Just Look Out the Window
“If you truly love nature, you will find beauty everywhere.” — Vincent Van Gogh
How high can a Robin Red Breast can hop? Did you know a Blue Jay likes peanuts just as much as we do? How many nests can you see from your yard?
Spring and fall migrations are typically the busiest seasons to catch colorful beauties in Port Arthur. They love our famous birding sites including Sabine Woods, Sea Rim State Park and Pleasure Island. This season’s distancing challenges have us looking for intensely local birds … in our own neighborhoods.
Watch from Home
Facebook groups such as Quaranwitching – Birding from Home have formed with people from all over uniting to share images of birds congregating at feeders and birdbaths and perched on wires. You can join in the fun as their lists grow, and start your own.
New at this?
While binoculars and field guides are nice, now you can eye-spot and get computer answers via links like Golden Triangle Audubon Society. This is a learn-at-home teaching time for children and a birding is a natural way to relax and appreciate the beauty of life..
Begin With These Birdies:
Golden Triangle Audubon Society members are often avid nature photographers. Some members and other area birders share tips on what you may find out your Southeast Texas windows:
Photographer Fritz Meyer calls his yard “The Jungle.” He aims his lens at Red-breasted Robins, Blue Jays, Cardinals, White-Wing Doves, Starlings, Red-Wing Blackbirds, Grackles, a “hummer” every now and then and the occasional screech owl.
He added Yelow-Rumped Warbler, an appropriate title that still gets giggles from newbies.
Most people in our area will have the Cardinals, Jays, Doves and Grackles if they have mature trees, Sheila Hebert said. She adds Red-Bellied Woodpeckers to the list of commons.
“One of the easiest and cheapest ways to attract birds is suet baskets. They attract a wide variety of birds,” she said. Baskets are a “couple of bucks” and suet cakes are generally under a dollar, she said.
“A little more expensive would be to put out a platform or hopper (house) feeder. These can be filled with birdseed or black-oil sunflower seeds. Cardinals, jays and woodpeckers are especially fond of the sunflower seeds,” Hebert said.
Build a feeder from something simple, like a recyclable bottle and create art projects involving bird images and photography. Make sure you feed the birds good, nutritional seeds.
“The children could also keep a daily log our journal of the birds they see in their yard,” Hebert said.
Native Garden for Birds and Pollinators
Texas is big, we know. It has more than 5,000 species of native plants and that are beautiful and often, easier to care for because, well, they are at home. Natives are drought-tolerant, naturally conserving water resources. They are not too “fussy.” Food and habitat for butterflies, birds, bees and other natural visitors. The Native Plant Society of Texas as a Sabine Chapter in the area and you can find a list of native plants good for your zone, here.
Red and Blue
Darlyne Peck Hartman is “nuts” for backyard birding and draws them into camera range with peanuts in their shells.
“My two favorite back yard birds are the Blue Jay and the Red-Bellied Woodpecker. The Red-Bellied gets his name because of his blushing red belly that is rarely seen because its usually pressed against the tree. They stay with mates for each season. Their life span is 12.10 years living in the wild, Peckman said. “The Blue Jay is loud, aggressive and is a bully. They are beautiful in color and highly intelligent. They are monogamous and rear their young together. To attract the birds I throw out seeds, nuts, grains and fruit.”
Grab your sketchpad and charcoal pencil, or spiral notebook and ballpoint. Just go, find a tree, and sit under it. Doodle the graceful unfurling of a fern. Try to sketch that impish expression from a squirrel. Compose a poem about that bird’s soulful song. It’s just for you to enjoy and reflect on at your leisure.
Why Birds Love Us
Port Arthur had the good fortune to be in both the Central and Mississippi Flyways and that makes for big, big birding. Our region features shore birds on the coast, wading birds in our abundant marshes and Piney Woods.
The Golden Triangle Audubon Society keeps up Sabine Woods, a Texas Ornithological Society property. Check out their Facebook page for amazing photos and read their newsletter, The Brown Pelican. The Houston Audubon Society is offering virtual tours on their Facebook page.