April 2015: Bird watching

Cover of Birder's Guide to the Chicago Region by Carpenter and Greenberg

April 2015 library profile:

Bird watching


"One winter morning the President electrified his nervous Cabinet by bursting into a meeting with, 'Gentlemen, do you know what has happened this morning?' They waited with bated breath as he announced, 'Just now I saw a Chestnut-sided Warbler and this is only February.'"

~Corinne Roosevelt Robinson (on her brother Theodore Roosevelt)



It's finally spring and the birds are out in full force! 'Tis the season to watch out for those nesting red-winged blackbirds and enjoy the calls of birds migrating to or through Chicagoland for the warmer months. Interested in knowing more and becoming a birdwatcher? Check out the resources that The Morton Arboretum and the Sterling Morton Library can offer: hands-on classes, books and guides, and a beautiful landscape where you can try out your new skills and see thousands of birds in their natural habitats. From resources on the history of birdwatching to how-to guides and where-to guides, the Sterling Morton Library can provide you the information you need to get birdwatching this spring!



"Bird watcher. Just mention the term and your mind conjures up an image of an eccentric, absent-minded character dressed in khaki shorts and hiking boots, juggling binoculars, field guides, notebooks, and assorted paraphernalia while slogging through a swamp at four in the morning in hot pursuit of the 'purple-breasted, yellow-tailed, orange-eyed dickeybird.' But everyone, to a certain extent, is a bird watcher. It can't be helped. Birds are the most abundant, and certainly the most obvious of all wild creatures, easily observed living, feeding, and raising their young in close proximity to humans, in any habitat, during any season. Bird watching, in its simplest form, is little more than acknowledging the presence of a particular bird. But what happens when you want to know more about the birds you are seeing? How will you answer all the questions that will naturally occur to you? What kind of bird is that? What is it doing? I wonder what it eats. Why is it singing like that? Where does it go in the winter? How does it find its way? Where does it raise its young? Here... in my backyard? I never noticed! Once you begin to ask questions, you have really started bird watching. It sounds the same, it's spelled the same, but it represents a new outlook about birds in particular, and wildlife in general. Now you're thinking like an ornithologist."

~from A Bird Watcher's Handbook: Field Ornithology for Backyard Naturalists by Laura O'Biso Socha, 1987


Classes and events at The Morton Arboretum

Spring Bird Walks - Celebrate spring by searching the Arboretum grounds for nature’s brightly colored pageant of spring birds. Join us to follow the spring migration through the season with an expert guide.

Field Study: Birds of Spring - Learn how to identify Illinois' spring resident and migratory birds by sight and call and meet other birders.

Special Topics in Bird ID: Spring - Take a closer look at identifying common but complex groups of birds. Practice noting basic field marks, become skilled at recognizing key details of a bird’s appearance, and learn to account for wear and molt to avoid common pitfalls of identification.

Bird Behavior - Saturday sessions will be spent in the field, observing behaviors that link bird species to each other and their environment.

Warbler Workshop - Brightly colored warblers are one of the highlights of spring - time to dust off and improve those identification skills!


Library resources

A Birder's Guide to the Chicago Region by Lynne Carpenter and Joel Greenberg, 1999

Pete Dunne on Bird Watching: The How-to, Where-to, and When-to of Birding by Pete Dunne, 2003

The New Stokes Field Guide to Birds: Eastern Region by Donald and Lillian Stokes, 2013

Neighbors to the Birds: A History of Birdwatching in America by Felton Gibbons and Deborah Strom, 1988

A Bird Watcher's Handbook: Field Ornithology for Backyard Naturalists by Laura O'Biso Socha, 1987

The Birder's Handbook: A Field Guide to the Natural History of North American Birds by Paul R. Ehrlich, David S. Dobkin, and Darryl Whey, 1988


Reader's advisory

If you are interested in bird watching, check out our previous profile on ebird.org, where you can upload bird sightings and see migration trends. Also check out the books we have on birdscaping to help bring some of these beautiful creatures into your own backyard. 


Click here to see previous Monthly Library Profiles!