In my twenties, I worked for two summers as a field researcher in Michigan and North Carolina. My job was studying Indigo Buntings, finding their nests, catching and banding the adults, as well as the young.
But if you use your ears and knowledge of bird behavior, the job becomes much easier. Birds get upset when you’re near their nests. Depending on the species, they made chirp wildly, flit about, or get downright aggressive (Gulls will dive bomb and poop on you).
Paying attention to bird behavior is how I stumbled upon this fantastic Cooper’s hawk and her nest full of babies. I noticed her because of the cacophony of smaller birds, upset by her presence. She was perched above the trail, examining me, and did not take flight as raptors usually do. That was the tip off.
I looked around. Deep in the scrub oak, twenty feet off the ground, sat her nest. A nestling looked back at me, then another.
I was reminded again that the key to winning the wilderness lottery (seeing stuff, having cool moments) means following the ‘Can’t win if you don’t play’ mantra. It’s directly proportional to the amount of time you spend out there and the attention you bring to it.
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Yellow bellied Marmot
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Red winged Blackbird
Broad Tailed Hummingbird
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Great Horned Owl