Prep-Up With a Printable Summer Bird Chart

In anticipation of the upcoming Christmas Bird Count (19 December 2021), I brought you some essential resources to get you out and birding to participate in this essential citizen science event next year!

Ever wonder how birders can stand still, eyes closed against the numinous dank of an Ozark canopy, then scribble down a dozen different species and where they are on a map? Good. I knew you'd get it *fist bump*. This is how: Until we have practiced our bird song identification in the field with our feet on the ground and our heads awash with twitters and chirps, we use a chart like the one at the bottom of this post.

Take it with you in the late spring and summer months as you bushwhack your way through the Midwestern states of Alabama, Arkansas, Indiana, Illinois, Iowa, Kentucky, Louisiana, Michigan, Minnesota, Mississippi, Missouri, Ohio, Tennessee, and Wisconsin, as well as the Canadian provinces of Saskatchewan, Manitoba, and Ontario. These are known as the Mississippi Flyway. For the purpose of this resource, song birds (passerines) migrating to Central and South America during the bitter cold seasons overtaking their Northern climes in winter, are dubbed neo-tropical migrants.

Those neo-tropical passerines passing through the Mississippi Flyway include more than the 44 species covered in this handy-dandy chart, but these are a solid foot to leap off from when wetting your boots in identifying summer birds by song. The four digit alpha codes are used for researchers to shorthand their species names, and nesting habits are largely for studies like the ones on-going in Central Missouri forests. The Missouri Ozark Forest and Ecosystem Project (MOFEP) is a prime example. Photos featured here are from my time working with MOFEP or similar projects in the region.

Up in Duluth, MN, the Hawk Ridge Bird Observatory boasts migrations rarely seen elsewhere on Earth (but seriously!) and many of the species covered in this chart are also present as they flutter to-and-fro in their global transitions. We are nearly through the final days of our 2021 calendar year, which is a great time to set yourself up with winter study projects, like familiarizing yourself with the orchestra of bird songs passing over our heads from April through August 2022. Plenty of resources are free and downloadable for learning birds songs, too! There's, the stately Cornell Bird Lab, Audubon Society, and I am sure whatever local branch of bird enthusiasts your area hosts.

Go forth and get cozy with your bird chart, use it as a reference list to tally up your annual species list, catch a few in the lens of your phone's camera, or set out a clean and healthy bird feeder for the little guys and gals. The world is your mollusk.

Happy (Bird) Hounding!


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