For episode 48 of Siren Soapbox, the sirens challenged ourselves to learn 10 local birds by sight and sound, and keep track of what we saw and heard for a day.
And – since it’s October (the month of Halloween) – we decided to get a well-rounded bird experience (love and fear), by watching Alfred Hitchcock’s classic, “The Birds.”
Birds have been a part of lore throughout history – representing everything from peace (the dove) to death (the raven). Here’s a short article about the birds of Halloween folklore: Crows (malicious tricksters), ravens (“Once upon a midnight dreary”), owls (gods of death), and vultures (eaters of the dead). If this puts you in the mood for a good Halloween bird story, check out The Crow (where the bird is the good guy).
But you don’t need a movie to see a bird in action – birds are right outside your door, no matter where you are! Or are they?
One goal of Siren Soapbox is to design explorations and challenges that can be done (even if slightly altered) from anywhere in the world. This isn’t always easy to do, and sometimes you might THINK something can be done everywhere only because you are so accustomed to what is available in your area.
In order to provide some solid ideas for exploring birds from anywhere in the world, I did a little research to discover if birds are, in fact, found everywhere in the world. I mean, there are state birds and national birds, so they must be everywhere, right?
Birdlife International claims that, while there are fewer birds in some countries than others, birds are found almost everywhere in the world (from the poles to the equator). If you are interested in becoming a citizen scientist and helping to collect data about how many and what types of birds are in your area, check out Audubon’s Christmas Bird Count and get involved!
Some interesting facts about birds:
- Canada does not have a national bird (there is a movement to have the Canada Jay named the national bird, but it hasn’t happened yet).
- In 1949, the Chinese government launched a campaign to rid the country of birds (this had a negative impact on crops because insects flourished).
- Speaking of China, did you know that they have bird-shaped drones that help them with surveillance?
- Disney theme parks have many practices in place to keep areas of their parks as bird-free as possible (shhh…don’t tell Donald, Daisy, Iago, Scuttle, Zazu, Heihei, or any of the other Disney birds we all know and love).
- Benjamin Franklin did not support choosing the Bald Eagle as the United States’ National bird – he favored the Wild Turkey.
- Flamingos are born grey or white; their color as adults is derived from pigments found in their foods. Flamingos are found in many different colors. We all know about pink, but did you know there are blue, black, yellow, and other colors?
- A duck’s quack does not echo…anywhere! (Or maybe that’s a myth).
Are you ready to learn more about birds yet? We recommend starting with the birds right in your backyard! It doesn’t have to cost anything…just time, quiet, and stillness. Or, you can add a few resources to enrich your experience (guide books and apps, binoculars, etc).
If getting out in the great big wilderness is not your thing, but you still want a bird experience, check out the game Wingspan.
It turns out the whole word is “for the birds.” Go explore our feathered friends, they are abundant, easy to find, and fascinating (not to mention, mostly cute)!