I am usually a very patient person, but it gets harder to be patient when I get really excited about something.
I recently had my patience put to the test when my husband and I went birdwatching during the Great Backyard Bird Count.
We headed out to the bird blind at the Central Kentucky Wildlife Refuge the Sunday of the count. Having never been to a bird blind before, I didn’t know exactly what to expect.
The bird blind is a nice little building several hundred feet from the parking lot with three rows of stadium seating inside and three big one-way windows that let you see out but don’t let the birds see in. Outside the bird blind in the woods are multiple feeders filled with all kinds of seeds.
The walls are lined with all sorts of bird posters, which came in handy identifying birds.
When we first got settled in the blind, there were no birds visible anywhere, and it stayed like that for about 20 minutes. It was a chilly day, and I confess I thought about giving up and leaving for the warmth of my home several times before any birds showed up.
Finally, a chickadee flitted up to the feeder, and all my excitement about birdwatching came rushing back. More chickadees showed up quickly, along with some tufted titmice and a goldfinch.
After a few more minutes even more birds started showing up, including downy woodpeckers, a red-bellied woodpecker, a sparrow, blue jays, a whole bunch of cardinals and several other species we haven’t identified yet.
At one point, we counted around 30 cardinals all visible at the same time — it was completely amazing. We wound up staying in the blind for two hours, with birds coming and going the whole time.
A few days after our first visit, we decided to head back out for some more birdwatching. This time, we were a little smarter and snuck into the bird blind quietly. There were already a bunch of birds at the feeders as we snuck in, and while they initially flew off, they returned within less than five minutes.
This time, we saw some more cardinals, chickadees, titmice and a squirrel. We also got to see four wild turkeys as we drove out to the refuge, and we spotted a group of deer as we were leaving.
Visiting the bird blind and the wildlife refuge is a great way to enjoy nature and I’d recommend it to everyone. Directions and info about the refuge and the bird blind are available at www.ckwr.org.
If you go, I have several tips from my experiences:
- The birds are aware of you before you’re aware of them. Be as quiet as you can so you don’t scare them off. Even being quiet, you’ll probably have to wait at least a few minutes before the birds are comfortable coming back to the area.
- Visit the blind earlier in the day while the sun is out if you want to take photos. The one-way windows act like tinted sunglasses. The first time we visited the blind, it was the middle of the day and it was bright enough that we could take photos through the tinted windows. The second time we visited it was close to sundown and there wasn’t enough light left for photos once we were behind the tinted glass.
- Be patient and watchful. It may be a long time before any wildlife shows up, but when it does it will be worth every moment you waited.
Amanda’s Animal Fact of the Week
Kingfishers in the arctic dive into holes in the ice to catch fish. In one day they can capture about 80 small fish.