I recently taught a group about 10 common birds seen at Huntley Meadows (one of the best places to go birding around here). Here are 6 facts that stood out to me. This is also a pop quiz, my friends, to assess your birding knowledge. See how many of these birds you can picture in your head with confidence.
- Northern Cardinals have that cool crest (mohawk) - well it turns out that is not stationary, they can actually raise or lower it depending on if they are agitated.
- Great Blue Herons can be up to 4 feet tall but only weigh about 5 pounds because birds have semi-hollow bones. Y’all, there are laptops heavier than a 4 foot tall animal.
- Hooded Mergensers are ducks that here and you may never have seen before. Google them. Also, they sometimes lay eggs in nests that belong to other birds (brood parasitism).
- Tufted Titmice are adorable but also bold - they will pluck fur out of living animals to use in their nest.
- Carolina Wrens have been found to make nests in old boots, mailboxes, flowerpots - you name it.
- The Pileated Woodpecker’s tongue wraps around their brain to protect this head-banger while it absorbs 10x the force it takes for a person to get a concussion with every peck.
I know, right!?
So, how many of these birds are familiar to you? How many would you definitely be able to identify? Count and see the instructions below.
0: Please, go outside immediately. Common, the Cardinal is the State Bird of 7 states!
1-3: Ok, reasonable. You would enjoy our upcoming Introduction to Birding Class which will be taught by the president of the Northern Virginia Birding Club on 4/28.
4-5: Nice! But do you know their calls? Sign up for Birding by Ear on 5/12. Trust me, it's fun to be able to recognize common species.
6: Dang, you must already be a birder. Do Birdathon!
P.S. While birding used to be for seniors, it's become hip. All the cool people who like nature are doing it now. Srsly, the parking lot is full at Huntley every weekend morning. If you want to meet other younger birders (21-45) join this free meetup group and come on out. Birds are dinosaurs, and using binoculars gives you super vision, its fun.