- These adult Townsend's Solitaires are on the lookout for birders. (Photo by Jim Anderson)
If you've been wanting to get into birding, now's the time. The East Cascades Audubon Society and a group of dedicated birders have set up the "Oregon Birding Site Guide" website, providing maps and directions to the some 1100 birding sites in Oregon.
Start by going to ecaudubon.org, which will open the ECAS home page. There you'll see everything going on with birds in Central Oregon (and some very nice bird photos across the top). In the middle of the page, under the bird photos, there's a state map labeled Oregon Birding Locations. Place your cursor anywhere on the map and click. That will open the map and show all 36 Oregon counties, with a short paragraph telling you about the birding sites throughout the state.
This magnificent birding map and the data it holds got started like all good ideas do; someone said, "What if?" In this case, Chuck Gates and Tom Crabtree, worldwide master birders, were discussing their favorite subject (birds) when Gates suggested they get their heads together and publish a new book on Oregon birding locations. Gates pointed out the fact that the old book was was VERY old—at least 40 years, in fact.
Soon a couple more birders got into the discussion, all of whom agreed with Chuck and Tom that a new birding guide was needed. As so often happens when people talk about new ideas, Gates asked the group who would like to help take it on, and he raised his hand.
"Well," Gates said, "I was the only one with my hand up...so I guess I was the person to do it." And he did, with all the others pitching in to help. One big realization was immediate, however. First, it would be costly to do a book, and second, it would be easier to access and use if it were done electronically. Before you knew it, Gates created the Oregon Birding Site Guide and installed it on the ECAS website.
Part of the opening message reads: "This guide gives DeLorme map pages, geographic coordinates, Google Maps, and written descriptions on how to locate each birding site. It also offers habitat information and gives the birder a taste of the kinds of birds that can be found at each location. The sites are arranged by county and a map with all county sites is presented at the beginning of each page. County names are links to PDF files describing birding locations."
What to do next, dear readers, bird enthusiasts, and all others who want to become involved with the nature of the world around you? Head to a store where you can buy a pair of good binoculars and a field guide for birds. Pack up grandma, grandpa and the kids and head for any part of the state you want to see birds. If you have the financial resources to do so, I suggest you also buy a good spotting scope. That way if you are looking at a bird in a nest, perched on a rock or limb, feeding babies or stationary, you can get them in the scope and everyone can take a turn oohing and aahing.
If you experience something going on you didn't expect, or understand, and want to talk to someone who can help, don't hesitate to call me: 541-380-3728. I may not know the answer, but I have a bunch of telephone numbers to call that may be of help.
Oh, and please! When you visit one (or more) of the sites Gates and his crew have set out for you, call or send me a note and share your experiences. If you want to include a photo or two, do it! My email is: firstname.lastname@example.org. Have a wonderful time.