Family Guide to Observing Birds - Cape Elizabeth Land Trust

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Family Guide to Observing Birds

Cape Elizabeth has a rich variety of bird species that call our town home. With all the various habitats that can be found on CELT properties around town, you have an opportunity to discover and observe a wide variety of bird species and learn about their different habitats, food sources, behaviors and just marvel at the incredible variety of shapes, sizes, and colors!

The website eBird maintains a map of birding “hotspots,” including many in Cape Elizabeth!

Try visiting a different CELT property each week. While there take the time to be still, listen, and observe the birds along the trail. You could ask questions like:

  • How many birds can you count using your eyes? What about with your ears?
  • Can you hear a distant call or song and identify who is making that call?
  • What size are the birds you see?
  • What color is their plumage (feathers)?
  • What are they eating? Seeds from the ground? Insects from the air or off trees? Are they diving into the water to catch something?
  • Do some birds prefer a particular trail or habitat? Why might this be?

Hint: Best birding times are early morning and again at dusk though you certainly can have luck during the day. 

Many people use checklists to keep track of the birds they see. This can be as simple as a list you write and add to, or as complicated as a digital tool like the eBird app.

Harlequin Duck

The harlequin duck (above) is one of several endangered bird species found in Cape Elizabeth.

You don’t need anything other than your senses to observe birds, but tools that can be helpful include:

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Another fun project is to make a bird blind right in your own backyard. Birds can be easily scared off but a bird blind will help camouflage you and increase your chances of observing birds right in your own backyard. Here’s how to make one yourself:

  1. All you need is a big empty appliance box from a refrigerator or stove. Cut a hole in the side of the box just big enough for your eyes or binoculars to fit through.
  2. Place the box in a corner of your yard where you know birds like to hang out.
  3. Crawl into your hideout and be very quiet and wait for the birds to come around! You can even record how many birds you see by keeping tally on the inside of your box bird blind.
  4. You might want to bring along a headlamp/flashlight and book with you to keep yourself entertained while you wait for the birds to come

Taking the time to observe birds can be a really rewarding and enlightening experience. Have Fun!

—BY LISA GENT, CELT EDUCATION COMMITTEE CHAIR

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