Mindful birding is a powerful practice that combines the joys of birdwatching with the benefits of mindfulness. Exposure to nature is linked to a host of benefits, including improved attention, lower stress, better mood, reduced risk of psychiatric disorders, and even an increase in empathy and cooperation.
One of my favorite quotes by Aldo Leopold in his book, A Sand County Almanac. A classic read for any upcoming wildlife biologist, nature-lover, or outdoors person. This quote reminds me of the well-known saying “leave it better than you found it”. A saying that had been engrained in me ever since I was just a kid playing in the river behind my house. I am fortunate that I grew up as an “outdoor kid”.
The first time meeting a bull I thought there should be much more care taken. We parked the pick-up in the two-lane adjacent to the white mound napping and chewing his cud. He didn’t move or glace our way as we approached. I walked equal to the rancher; if he was going in, I was, too.
On Sunday, March 13th, I saw my first Mountain Bluebird of the year. He was coming off the south fence of the northwestern pasture. He launched, dipped, then propelled making it to the opposite side to watch me travel on, my car having done more to move him than the cows, or even the coyotes could manage.
By my students’ calculations, we had spent over 50 hours trying to capture this particular Flammulated Owl, dating back two summers. Make no mistake—there have been many challenging owls to capture over the course of this 40-year demographic study, but this owl had drawn extra attention from the nine students working with me that summer, with its Houdini-esque tactics for evading capture at a nest cavity high in a quaking aspen.
From a young age, I felt a disconnect between our culture and nature. I was always curious about the natural world and wondered why anyone would want to study anything else. My father’s idealist view and respect for Indigenous people specifically inspired me. I longed to live more connected to the land, like the Indigenous people whose ways of life I had come to admire.
Update from the field! Seasonal Bird Conservancy banders are working in the Chihuahuan Desert this winter to tag non-breeding grassland birds for our Motus project. Read the blog to learn more about what they are doing and how it will aid in our efforts to help grasslands and the birds that call it their home.
Field Sketching, or Nature Journaling, is a method that can be used to connect with nature through first-hand observations. All you need is a view outside, a pencil, a piece of paper and an open mind.
Another summer in the Northern Great Plains has come and gone, now fleeting as quickly as it arrived. With it, the many birds who travel thousands of miles to call these grasslands home during the breeding season have begun to make the long journey back to their wintering grounds. For the many ranchers and farmers of eastern Montana, the work is not done.
Once a year each winter, dozens of volunteers congregate at Barr Lake State Park to dedicate their day to a singular purpose: tally every bird of every species seen within a 15-mile diameter circle centered on Barr Lake. This tradition has been taking place every year since 1980 at Barr Lake, but the origins of the Christmas Bird Count (CBC) go back much further.