Michael's Rediscovery of Nature

Ramblings and observations of a former biologist and a lifelong naturalist, who has recently returned to his roots in east Texas. After a many years of working from coast to coast in an industry far removed from biology, it has been a pleasant change of geography, activity, and attitude. No stressful job decked out in a three piece suit. No city living. Instead there is a rediscovery of the woods, of something scurrying through the leaves, of the clear notes of a bird call, and of reliving the joy that I had when nature was a playground and a classroom.

Birding is HOT During the Summer - Is that a cliche?

Summer is not really the most popular time for birding in East Texas. There are likely two reasons for that.

First and not surprisingly, East Texas summers are HOT. That definitely affects us birders. It really is not quite as much fun to get out in the woods when the temperature is in the 90's and the humidity close to the steam setting. 

RedBelliedWoodpeckerMale012818 2 1The second factor is due to the birds themselves. By the time that the summer heat arrives, the Spring migrators have mostly gone further north, leaving just the local species - the ones that we are mostly used to seeing. Of course, they aren't crazy about the heat either.

Most birds are almost as adversely affected by heat as humans. They don't have the option of staying in under the cool breeze from an air conditioner but they have their own version of it. 

The hotter it gets, the more birds will lower their activities and stay in shaded areas. Naturally, they are much harder to observe in these locations. That makes birding in the summer challenging but not impossible.

Birds have a high metabolism which means they require a lot of food each day. So, they must be active for at least some part of the day. It doesn't take too much thought to realize that if they are adverse to heat, then they are going probably going to be more active in the cooler part of the day. 

Most birds will begin to feed with the first light of day. This is especially true during the summer. By getting out as the sun is rising, you can often find a surprising number of species. This usually doesn't last long for as soon as the temperature rises, the activity level drops off. You might only get in a couple of hours of decent birding. 

But there is another occasion that you should be ready to take advantage of when it occurs.

Even during the summer, there are mornings that are cloudy, rainy, and considerably cooler than normal. Those days, as long as it is not actively raining, can be exceptional for birding.  

Keep a watch for those mornings and make sure you take advantage of them. Just like us, birds enjoy these cool mornings and are quick to take advantage of them. 

Even in Texas, birding can be a year-round activity. Knowing more about the natural history and behavior of birds will always make you a better birder. Don't let the heat of summer keep you away from all the fun. 

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Tuesday, 18 December 2018
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