I first discovered the joys of backyard birding as a girl in Georgia. My mother and I would wake up early, steep tea, and sit quietly observing our feathered neighbors. I was gifted my first pair of binoculars in college while taking a wildlife course and the rest is history. In terms of hobbies, backyard birding is one of the cheapest and most fulfilling hobbies one can experience. Portland abounds with birds just waiting to be appreciated by you.
The International Journal of Science, Nature, in “How birds spread around the globe” (2015) states that “Birds inhabit every continent, and are among the most diverse vertebrate groups on Earth.” According to the Audubon Society of Portland, over 400 species of birds use Oregon for a portion of their lifecycle and more than 200 pass through the Portland Metropolitan region. How exciting! This allows for a multitude of opportunities and locations for birding.
To determine the best location for birding in my area, I used the Portland-Important Bird area map located on audubonportland.org. An Important Bird Area (IBA) is a site selected for having an excellent habitat vital for birds. My best friend and I chose to visit Smith and Bybee Wetlands. Only a few minutes from our homes in North Portland, Smith and Bybee Wetlands Natural Area is a 2000 acre natural wetland known to host over 100 species of birds. Armed with a single pair of binoculars and our eyes, we set off for adventure.
Early to midmornings is the best time for active birding. I recommend dressing in layers to make sure you stay warm. Pick a quiet comfortable spot to stand or sit and then be still. Patience is the name of this game. Remember to show respect, you are a visitor of the birds home. You are an observer not a disturber. Set your sites on a tree or area where you notice avian movement and then slowly focus your eyes on a particular bird of interest. Watch, listen, be present. What do you hear? What colors are visible in their feathers? How many birds can you count in one tree? Have fun with your time. There is no right or wrong way to bird watch as long as you are being respectful and appreciative.
On our visit, we saw hundreds of migrating Canadian Geese, a number of House Finches, a Kestrel and an American Robin. The sky was beautiful and the air fresh and crisp. It was a very awakening experience. I encourage you to explore the beautiful land that the Pacific Northwest offers us and discover the avian residents who reside here. To learn more about conserving and preserving our wildlife in Portland, visit www.audubonportland.org or visit the Audubon Society nature sanctuary, nestled in the heart of Forest Park. Happy Birding!