We had a small but intrepid group at our Junior Ranger bird walk tonight. One of the cool parts was a junior ranger who showed up Bill Thompson's book: The Young Birder's Guide. She was workin' it too. Checking the birds off as she found them, double checking the info. This is an awesome book: It uses great photos (and fabulous illustrations by Julie Zickefoose) to illustrate birds. Each page contains basic information and some wow fact about birds. There's a section that helps you figure out which birds you will see in which habitat too. I don't think this book needs to be limited to just young birders, this is a great guide for any birder ready to graduate from the starter guides. The only thing that keeps it from being a perfect guide is that it encourages kids to dress like stereotypical birder. Kids, you don't have to wear a vest and floppy hat to go birding--resist the propaganda.
We didn't have huge amounts of birds, but we had some oh so cooperative cedar waxwings and robins. The best part of the evening came as we were ending the walk. We were going down the trail and the kids were finding lots of turkey feathers. I don't think anything sinister happened to a turkey, just typical molt feathers. I paused to listen for birds at an opening in the woods and noticed an odd piece of bark hanging in a tree, then I realized that the bark had a bird tail shape--wait a minute! That was a turkey sitting on a branch in the tree. I froze and whispered for all the kids to get behind me. There just above us, right off the trail was a turkey. As I pointed her out, a small second turkey poked its head up from under her wing, then another, and another--about five or six half sized turkey poults emerged from her body (that seems like it was a late nest). They atttempted to fly off the branches, suddenly, about six more adult sized turkeys burst from hidden corners higher in the tree. It was a whole roosting flock. I felt bad that the turkeys were disturbed from their roost, but then again, they chose to roost right off of a well traveled biking and hikin path in an urban area. They'll get over it, I'm thinkin'.
Thanks to everyone who came.