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Finding birds everywhere you go

My big year is well underway, and I have really enjoyed searching out birds in our area.

I have spotted some lovely turkey vultures near Soldiers Delight Natural Environmental Area in Reisterstown, as well as some bluebirds, warblers and killdeer right in my own backyard.

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Most times I have found new birds for my list have been while I was out enjoying nature on a hike or tending my garden.

However, it can also be fun to search for some rare birds if you want your big year list to grow.

I found a gorgeous pileated woodpecker while visiting the Cylburn Arboretum Association in Baltimore, as well as a group of great horned owlets while visiting my friend Kari in Frederick.

It's amazing how many different species of birds there are right here in Maryland.

Working on this big year has caused me to develop a greater appreciation for wildlife in our area and beyond. Sometimes life can become rather busy, and finding the time to enjoy the outdoors can be difficult.

But with summer break fast approaching, I know many of you have some fun vacations planned for your family.

With the warm weather and free time, it is inevitable that there will be lots of time spent outdoors. During your trip you could take some time to observe birds native to the area.

Prior to my recent trip to Mexico with my family, I did a little research on the birds local to the region we were visiting. I visited avibase.bsc-eoc.org/ to find birds native to Cozumel, Mexico.

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The website gave me not only a list of the common, rare and threatened bird species found in Mexico, but also provided a photograph, detailed species information and a recording of the sound each bird makes.

By the time I arrived at the island, I was prepared with a list of birds to look for, as well as common locations at which they could be found.

One of my favorite parts of the trip was a Jeep tour of Cozumel island. During the tour we got to visit some remote beaches and wetlands, as well as some historical sites.

I told our guide I was looking for birds native to the region to add to my big year list and I was amazed at how much knowledge he had about the local wildlife.

Having lived in Cozumel his entire life, he was extremely familiar with the birds of the region and was even able to take me to locations he had seen the birds nesting in the past.

Many vacation spots might even have bird/wildlife sighting tours in which tourists can participate.

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There also might be state parks or wildlife reserves in the area to visit.

We are headed to Ocean City in July for a week and are hoping to take a detour to visit Blackwater National Wildlife Refuge in Cambridge. A bald eagle and her young are nesting there and would make a wonderful addition to my big year list.

There is also a birding tour on Assateague Island near Ocean City that will lead you to various local waterfowl and migrating shorebirds that you would not usually be able to see inland.

No matter where you are headed for your summer vacation, there is sure to be local wildlife to observe and enjoy.

By doing some research ahead of time and talking to local residents about wildlife in the region, you will be sure to enjoy and learn about many new types of birds and be able to see them in their natural habitats.

Make sure you pack your camera, binoculars, a backpack for water and your notebook so you will be prepared when you spot your vacation birds.

Kelly Scible is a Reisterstown resident and can be reached via email at kellyscible@gmail.com.

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