Taking time for Sunday birding drive to check out what birding may be near you can yield some pretty cool surprises or adventures for you. Pack a light snack, some water and crank up the engine!
California Dreamin’ on a January Day
A venture up through the barnyards near me and open grassy terrain towards Heppler’s Ponds proved to be quite surprising. Nothing like birding and seeing your first ever of a species. I began looking for the usual pair of Black-billed Magpies that hang around the fence posts near a sheep barn on the drive up to Heppler’s. The sheep barn is located in open farmland with sagebrush all around it for acres and acres. Somehow, out of my peripheral, I spotted some movement towards some hay bales to my right. It was low movement on the ground by some dark colored small robust birds with little “apostrophes” on top of their heads. After further checking it out, I discovered it was a “covey” of California Quails. This was a first for me!
California Quails ( Callipepla californica )
- Size: 10″ tall, wingspan 14″
- Weight: 4 – 8 oz.
- Habitat: lives on the ground among grasses, brush
- Nest: 12- 16 eggs, a hollow spot in the ground lined with grasses, leaves.
- Food: seeds, berries, flowers, small insects, grain, caterpillars, snails
- Interesting notes: The California Quail is the state bird of California. They travel in groups called a “covey.”
Why Sunday Birding?
Sundays CAN have some advantages. I know, more people are off and MAY be where you want to drive to. However, you don’t have to look far to wile away time to bird watch away from crowds. No matter the time, you may can find some quiet place for Sunday birding.
- Most of all, keep a map of your local area on hand with you. While it can make for ideas on short drives you can take on a Sunday, be sure to mark the drive somehow in the map, or maybe even on a google map for future reference.
- While looking at your map, try not to think a local park, or state park where there could be lots of people recreating. Since their large presence might disturb the birds there, it may prevent you from seeing or even hearing any bird at all, look elsewhere. Also, a lot of park visitor centers that have some great information mostly are closed on Sundays.
- Think…is there a small body of water that birds might be visiting? An open field with a forest of trees on the sides? Do you have a local creek where you might could observe from safely?
- You may even have a friend that’s free on Sunday who could go enjoy your birding adventure with you!
- If you have small children or grandchildren, you can teach them a love for birding on a casual Sunday birding trip. Their moms and dads might relish the time being by themselves…wink, wink..
Check out “eBird” for Location Suggestions
Be sure to check out where you can find listed hotspots of places to birdwatch near your area.
- From eBird, you can pull up the hotspots in your county where they are ranked by the number of birds being seen. Without a doubt, this great tool will aide you to find birds in your area.
- Be sure to try to “survey” your stopping area not just in the air, but around you on the ground, or you might just miss some great ground feeding birds! The California Quail was a great example of a ground feeder surprise!
- Afterwards, record in your birding journal the day, date, weather conditions, time of day you were there and mark it on your map. (Particularly, if where you see several birds, there may not even BE a noted hotspot.) As a result, you can then later check back to see if they are residents, or if they’re just passing through.
- You can even look up by species on a yearly graph chart the appearance of them during the months of the year. This will help you know when they arrive and leave an area.
- EBird can help you in selecting some places for your Sunday drive birding by date, location or species. Check it out!
As the weather is warming up, breeding season is taking place. There is still migration going on in certain areas. So if Sunday is a day that could work for you, it just might be a great day for a Sunday drive birding!