Birding is not just for the annual Christmas Bird Count, and never has been. For Carolyn Greene, a Quarryhill docent, it’s almost been a lifetime pursuit.
“Quarryhill provides an abundance of what all birds need – food, water, shelter and other birds,” said Greene. “Spring is an excellent time to look, and listen, for birds.” She’ll be doing that on Saturday, March 24, on a two-hour naturalist walk at Quarryhill Botanical Garden that starts at 10 a.m.
Although the Quarryhill walk will include discursions on the garden’s history and plant collection of Asian plants, Greene is also hopeful of helping hikers spot the ten most common birds seen at Quarryhill, along with many of the others that frequent the Sonoma Valley landscape.
These include two kinds of jay, two kinds of towhee, the western bluebird, dark-eyed junco, American robin, house finch, oak titmouse and red-shouldered hawk. “Plus the lovely pacific slope flycatcher that has made her nest on a retired small boiler chimney in a garden shed, each of the past three summers,” added Greene hopefully.
“My first and still favorite bird is the northern flicker – often heard at least in the garden,” said Greene. “I specialize in ear-birding as well. It’s much easier to identify (a bird) by sound than have to go look for them!”
In fact listening for birds can be almost as reliable a means of spotting species as an identification, especially for a long-time birder like Greene who claims her naturalist-birder status has lasted for 65 years and counting.
She calls the skill of identifying birds by their sound one that comes more naturally to birders the more they practice, and a talent that enriches one’s experience of the natural world. But she derides the idea that birding, whether by eyesight or ear, is a specialized skill for the few.
“Birding is a field skill that increases one’s awareness of everything because it is equally sight-and-sound based,” said Greene, long active in the Redwood Regional Ornithological Society. “Binoculars would be a welcome option; eyes and ears are mandatory.”
Besides, she says, “What’s not to like about birds?”
Fee is $15 for members, $20 general. To register go to quarryhillbg.org/page149.html