January 6, 2011

January Bird-Watching or Listening

I never realized that this part of the Shawnee National Forest was home to such a vast number of bird species until some years ago, Japanese visitors came here armed with books, digital cameras, tripods, and binoculars.  They chose to visit Southern Illinois in order to catalogue the most species of North American birds in the shortest space of time.  They found eagles, hawks, buzzards, wild turkeys, owls, cardinals, robins, purple martins, three species of blue birds, wrens, finches, herons, egrets, and many more.  Once can learn a lot from visitors, and as they packed to travel all the way back to Tokyo, they told me that bird-watching is the fastest-growing hobby worldwide. 

We have friends, Martha and John Schwegman, who are in love with the natural world and members of the John J. Audubon Society.  Martha is a proponent of bird listening.  On any given day, one can here calls of at least 50 different birds from the deck of The Irish Inn.  Martha's method involves identifying the species of bird by its call, and then writing notes about it -- where it was heard, other sounds, describe the environment, weather, time of day, your impressions.  A young visitor has gone further to record the bird calls onto his computer.

Bird identification is a wonderful hobby and peaceful pursuit for people of all ages, and the Shawnee National Forest is a great place to start!  To book a holiday at The Irish Inn call (618) 695-3355.  The photos below were captured since Christmas by Michelle Rositch to give you an idea of the rich variety of bird life here.  These bird images feature a fluttering chickadee, soaring bald eagle, and cardinal courtship.



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