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Bird, Bird, Bird — Bird is the word — And it’s also an App

By Paul Viau | Jul 23, 2014
Photo by: File Photo APP-SOLUTELY BEAUTIFUL — Inspired by a surprise visit from a pair of indigo buntings, we used our iPhones to identify and 'call' them back for a return visit.

For as long as men and women have been on the earth, they have been fascinated by birds. The earliest cave men watched the sky to make sure they weren’t swept away and eaten by menacing pterodactyls.

A few million years later, Middle Ages men used falcons (a much smaller version of the pterodactyl) for hunting, inspiring a new trade — heavy-leather glove making.

By the way, I have to give credit to my brother, Rob, whose childhood fascination with paleontology rubbed off on me — just enough that I actually spelled the word pterodactyl correctly — without cheating and looking it up on Google.

Most recently, Rob’s (and my) love of beer has been the focus of several columns. This week I want to make a departure and give a shout out to all the bird watchers (aka birders) in our area. They may not remember the 1960s doo-wop group, The Rivingtons, who gave us such memorable songs as, “The Bird is the Word” and “Papa Oom Mow Mow.” Maybe that’s a good thing.

This summer my wife and I have been “deck sitting” (and bird watching) with the help of the many birding apps available to iPhone and Android phone users.

You don’t have to be so ‘smart’ to be a bird watcher — I’m testament to that — but you do need a Smartphone.

Our iPhone Apps include, Peterson’s “Back Yard Birds” “BirdSongId” and “The Sibley e-Guide to the Birds of North America.”

These are very basic and inexpensive apps, but they help us identify the birds coming to our feeders. These apps also allow us to play recorded birdsongs, so we know what other birds are hanging around the area.

To our surprise and delight, playing the birdsongs also attracts the birds — which I just discovered is not such a good thing to do, especially during that bird species’ breeding season.

As a matter of fact, on the front page of Sibley eGuide, there is a friendly reminder for all users:

“Please consider the birds and other birders before playing audio recordings in the field.”

This is to remind you that playing the recording of a bird’s call, especially in breeding season, may be harmful if done near the bird in question. And may be illegal in some National Parks. And is always illegal for endangered species. And it will annoy other birders. So just don’t do it, ok?

Hopefully, we didn’t upset or frighten the beautiful pair of Indigo Buntings that visited our feeders in late spring. Peterson’s “Back Yard Birds” helped us identify the Buntings and to summon them to return a few days later.

Lately, other than cardinals, woodpeckers, finches, titmouses, Carolina Wrens and chickadees, bird watching has been uneventful at the Viau house. It’s time I visited Pleasant Places in downtown Waynesville for a more tantalizing birdseed blend.

My ultimate goal is to attract birds that sing doo-wop — “Papa Oom Mow Mow, Papa Oom Mow Mow.” Maybe I should “Tweet” for birds on Twitter.

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