Wednesday, November 18, 2009
(Great Horned Owl)
As the seasons continue to change from fall to winter it is a great time to be outside seeing the changes. This time of year is a great time to experience bird migrations. If you live in an area where large migrations occur, definitely spend some time watching the birds travel to their winter homes. A friend of mine counted 200+ Red Throated Loons (gavia Stellata) in one morning here on the coast! If you live in a non-migratory area, it is still a great time to get out and look for birds and small animals due to the lesser amount of foliage on the trees and Still Hunting is a great way to experience wildlife close up.
Still Hunting does require a little patience and the ability to stay relatively still for a while. First find yourself an area where you can sit comfortably, lying down is also an option. This is best done either early in the morning or just before and during dusk. These are the times when birds tend to be the most active. Once you are comfortable, take a few deep breaths to help quiet yourself down. Once you have settled in, practice using your deer ears and coyote eyes to explore the area. After a few minutes, begin making a series of bird calling noises. Pick a rhythm and begin making the following sound, Psshtt, Psshtt, Psshtt, Psshtt. You might only make two or three of these calls per minute.
Do not make the sounds with great enthusiasm or volume because it could be interpreted by birds as a warning call and actually scare birds and other critters away. You are attempting to call birds towards you, not scare them away. If you remain still, and continue to make the calling noises every 30 seconds or so, you may be able to get birds curious enough and feel safe enough to come fairly close. This can be a great way to get started in the hobby of bird watching.
There are a few things that you can do to help make this activity more successful. First wear clothes that are natural in color, like brown and greens. Second, bring something soft to sit on. And third if you really want to blend in either get some cheap camouflage clothes or you can lie down on the ground and cover yourself with leaves and ground debris.
It might take up to 30 minutes for a good amount of birds to come by and visit. But often within 15 minutes you can attract birds to your area. Also, if you can remain somewhat still, you will not alarm the birds and animals, and they will come around. If you really want to have an advantage, spread some some birdseed around the area for a couple of days before you go still hunting to get birds and small animals use to the food being there. Have fun, and if you have a quiet camera, take some photos!
If you have any questions or feedback, please email me at:
If you have fairly young children and it is a challenge for them to remain quiet for extended periods of time, simply go for a slow walk and count the number of birds and small animals you can see. It is a start to developing skills for Still Hunting.
Websites to visit:
Two websites about bird migrations:
A fun little game about bird migration.