Saturday, February 9, 2013

Not So Lousy Bird Walk

 I always try to teach the importance of nature to my kids but it’s tough at times competing with today’s distractions. I’m not sure who, or how it came about, but my kids recently asked me to take them birdwatching. With all the distractions of computers and video games they’re normally into, I jump at the opportunity to take them to the woods when given the chance.

I believe it was my son Jonathan who asked first, and my daughter Morgan followed his lead like younger siblings often do. My only concern, as with most kids, was getting them up at 6 a.m. on a Saturday and out of the house by 7. Once that was accomplished, the rest of the morning seemed like a piece of cake.

It just so happened that the Great Dismal Swamp NWR was having one of their so called “Lousy Bird Walks” on Saturday. It’s not really “lousy,” but on a winter walk sightings can be a bit unpredictable. The turnout was small, consisting of  me, my two kids and two refuge guides. It seemed as if we had the whole woods to ourselves.

The morning started off great, especially after spotting one of my favorite birds – the red-headed woodpecker. Don, the refuge’s wildlife biologist, said that the red-headed woodpeckers have really made a comeback in the swamp over the last couple years and being seen in areas of the swamp that they weren’t typically established before.

RHWP Photo from Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia

Red-headed woodpeckers don’t act quite like most other woodpeckers – they’re adept at catching insects in the air, and they eat lots of acorns and beech nuts, often hiding away extra food in tree crevices for later. Unfortunately they’re numbers have been in declined over the past half-century because of habitat loss and changes to its food supply. (Ref: Cornell – All About Birds, Red-headed Woodpecker).

One woodpecker that’s not in decline is the red-bellied woodpecker. We saw several of these during our morning walk. Morgan was excited when she spotted one all by herself.


At times throughout our 2-hour hike things got a little slow, but the kids managed to keep themselves entertained.


Other cool birds we spotted were yellow-crowned kinglets, fox sparrow, red-breasted nuthatch, winter wren, hermit thrush and a few other more common birds. The morning ended just as it began, with another sighting of a red-headed woodpecker.

Unfortunately, most young children today do not have as many direct experiences with nature. If you get an opportunity, experience and explore the great outdoors with your child — you’ll be glad you did!


Check out “Why Kids Need Nature” –


Les said...

I don't believe my son has ever asked me to take him hiking or bird watching, but I make him go anyway. Perhaps it will pay off later in his life.

Janet, The Queen of Seaford said...

My kids are still enjoying nature, now they text me photos of unusual birds or squirrels or flowers or whatever. They appreciate nature and I think yours will continue to be interested as they grow up (though I can't believe how much they have grown!!!)
Check out my latest post on a very strange bird.

Unknown said...

Following your blog is something very interesting and awesome. The blog comes with the best pictures and best information in the field of birds and nature. Your article is also nice and readable.

Portland Homes for Sale

Fern said...

If you love nature walks, and your ever in Tennessee you needs to check out the great stone door, Greeter falls and there Cumberland caverns, rock city... So many great places you could enjoy.

Amy said...

My daughter is in love with nature as well. Recently she inherited a pair of binoculars and has been bird watching for weeks (our house backs up to the forest.) It's encouraging to see fellow parents engaging nature.

jeff said...

very nice. i am a huge advocate of getting kids out into nature and off of the electronics. keep up the good fight!