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Local Bird Populations and "The Birds of Fermilab"

If you are a birder yourself, or if your students study birds you may want to keep up to date on the local bird populations. If you're new to birding this may be of even more interest. This article discusses some local resources and includes some tips from a Fermilab expert birder on how to begin.

Peter Kasper, birding expert at Fermilab, and our featured physicist in this newsletter has an outstanding resource on the Internet, the Birds of Fermilab. If you have WWW access connect at: http://fnnews.fnal.gov/ecology/wildlife/list.html . Here Peter has reports of sightings of 252 species. The basis of the information on this site are two research periods during which Peter and Vicki Byre (while with the Chicago Academy of Sciences until 1990) logged their sightings over two five-year research periods, month by month. A graph of the number of species shows the change in number of species here over a calendar year. A Birder's Guide to Fermilab written by Denis Kania and Peter Kasper includes recommendations for when and at which locations on the Fermilab site certain species can be observed. You can click on the name of various birds and read a paragraph of information about the sightings and whether breeding and nesting occur here.

For new birders Peter recommends studying field guides to establish a knowledge and visual basis. Acquiring information about what to expect to see and what is common in the area will be a necessity. One needs to train oneself to know what to look for quickly when spotting birds. This will facilitate identification. This is where a visual basis will come in handy. When beginning, go with someone who knows. The DuPage Birding Club hosts field trips that could be a good introduction. The next meeting will be at Faith Lutheran Church in Glen Ellyn on September 14 at 7:30 pm. For more information call the DuPage Birding Club Hotline at 708-406-8111. This hotline has information about meetings, field trips and latest sightings. Two new book resources in the Teacher Resource Center include "Birds," by Barbara Taylor, a pocket guide from Dorling Kindersley (ISBN: 1-56458-661-8) 1995 which includes a section on bird watching. This book could be used with some intermediate students but certainly middle school through high school. For younger students, "Crinkleroot's Guide to Knowing the Birds," by Jim Arnosky from Bradbury Press (ISBN: 0-02-705857-3) 1992 will make a very readable introduction.

If you need more information on any of these resources contact the Teacher Resource Center at 708-840-8259.