Words On Birds by Steve Grinley

Gifts Encourage Interest in Birds
November 25, 2017
By Steve Grinley

     The holiday shopping season has begun, so it must be time for my annual gift suggestions for the birders in your life. Now that bird watching is so popular, it is likely that there are some bird enthusiasts on your holiday list. Or perhaps now is the perfect time to help someone close to you become more interested in birds.

     A gift membership to a conservation organization will benefit the recipient and the organization alike. On a local level, the Massachusetts Audubon Society, Essex County Greenbelt Association, Trustees of Reservations, or Parker River Clean Water Association are all worthwhile investments in the future of local bird life. Mass Audubon runs many programs and field trips, such as Wednesday morning birding, which would make unique gifts for the birder on your list.

     For those that might prefer more tangible gifts, a bird feeder is always a great gift. A bird feeder can provide hours of entertainment for young and old alike and it is a great way to introduce most anyone to nature. Feeders come in all shapes and sizes, from window feeders to one complete with pole and squirrel baffle. Even if someone has a bird feeder, they can always enjoy another one. Perhaps a thistle or suet feeder will expand the number of feathered visitors to their backyard. If squirrels are of concern – and they usually are – the Squirrel Buster line of feeders has been the most successful at keeping squirrels at bay and allowing just birds to feed. They also help lower the blood pressure of those obsessed with squirrels at their feeders!

     Though spring seems far away, bird houses help to bring it a little closer. They make super gifts, especially for those that want bird activity without the “chore” of filling a feeder. Birds will nest in spring and summer and they may also use houses in winter for roosting, getting out of the cold and inclement weather at night. 

     Screech owls love to roost in boxes and are a thrill for the hosting family to se the owl sunning itself in the hole during the day! There are also cute roosting pockets made of straw, sea grass and other materials, that birds will use for nighttime roosting. Wrens, chickadees, titmice, nuthatches and other birds will use roosting pockets and bird houses, and then nest in them come spring.

     Perhaps it is time to bring nature closer to someone by gifting a new pair of binoculars or perhaps a spotting scope. Optics have improved so much in recent years that you don’t need to spend a fortune to get a crisp, clear view of beautiful birds in the backyard or the ones in the marshes of Plum Island. A quality pair of binoculars will enhance the experience of watching a cardinal at the feeder or a red-tailed hawk soaring overhead. For those who have good binoculars, a spotting scope would provide a closer view of that snowy owl on a distant dune or an eagle in the trees across the Merrimack River. The better the optics, the better the view, but good quality binoculars and scopes are within most people’s budgets today.

     To help identify the birds at the feeders or through binoculars or scopes, identification guides are appreciated gifts. One can always use another field guide. Peterson’s, Sibley’s and the National Geographic guides are the most popular. Richard Crossley just added a new Waterfowl Guide to his offering of unique field guides.

     For general reading, local birder Doug Chickering’s Reflections on a Golden-winged Warbler will stir any readers interest for birds. Any of Pete Dunne’s stories of birds or birding are both informative and entertaining. For children, classics like Owl Babies or Make Way for Ducklings are always popular, and the more recent On Bird Hill by Massachusetts author Jane Yolens will be well received. 

     There are also CD’s to learn bird songs and the popular Bird Songs books have been re-released. These coffee table books have built in players that play the songs of the birds detailed in each of its pages. The Bird Song Identiflyer, with cards for learning groups of birds, remains popular for a simple push-button player to take into the field for learning the more common birds. 

     For more general gifts, there are calendars, mugs, pillows and potholders, towels and bottle stoppers and jig-saw puzzles with bird motifs. Bird earrings and bracelets, t-shirts, hats and socks are always popular. Children enjoy bird bingo and memory games and kits to build bird house and feeders.

     Any gift that helps someone enjoy birds and nature is one that will surely be appreciated this holiday season and, likely, for years to come.

Steve Grinley
Bird Watcher’s Supply & Gift
Route 1 Traffic Circle
194 Route 1
Newburyport, MA 01950
Celebrating 2
4 years of service to the birding community! 
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