The unexpected joys of bird-watching

first_img You have entered an incorrect email address! Please enter your email address here The UCF Forum is a weekly series of opinion columns presented by UCF Communications & Marketing. A new column is posted each Wednesday at http://today.ucf.edu, republished on The Apopka Voice, then broadcast between 7:50 and 8 a.m. Sunday on WUCF-FM (89.9). The columns are the opinions of the writers, who serve on the UCF Forum panel of faculty members, staffers and students for a year. TAGSBirdwatchingUCF Forum Previous articleApopka Police Department Arrest ReportNext articleLake Apopka Natural Gas District honors employees on fourth annual Natural Gas Utility Workers’ Day Denise Connell RELATED ARTICLESMORE FROM AUTHOR The Anatomy of Fear Please enter your name here Share on Facebook Tweet on Twitter Free webinar for job seekers on best interview answers, hosted by Goodwill June 11 center_img LEAVE A REPLY Cancel reply By Michele Gregoire Gill/UCF Forum columnistFeed the birds, tuppence a bag, Tuppence, tuppence, tuppence a bag“Feed the birds,” that’s what she cries While overhead, her birds fill the skies – From the movie Mary Poppins, song by Sherman & ShermanAs I write this, there’s a male goldfinch pecking at the feeder outside my home office window. A cardinal perches nearby, cracking safflower seeds. And tiny chipping sparrows dart in and out of my cage feeder. Earlier, a red-bellied woodpecker selected a whole peanut and flew off across the yard with its prize.Watching these birds brings such light and joy to me and my family. My boys have become birding enthusiasts. Ryan, my 10-year-old, diligently checks off what birds we’ve seen in his favorite bird guide. Aaron, now 15, became interested in photography last year due to his love of watching birds flock to our many feeders. He now asks me to take him to walk birding trails on the weekends. These are boys who are generally obsessed with playing video games.I am so grateful to see how this newfound love of watching birds has led to them wanting to go outside more and to a love and appreciation of the natural world. Their delight in seeing a new or rare bird come to our feeder is unparalleled.When I woke one day recently, Ryan couldn’t wait to tell me about the pileated woodpeckers he saw before we all got up. Aaron sometimes sets his alarm early on the weekends to lie in the chaise lounge by the front bay window and watch the birds flock there.It’s amazing to me that birds even come to these feeders. It feels like pure grace, especially because when we first started with one lonely feeder hung from a metal shepherd’s crook, no birds immediately came. I thought my boys would quickly grow bored waiting and waiting for something to show up at our little feeder.We did get a lizard living inside our birdhouse, which entertained for a little while. Still, no birds. Until one day, there were! A titmouse came to the feeder and quickly darted away. We marveled at it, sneaking outside to see it closer. We laughed at its mechanical bark that seemed to yell at us. We waited by the window every morning to see if one would come back. And it did!And then cardinals popped by. And the ever-present mourning doves.Last year, we got to see a whole cycle of life at our feeder. First, the summer birds came: cardinals, mourning doves, titmice, and sometimes flocks of blackbirds and grackles. Due to our study of birds and their food preferences, we now had a variety of bird food and feeders which we changed with the seasons.As the late fall approached, chipping sparrows clustered on our millet feeder, and goldfinches congregated on the nyjer seed cylinder. We were sometimes graced with the rare bird, a downy woodpecker, a sharp-skinned hawk, a house finch. Chickadees and wrens visited too.The boys marveled at how at first the goldfinches didn’t look very gold, and female cardinals were dull indeed. And then, the seasons subtly changed, and the birds’ color became more vibrant. We watched as the goldfinches became more and more yellow until the males were absolutely radiant with color. We watched cardinals feed each other (“They are mating!” my youngest son exclaimed, as he correctly identified the early stage of bird courtship behavior.) We saw birds dance together in midair. And then, a month or two later, juvenile birds appeared at the feeder, with coloring different than their parents.I learned all of this through my kids’ eyes, and now I reap the benefits as I type this with birds as my companion and continual entertainment. But it didn’t come easy, this birding life. We waited months before any birds came to our feeder. We had to experiment and try new seed and different feeders.The boys peppered the owner of the local birding store with questions. We bought a bird bath. We changed out the seed every time it became moldy. We cleaned the feeders regularly; well, that was mostly me. But the boys helped install the feeder systems and did much of the bird research for us.And we waited. And hoped. And kept learning. And now we have a variety of birds at our feeders; birds that change with weather, the time of year, and their stage of life.It’s so easy for me to get caught up in the world of instant gratification. Birding has taught me the joys of being still. Of watching and waiting. Of getting outside with my kids. Of the rhythms of the seasons. And of the miraculous beauty and grace of the natural world.So, I encourage you to join me in feeding your neighborhood birds. It’s more than a tuppence a bag nowadays, but the rewards are priceless.Michele Gregoire Gill is program coordinator of the University of Central Florida’s education doctorate in curriculum and instruction and is a professor of educational psychology in the Department of Learning Sciences and Educational Research. She can be reached at [email protected] Please enter your comment! Support conservation and fish with NEW Florida specialty license plate Save my name, email, and website in this browser for the next time I comment.,By Michele Gregoire Gill/UCF Forum columnistFeed the birds, tuppence a bag, Tuppence, tuppence, tuppence a bag“Feed the birds,” that’s what she cries While overhead, her birds fill the skies – From the movie Mary Poppins, song by Sherman & ShermanAs I write this, there’s a male goldfinch pecking at the feeder outside my home office window. A cardinal perches nearby, cracking safflower seeds. And tiny chipping sparrows dart in and out of my cage feeder. Earlier, a red-bellied woodpecker selected a whole peanut and flew off across the yard with its prize.Watching these birds brings such light and joy to me and my family. My boys have become birding enthusiasts. Ryan, my 10-year-old, diligently checks off what birds we’ve seen in his favorite bird guide. Aaron, now 15, became interested in photography last year due to his love of watching birds flock to our many feeders. He now asks me to take him to walk birding trails on the weekends. These are boys who are generally obsessed with playing video games.I am so grateful to see how this newfound love of watching birds has led to them wanting to go outside more and to a love and appreciation of the natural world. Their delight in seeing a new or rare bird come to our feeder is unparalleled.When I woke one day recently, Ryan couldn’t wait to tell me about the pileated woodpeckers he saw before we all got up. Aaron sometimes sets his alarm early on the weekends to lie in the chaise lounge by the front bay window and watch the birds flock there.It’s amazing to me that birds even come to these feeders. It feels like pure grace, especially because when we first started with one lonely feeder hung from a metal shepherd’s crook, no birds immediately came. I thought my boys would quickly grow bored waiting and waiting for something to show up at our little feeder.We did get a lizard living inside our birdhouse, which entertained for a little while. Still, no birds. Until one day, there were! A titmouse came to the feeder and quickly darted away. We marveled at it, sneaking outside to see it closer. We laughed at its mechanical bark that seemed to yell at us. We waited by the window every morning to see if one would come back. And it did!And then cardinals popped by. And the ever-present mourning doves.Last year, we got to see a whole cycle of life at our feeder. First, the summer birds came: cardinals, mourning doves, titmice, and sometimes flocks of blackbirds and grackles. Due to our study of birds and their food preferences, we now had a variety of bird food and feeders which we changed with the seasons.As the late fall approached, chipping sparrows clustered on our millet feeder, and goldfinches congregated on the nyjer seed cylinder. We were sometimes graced with the rare bird, a downy woodpecker, a sharp-skinned hawk, a house finch. Chickadees and wrens visited too.The boys marveled at how at first the goldfinches didn’t look very gold, and female cardinals were dull indeed. And then, the seasons subtly changed, and the birds’ color became more vibrant. We watched as the goldfinches became more and more yellow until the males were absolutely radiant with color. We watched cardinals feed each other (“They are mating!” my youngest son exclaimed, as he correctly identified the early stage of bird courtship behavior.) We saw birds dance together in midair. And then, a month or two later, juvenile birds appeared at the feeder, with coloring different than their parents.I learned all of this through my kids’ eyes, and now I reap the benefits as I type this with birds as my companion and continual entertainment. But it didn’t come easy, this birding life. We waited months before any birds came to our feeder. We had to experiment and try new seed and different feeders.The boys peppered the owner of the local birding store with questions. We bought a bird bath. We changed out the seed every time it became moldy. We cleaned the feeders regularly; well, that was mostly me. But the boys helped install the feeder systems and did much of the bird research for us.And we waited. And hoped. And kept learning. And now we have a variety of birds at our feeders; birds that change with weather, the time of year, and their stage of life.It’s so easy for me to get caught up in the world of instant gratification. Birding has taught me the joys of being still. Of watching and waiting. Of getting outside with my kids. Of the rhythms of the seasons. And of the miraculous beauty and grace of the natural world.So, I encourage you to join me in feeding your neighborhood birds. It’s more than a tuppence a bag nowadays, but the rewards are priceless.Michele Gregoire Gill is program coordinator of the University of Central Florida’s education doctorate in curriculum and instruction and is a professor of educational psychology in the Department of Learning Sciences and Educational Research. She can be reached at [email protected]last_img read more

Media monitoring resumes as second-round campaign gets under way

first_img Organisation News Reports Côte d’IvoireAfrica Help by sharing this information Threats against journalists in run-up to Côte d’Ivoire’s presidential election Follow the news on Côte d’Ivoire News to go further Receive email alerts The 2020 pandemic has challenged press freedom in Africacenter_img Côte d’IvoireAfrica RSF_en When the campaign for the second round of Côte d’Ivoire’s presidegntial election officially gets under way tomorrow, Reporters Without Borders will begin the second phase of its monitoring of the state and privately-owned media’s campaign coverage as part of a European Union project for the “Protection of media pluralism at election time.”The first phase of the monitoring began on 15 October and ran until two days before the first round. The second phase will finish on 26 November, two days before the run-off election between the head of The Presidential Majority (LMP), incumbent President Laurent Gbagbo, and the head of the Houphouëtiste Rally for Democracy and Peace (RHDP), Alassane Ouattara.Reporters Without Borders is concerned to see that, during the run-up to the official start of the second-round campaign, several newspapers have revived story subjects and slogans that are likely to fuel tension. More space has been given to ethnic issues and to allegations that one or other of the candidates wants to “destabilize” Côte d’Ivoire.The press freedom organization urges the National Press Council to continue to exercise the utmost vigilance in order to prevent matters getting out of hand and to ensure that the election campaign is covered in a responsible manner that respects journalistic ethics and the rules of media conduct.Reporters Without Borders has also noticed during this period that La Première (the main state-owned TV station) and La Nationale (the main state-owned radio station) have been displaying a strong bias in favour of President Gbagbo and his allies in terms of both the quantity and the quality of their coverage.The organization reminds the two stations that, as public service broadcasters, they are required to remain entirely neutral during the elections and urges them to take immediate steps to ensure respect for directives issued by the National Broadcasting Council (CNCA) calling for the two candidates to be covered in an equitable way.Reporters Without Borders does however welcome the CNCA’s decision to organize a debate between Gbagbo and Ouattara on La Première and La Nationale and encourages the CNCA to exercise its role as regulator with the utmost impartiality.See the findings of the media monitoring during the campaign for the first round MissionReporters Without Borders began monitoring the Ivorian media on 15 October and will continue to do so until the end of the presidential election. Its quantitative and qualitative monitoring is being carried out in Abidjan by a team of observers, who are evaluating the air-time that the public radio and TV stations allocate to the political parties and movements participating in the election. They are also evaluating the space allocated by the public-service daily Fraternité Matin and a number of privately-owned dailies. The aim is to ensure respect for the principle of fairness in the state media and balance in the privately-owned media.MethodologyReporters Without Borders is observing and measuring the air-time that the candidates get in all the French-language programmes relating to the elections on the state-owned TV station La Première and the state-owned radio station La Nationale. As regards the print media, it is measuring and comparing the column space that each candidate and their supporters and allies get in the public-service daily Fraternité Matin and in a number of privately-owned dailies: Le Nouveau Réveil, Le Patriote and Notre Voie during the first-round campaign, and L’Intelligent d’Abidjan, Soir Info and Nord-Sud during the second-round campaign. It is also carrying out a qualitative evaluation of the tone used by the journalists and media in their references to the candidates. News October 16, 2020 Find out more October 29, 2020 Find out more RSF’s recommendations for protecting press freedom during Côte d’Ivoire’s elections November 27, 2020 Find out more November 19, 2010 – Updated on January 20, 2016 Media monitoring resumes as second-round campaign gets under waylast_img read more