the city or the country, as long as you have eyes to see and ears to hear.
Birds are everywhere. You can choose to watch one pair feeding in your backyard, or thousands at migratory stops in a marsh. The variety of calls, colors, sizes, and songs is endless, and provides a great deal. You can make.
Where and when?
Birds, like people, live in communities. A biological community, such as a wetland or a prairie, is a network of plants and animals interacting with each other within a given area. Environmental conditions like hydrology, climate and soils also shape the community, as do periodic events such as fire, flood, and wind. In a healthy community, each organism depends on several others for its continued survival.
Each species of bird requires food, water, nesting sites, and other resources. The area, which provides these essential resources, is called the species’ habitat. In general, a greater variety of birds are found in areas where two or more communities meet, since this area will contain diversity of habitats. For instance at LCS, you may find Sarus Crane, cormorants, ducks etc feeding on wetland, next to wetland cuckoos sing a song, parakeets perch on tree, several forest birds roost in the forest. In the nearby forest, you may watch hen harrier, pied harrier and storks roost in the grasslands. Around the LCS, there are farmlands where you may find storks, cranes, bee-eaters, kingfishers, etc with their joyful activities. Birds are most active at sunrise and sunset in the spring and early summer. For the best birding, get up at sunrise, or take an evening walk. We have recorded over 210 species of birds in and around the LCS at Lumbini
When choosing a field guide, look for one with clear pictures of the birds. A good field guide should illustrate and describe each bird, its habitat, and seasonal changes. Many bird watchers prefer paintings rather than photographs because photographs of birds can be misleading.
There are very few field guidebooks, which has described about Nepalese birds. One of such book is published by Helm Field Guides “Birds of Nepal” written by Grimmett, Inskipp and Inskipp 2000. There are also some bird identification folders for specific regions like Koshi Tappu Wildlife Reserve, Royal Chitwan National Park, Lumbini Crane Sanctuary etc. These folders are good for the beginners to identify some common and beautiful and large birds around the area.
Brochure Plan your visit to a sanctuary, reserves or parks. Find out what days and hours it is open.
Map Keep the map of your visiting area. As far as possible, go only in a group with a leader who knows the area well. Area map will give location of forest, ponds, rivers, information center, trail, routes etc.
Notebook and Pencil Take a notebook and pencil to make sketches of the birds you see and take notes on their location and behavior. Pencil is waterproof and saves your record even if it is wet.
Bird watching is more practical rather than theoretical. Hence, it follows the statement like “Practice makes man perfect”. Wetlands and backyards are the best place to initiate bird watching. It gives you ample time to observe the details of the bird.
You can identify birds by observing the following details:
Size: How big is the bird? Is it big, medium-sized, or small? Compare it with common birds e.g. sparrow, pigeon, crow, pheasant, eagle, vulture etc.
Shape: Is it slender, thin, plump, or large?
Color: Does it have one color or many colors? Does it have stripes, streaks or spots?
Tail: Does it have a long or short tail? Does it hold its tail up or not? Does it wag its tail or not?
Beak: Does it have long or short, curved or straight, narrow or broad beak?
Food: Does it feed on insects, seeds, fruits or crumbs, flesh, carrion etc?
Call: Does it sing sweetly, twitter or make a loud noise?
Movement: How does it move about? Does it walk, jump or run, hop or swim?
Flight: Does it fly fast or slow, high or low, straight, undulating or vertical etc.?
Nesting: Where does it build its nest? On trees, in hedges, on the ground or inside homes. Or the nest is cup shaped, in the tree cavity, platform nest, on the ground or in the wetland etc.
Every kinds or species of bird is different from each other. Birds can be as different from each other as cats dogs, sheep, cows, etc. However, some species are quite distinctive, like Sarus Crane, Ibis bill etc. So identifying them is easy. But, some birds can be so similar to each other that sometimes, expert gets confused to identifying it.
Many birds of the same species look different depending on their age and the time of year. For example, the juvenile Sarus Cranes are gray colors having no red color on head, while adult Sarus are white body with red color in the head. Similarly, nesting Sarus have dark gray color on their body with contrasting red color on the head. The same bird looks different in coloring according to the seasons (summer or winter). So when identifying a species, you may also be able to tell its age and season of the year.
Some male and female birds of the same species are quite different from each other. For example, male paradise flycatchers are white with long tail while female of the same species is dull color without long tail. In scientific term it is called sexual dimorphism.
The best way to identify birds in the field is its morphological character. Chiefly, you have to distinguish their color, beak shape, body size, legs, wings etc. You can also identify them to some extent by their flying pattern, habitat preference, calls etc.
Backyard Bird Watching
You will see many kinds of birds only by traveling some distance to their habitats. Others may be nearby, but the weather and your hectic schedule might prevent you from going out to find them. So what to do? The answer is to bring the birds to you.
Most of the backyard birds belong to the species that usually live in woods and meadows. They move into new habitats when they find suitable clearings with plenty of trees and lawns. To a bird backyard can serve just as a woodland glade. With a bit of thought and effort, the clever bird watcher can make his or her backyard or garden attractive to neighborhood birds.
Birds, essentially, need four things for living, which you can supply:
1. They need a warm, safe place to roost, or rest, each night.
2. They need a safe place to build a nest.
3. They need food.
4. They need water to drink and to bathe in.
5. A place to nest: some birds will use a nest box. Others will nest in thick leafy trees or bushes. It is better to plant some dense shrubs in and around the backyard with thorny hedges to keep out cats. Roosting sites are much the same as nest sites. Any thick, dark, sheltered shrubbery will provide birds with a safe place for the night, away from prowling cats and owls, and out of the cold wind.
eBird is a powerful tool for birders. It has online checklist program that keeps track of how many birds you have seen and where it happened. You can always see the number of birds on your “life list”.
iNaturalist is a citizen science project
and online social network of naturalists, citizen scientists, and biologists built on the concept of mapping and sharing observations of biodiversity across the globe. One of the world's most popular nature apps, it helps you identify the plants and animals around you.
When you see a bird you don’t recognize, simply answer five straightforward questions about its color and size, and the Merlin Bird ID app suggests likely species matches. Managed to snap a photo? Even better! upload it to the app, and Merlin will offer a list of possibilities. You’ll also get plenty of information about the species you’re seeing, courtesy of the Cornell Lab of Ornithology.
Every year the Sarus Craniacs & Conservation Lovers come together to organize Sarus Festival to celebrate conservation efforts in Lumbini. We share our stories and lessons learned and renew our commitment for the next year together.