Learn to Identify North Texas Birds


American robin (Turdus migratorius) in backyard bushes, looking for berries before freezing winter storm in North Texas. | Image by Leena Robinson, Shutterstock

North Texans who want to learn how to identify regional birds will have multiple chances in 2023, with the first falling on January 7. Called “Little Sits,” the meetings are held at the Hagerman National Wildlife Refuge (NWR), North Texas E News reported.

Groups meet once a month with a bird identifier who can point out the various species that are spotted. There is no charge for attending the meetings. 

These events were inspired by Cornell’s national “Big Sit” event, according to the Friends of Hagerman NWR website. They take place on Hagerman NWR’s west side. 

“Come and enjoy the beautiful sunrise over Lake Texoma while learning how to identify the birds of North Texas,” the website shares. “Modeled after Cornell’s national “Big Sit” event, a group of dedicated birders invite you to join them at sunrise to perform a bird count as multiple species fly to the water to feed. They meet on the water’s edge at H-Pad at Hagerman National Wildlife Refuge on the First Saturday of every month. This event begins 30 minutes before sunrise and lasts a couple of hours, but all are welcome to come and go as they please. Participants are advised to bring a chair, binoculars and water.”

The data on the birds observed is entered into eBird after each “Sit,” according to North Texas E-News. The eBird website comes from the Cornell Lab of Ornithology and collects information on bird habitat use, abundance, and distribution. 

“eBird data are stored across secure facilities, archived daily, and are freely accessible to anyone,” the website explains. “eBird data have been used in hundreds of conservation decisions and peer-reviewed papers, thousands of student projects, and help inform bird research worldwide.”

Even though the Little Sits can last for a few hours, participants are welcome to stay for a small portion of it. 

Those planning to attend a Little Sit are asked to register ahead of time, the website shares. 

Multiple bird species call the Hagerman NWR home. Some of these birds, according to the website, include American White Pelicans, Red-Shafted Northern Flickers, Red Tailed Hawks, and Painted Buntings. 

A bird census is taken every Tuesday. 

“Each Tuesday a team of expert birders, led by Master Naturalist Jack Chiles, takes a refuge bird census by recording the number of birds they encounter throughout the refuge,” the website shares. “They report their findings to the Cornell Lab of Ornithology for use in research.” 

There are over 300 species that pass through the refuge, according to the bird viewing guide. Some of them live there permanently, and others migrate to the refuge during the winter. 

The refuge and the events it offers are free and funded through donations. 

While the January 7 Little Sit is the first of the year, it will not be the last. Upcoming Sits will also be on February 4, March 4, April 1, May 6, and June 3. Each Little Sit begins at 6 in the morning. 

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