Being on the Great Lakes flyway, Tippecanoe County has spring and fall winged visitors. It also has an active bird watching community, many of whom belong to Sycamore Audubon Society (link). In addition to supplies from big box stores, backyard birders have a resource in the locally owned Wild Bird Shoppe (link).
The two thing birders need to know: birds like to eat and they like to be safe while eating. Anywhere that has a source of food and shelter readily available becomes a bird viewing area. The trick becomes finding those sites, hence the creation of viewing areas.
If looking for a specific kind of bird, learn their habits. What do they eat? What kind of shelter do they need?
Judy, at the Wild Bird Shoppe, has a Wildlife Habitat Area (link) behind the shop. The backyard habitat there is a good example of an urban area for a personal viewing.
Apartment dwellers can be backyard birders as well. Retention ponds in apartment complexes often have geese, ducks and herons as well as the normal “city birds”.
Sycamore Audubon members’ programs and field trips are open to non-members and provide a good resource for beginners.
Bird viewing equipment can be minimal, a comfortable lawn chair, or more complex. A good identification book is essential. All of the local libraries carry such books, check some out and see which one is best for you. Peterson’s Guide, Birds of Indiana, Audubon’s bird book are all good options. Since most birds are wary, a good set of binoculars help. For shutter bugs, a camera with a 10x or higher zoom is a good rule of thumb for the “aim and shoot” camera.
There are a number of areas to view our feathered friends. In the next 4 parts I will list local and some not-so-local sites. I have divided birds into 3 division, woodland, water and prairie and note which kind you may see at that site.
Continued in part 2.