Posted by: DarkEyedJunc0 | March 13, 2013

Birding at Dusk

I have come to learn good birders don’t just use binoculars .. they use all their senses!

If you ever want to experience an exercise where you use all your senses, go birding at dusk or even at night.

This past weekend, RF and I headed to the Great Swamp with the Fyke Nature Association’s annual Woodcock walk.

If you have never experienced the courting ritual of the American Woodcock, you are missing a neat experience.

At dusk, observers line up and listen for the moment when the “peent peent” calls begin. After a series of peents, the Male Woodcock ascends, making a whistling noise, and a series of chirps in descent. Observers often play a game of trying to follow the whole flight, using sound to locate a tiny speck in a darkening sky.

While waiting for the show, you never know what you will hear… Great Horned Owls hooting (when you hear two, the lower pitched one is the female,) the whistling of duck’s wings as they hurry home to their roosting site.










Other times, you never know what you will BARELY see….On this particular evening, we were gifted with the silhouette of a large Owl (most likely Great Horned) flying down the path silently past us.

On other occasions, I have experienced the whinnying of a Screech Owl, the clapping of a Clapper Rail, the Kedick Kedick of a Virginia Rail, the flight call of a Cuckoo species, not to mention the maniacal calls of Whipporwills and Chuck-wills-widows.

If you are lucky enough to be in the path of migration at night, you may hear flight calls and chips of moving birds.

It is true that your senses are heightened when you don’t have the benefit of golden lighting and great optics, and I recommend the experience of dusk or night birding for birders of all experience.  I guarantee, it is a very different experience.



I wish you good birding – be it day or night!


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