I never envisioned myself as one of "those people" who creep through the woodlands with binoculars trying to spot and identify every bird. I'm still not quite that far gone, but I have developed a great curiosity about the birds that I see, and more often, hear, as I explore the recreational trails in the Dover-Foxcroft area.
I've also developed a great deal of respect for "those people" and their prey. Birds instinctively know to put camouflage between themselves and potential enemies, and they blend in so easily! It is maddening to spot a bird and have it disappear before my eyes long before I can get my camera zoomed in on it. Birds can simply step behind a leaf, hop around to the back of the tree trunk, or land in a tangle of dead branches -- and it's as if they are not there at all.
I completely understand why many people opt to "bird by ear," learning the various calls in order to check a species off of their "Life List." Birders able to learn and memorize all of those intricate trills, chirps and other calls will have far more check marks on their lists of North American bird species than I will ever achieve. Unfortunately, my method is to try to capture a decent photo and then come home and use the images to try to identify the species.
My go-to reference is "Peterson Field Guide to Birds of Eastern and Central North America." It was a gift from my daughter, a wildlife major. I consider this whole birding habit to be her fault, in fact. There are hundreds of bird species on the Life List in the back of the book -- I've checked off 86 so far, and all but one were visuals. In the case of the evening-loving whip-poor-will, I settled for birding by ear, as I may never get lucky enough to see one.
I'm including images of only the birds I've spotted in the D-F area with this blog, in case they pique the curiosity of locals or visitors to the area. I know many of the species: mourning doves, cedar waxwing, red-winged blackbird, northern flicker, various ducks. However, there are many that I have either not had time to look up yet, or for which I lack enough angles to achieve identification. So much goes into a proper identification that you almost need a head shot, and one from the front, rear, and in flight! One frustrating shot among these features a bird with a bright orange blaze across its chest -- with its entire head hidden behind a branch as if to spite me for my curiosity.
If you are an avid birder, feel free to offer some identifications to go with these images. Lacking a more experienced birder to hike with most of the time, I would be thrilled to have one to "blog bird" with. After all, I still need about a thousand check marks on that Life List!