(5) Don't accept other people's I.D.'s
out of hand. This is tied closely to #4.
If you are content to accept other people',s
identifications, you become little more
than a name collector, and you might as
well collect stamps. In our brave new
world of listing, far too many people have
taken this role. The game is much more
enjoyable if you know the bird yourself
(6) Use your ears as well as your eyes.
Just as looking at common birds helps you
to learn rarer ones, so listening to them
helps in the same manner. Excellent
recordings are now available of almost all
North American birds. Study them as you
would a field guide, in your spare time.
A well-trained ear may be responsible for
your finding a rarity. The only U.T.C.
record of Western Wood Pewee was the
result of such an event when Jim Morgan
and Ted Eubanks utilized Morgan's familiarity with the call from previous trips
West to identify then locate the bird on
Bolivar. Two outstanding local ear-birders
are Noel Pettingell and Wes Cureton. In
the case of the former, I would judge 80%
of Noel's bird finding is done purely by
ear. I birded with Wes on the El Naranjo
Christmas Count last year and did not see
him with his hands out of his pockets for
the first hour or so (too cold I suppose);
yet he managed to identify 25 or 30 birds,
all correctly I might add, in an area he
had not birded extensively before. Two
of them turned out to be really good finds.
Later in the same day he found his lifer
Fan-tailed Warbler by hearing it first and
then searching it out.
(7) Don't shy away from the tough birds.
"I can never learn the sparrows." "Shore-
birds all look the same." How many times
have you said or heard something like that?
The truth is: the more difficult the bird
is to identify, the more fun it is to go
after. There is no shame or pain in being
perplexed. Every birder I know makes mistakes; the good ones admit them. The way
to approach those difficult families is to
learn one or two birds well, a tenet put
forth - number 1. If you learn to identify
the Red Knot, the Sanderling, the Long-
Billed Dowitcher and the Least Sandpiper,
you will end up knowing how to identify
practically all the shorebirds that show
up here. Know the Savannah Sparrow,
Lincoln's Sparrow and LeConte's Sparrow
and you have won the battle and eventually
the war. Familiarity does not breed contempt, it lengthens lists.
(8) Learn to associate birds and habitats.
It can save a lot of time in the long run.
Just as you would not dream of finding a
Willow Ptarmigan on Bolivar Flats, you will
not find a Grasshopper Sparrow in a marsh.
It helps to know that, it eliminates that
particular sparrow from the birds that
just came up off the wet ground ahead of
you. . <*
(9) Never stop birding. While attending
the Bluebonnet Bowl some years ago, I
. noticed a flock of Water Pipits sharing
Rice Stadium with the two teams involved.
The birds kept shifting away from the
action all afternoon. I soon had the
people immediately around me more interested in the birds than the game. I
really learned a lot about Water Pipits
that afternoon, especially concerning the
peculiarities of flight and "jizz". I saw
my lifer Swallow-tailed Kite while on my
way to shop in LaPorte. I was able to convert that rather boring chore into forty-
five minutes of Swallow-tailed Kite watching. On both these occasions I had binoculars handy.
These are a few suggestions that might
prove helpful if you feel the need for
improvement. Remember - don't give up.
Ten years ago Jim Morgan couldn't even
spell birds; now he leads field trips and
co-compiles the Freeport Count. If Jim
can do it, anybody can.
Send bird records for Clearing House before
3rd of the month to:
David Dauphin, 7315 Cottonwood Drive,
Baytown, 77521 383-3955
The Clearing House is a monthly record of bird sightings made on
the Upper Texas Coast. How to read the CH: Species: Location—(how
many)date,observers. Those common species which can be easily identified and are widely distributed in the UTC will also be listed,
followed by the number of reports, with the lowest and highest number of individuals seen in parenthesis, i.e. (l-40). Noteworthy
sightings will be underlined, capitalized, or both, according to
their status. All observations reported below must be accepted by
the Checklist Committee (Ben Feltner, Jim Morgan and Noel Pettingell) before they are considered valid and Included in the next
checklist. Sightings lacking details, when required, will not be included in the Clearing House. Submitters who forget details should
send their notes to a member of the Checklist Committee.
Loon, Common: 3 reports (1-12)
Grebe, Horned: E.Galv.—(5)28,A
Grebe, Eared: 4 reports (1-20)
Grebe, Pied-billedi 6 reports (l-25)
Pelican, Whitei 6 reports (2-100)
Cormorant, Double-crestedi 7 reports (1-300)
Cormorant, Olivaceoust 3 reports (1-10)
Anhingat 5 reports (l-4o)
Heron, Great Bluet 6 reports (1-35)
Heron, Green-backedi 3 reports (1-6)
Heron, Little Bluei 4 reports (1-10)
Egret, Cattlei 5 reports (2-500)
Egret, Reddishi Baytown—2(20),B
Egret, Greati 8 reports (1-50)
Egret, Snowy: 8 reports (1-15)
Heron, Trlooloredi 6 reports (1-10)
Night-Heron, Black-crownedi 5 reports (1-35)
Night-Heron, Yellow-crowned: 3 reports (1-13)
Bittern, American: Brazos Bend St. Park—(l)26,CG
Ibis, White-facedi 3 reports (l-5J>)
Ibis, Whitei 4 reports (1-50)
Spoonbill, Roseatei W.Chambers Go—(150)20,B
Goose, Canadai 5 reports (1-3000)
Goose, Greater White-frontedi 4 reports (15-15,000)
Goose, Snow: 7 reports (10-75,000)
Goose, Rossi W.Harris Co—(5)26,C
Whistling-Duck, Black-belliedi 4 reports (10-2.500)
Mallardi 4 reports (5-150)
Duck, Mottled: 8 reports (2-30)
Gadwalli 5 reports (5-50)
Pintail, Northerni 6 reports (4-
Teal, Green-winged: 5 reports (4-^
Teal, Blue-wingedt Brazos Bend St,
Teal, Cinnamoni 4 reports (1-12)
Wigeon, Americani 6 reports (1-30)
Shoveler, Northern! 6 reports (3-500)