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imgA thing or two with
Nature Club Birding SIG

By Martin Byhower

Birding is by many accounts the most popular outdoor activity in the country; this may explain why the Nature Club Birding SIG has been popular in Sun City since 1998! Co-chairs Ed Rozenburg and I lead bird walks along Berry Creek twice a month. It is not unusual to see 35 or 40 of the approximately 180 species that have been documented here in Sun City. Every walk is different! Our bimonthly meetings have become so well-attended that we have recently moved to the Activities Center Atrium to accommodate our enthusiastic attendees. Some of our speakers are Sun City residents who share their experiences and photos of birds from all around the world; we also have knowledgeable outside speakers present programs for the group.

Our members run the gamut, from experienced lifelong birders to those who have recently taken up the hobby. Some are backyard birders, and some like to get involved in bird-related activities and conservation.
We maintain a number of bluebird, screech-owl and wood duck boxes along Berry Creek Trail and a Purple Martin tower in Legacy Hills Park.

Since 2008 the Birding SIG has sponsored the Georgetown-Andice Christmas Bird Count (CBC) each December. This bird census is part of a national citizen-science effort that has established a data base to track changes in bird abundance and distribution during the winter months. Each regional CBC occurs on specified days, across the continent, during about a two-week window before or after Christmas Day. If you would like to participate, you can do so, even with very limited birding knowledge or experience! You can either go out in the field with us and help us spot birds or record data, or sit at home and watch your feeders, screech-owl nest boxes and so on. If you want to participate, please contact Ed Rozenberg,
birded78@suddenlink.net.

Almost everyone likes birds! Birding offers an excuse to get outdoors, connect with nature, and for a while, forget about personal and global problems. It's a bridge to connect with others who love nature and the natural world. It can be an active sport, appealing to the hunter-gatherer or collector in us, but without the kill or harvest. All we collect are sightings or photographs. Birding allows one to compete with others or, more often, one's self, while strengthening one's observational skills. And for some of us, at times, it's a peaceful and life-affirming, even spiritual pursuit.

There are two approaches to birding that are equally pleasurable and productive. They are based on the two styles of predation employed by wild natural predators. The first is "pursuit birding," which involves walking along looking for birds. Then there is "sit and wait" birding, which is exactly that; simply sitting around and waiting for the birds to come to you. The latter is employed by backyard – or front yard – birders. Personally, I like to do both.

And birding is by no means strictly visual. I do a lot of "birding by ear," as do many blind birders, who often document more species than sighted ones! Every call or song you hear a bird make means something. Decoding what they are saying is half the fun!

Our bird walks are for everyone, regardless of experience or physical ability. We set off at a very comfortable pace on the third Wednesday and first Thursday of each month. Come join us in the parking lot at the Legacy Hills pavilion at 8 a.m. Or perhaps come to our meetings, which are in the Activities Center Atrium, every other month on the first Tuesday at 2:30 p.m. At our activities you can always pick up one of our recently revised checklists of all the birds in Sun City. If you are a member of the Nature Club you automatically get all the meeting announcements and popular bird walk reports.