Some Bird-Watching Basics

Dr. Marcilio is a psychiatrist with nearly four decades of professional experience. He currently sees clients in his private practice in Toronto, and he serves as a consultant psychiatrist for Frontenac Youth Services of Oshawa, Ontario. Dr. Milton Marcilio has many outside interests, including ornithology.

Ornithology, the study of birds, involves watching them. A functional set of binoculars is an important basic tool for bird watching. When trying to identify birds, many factors come into play. Color is a major factor, but it can be misleading, as light and shadow impact color perception. Each species of bird also has its own distinct patterns of behavior. Characteristic traits, once understood by the observer, can help to distinguish birds much more quickly. This is useful when light conditions are less than ideal, or when one is observing from afar.

Understanding habitat is also fundamental. One is likely to observe different kinds of birds in a city park than at the seashore. A bird’s particular flight pattern is also revealing; for instance, finches have a distinctive fluttering, bouncing pattern that differs from other small birds, such as sparrows, which tend to move in a straight formation. Above all else, a novice birdwatcher should start by accompanying someone with significant experience.

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