Our second cohort of the Doris Duke Conservation Scholars program is taking part in a conservation summer immersion program on the Colorado Plateau, and they are guest blogging here at L-C-Ideas to keep us up to speed on what they’re doing. Please check back for more!
Day 23: Birding 101
By Tracey and William
Today was a low key day. Yesterday, we received our Final Project Assignment for the Immersion Program. So, we were given all morning and most of the afternoon to work on it. We were divided into four groups; each group was given one of the following topics: biodiversity, endangered species, invasive species, or fragmentation and corridors. Will and I are both in the fragmentation and corridors group and we spent the morning meeting to talk about our presentation.
In the afternoon, Mel (one of the DDCSP staff) gave a workshop on the different aspects of birding, as it pertains to the Southwest and elsewhere. We were taught the best ways to identify birds and animal tracks, as well as how to observe an animal’s behavior. Observing certain traits of a bird, such as its flight pattern and posture, help to discern what species of bird one has identified. This aids in identifying traits between a common species and variation between different populations in a specific area.
While birding, other characteristics worth looking for that might help identify a bird after observation include size and shape, color pattern, and the bird’s habitat. To grasp the size and shape of a bird, it is important to note the length of the tail, neck, bill, and wings. When looking for color pattern, Mel emphasized to keep in mind that birds will not always look exactly like a picture in a certain guidebook, and that male and female birds of the same species are fairly easy to note because they will have different colorings.
To conclude her workshop, Mel told us the six characteristics she observes for identifying flowers. She begins with the identification of where one is. Next, we are to look at the main color of the flower of our observation. Following that step, we should identify the symmetry of a flower; it is either actinomorphic (like an *) or zygomorphic (like a +). In the fourth step, we should count the number of sepals a flower has. Fifth, we are to count the number of petals a flower has. Lastly, make sure to count the stamens (male parts) and pistils (female) parts of a flower. Using a combination of these characteristics, and sometimes other plant characteristics such as leaf shape, leaf venation, woodyness, height, and more, well Mel said we should be able to identify the flower we are observing because few species have the same combination of seven characteristics and more that have been noted.