Naturalist Perspectives Challenge: Find An Uncommon Bird and Observe

In addition to regular assignments, the Naturalist Perspectives part of the course will include regular challenges. You will have one week to complete each challenge, and you must complete 4 challenges by the last day of class for full credit for the challenges part of the project.

file-sep-20-11-57-33-amYour first Naturalist Perspectives challenge, due March 27, is to find and observe an uncommon (or at least less common) bird.

  1. Spend some time in Site Alpha or somewhere else looking for a bird that’s not a pigeon, dove, crow, house sparrow, robin, blue jay, starling, grackle, turkey, swan, goose, mallard duck, etc—house finches, northern cardinals, chickadee and catbirds are okay. You’ll probably have to be patient, but if you give this some time, you can find some interesting species. See if you can spot a nuthatch, red-tailed hawk, woodpecker or goldfinch. Or something more unusual. If you need advice on where to see interesting birds, ask Dave Morimoto for recommendations on areas with interesting species or check eBird for bird sighting hotspots in your local area.
  2. Once you’ve spotted this bird, observe it for as long as you can. Binoculars may be helpful, but often you can actually see a lot without the help of optics. Note what the bird looks like and what it appears to be doing. What properties of life is its behavior exemplifying? How about biological themes? If you can take a photo, great, but don’t get too hung up on trying to get a picture.
  3. Identify (ID) this bird: if you don’t already know the species of the bird you spot it, figure it out with a field guide. Having taken note of the bird’s appearance, you should be able to determine the species or at least narrow it down to a few options. Does the description of this species in the field guide help explain any of the behaviors you observed?
  4. Write a blog post that
    • begins with the date, time, location and weather conditions of your observations;
    • summarizes your observations;
    • describes the properties of life related to your observations;
    • includes any interpretations you’d like to share;
    • provides information on your identification of this bird: What species have you identified it as and why? What facts about this species are surprising to you?
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