Who : Presented by Knoxville Birding Group (part of Tennessee’s Ornithological Society) and Lakeshore Park
What : Bird walk around Lakeshore Park
When : September 11, 2021 8:00am
Where : Meet group at Marble Hall
Have you ever walked the trails of Lakeshore Park or attended an event and heard a beautiful sound from a little friend but couldn’t tell what kind of bird that friend was? Or have you seen a bird that was an incredibly bold color and wondered just what type of bird it was? Well, now’s your chance to have all of your bird questions answered! Lakeshore Park is partnering with Knoxville Birding Group to give a free bird walk on the morning of Saturday, September 11th.
Knoxville Birding Group is a part of KTOS (Knoxville Tennessee Ornithological Society) and is looking to teach others about all types of birds that can be found in East Tennessee. Morton Massey, President of Knoxville Birding Group, answered a few questions about bird watching (also known as birding), how one can get into it, what his favorite thing about birding is, and more. To see his full response to each question, click here.
What is Birding?
Birding is the joy of watching birds. This can be done anywhere — from your office desk looking out the window, the walk that you’re on, your backyard, and more! A bird watched can just observe, photograph, and/or keep records of the birds they’re seeing. Morton became a birdwatcher when he was in college. His love of nature began when he was a young boy hunting and fishing with his dad. This love for nature and the outdoors allowed the two of them to go on a birding trip with a friend of his, his freshman year at UT. Fred Alsop, his friend studying for his doctorate, had so much “enthusiasm for locating and identifying birds that it rubbed off on” Morton and his dad. He said at that point they “pretty much gave up hunting…preferring to watch,
study, and photograph birds… It has since been a lifelong hobby of” his.
What’s one benefit that comes from birding?
One of the best things about birding, according to Massey, is that it can take you so many places. “A few years ago, I set out to see 100 species of birds in each of Tennessee’s 95 counties. It took four years as I had to make multiple visits to most counties. … the real benefit I got out of the quest was driving the backroads of Tennessee and seeing how diverse, beautiful, and great our state is.”
What key items should a birder have?
Though it may have the great benefit of travel, birding isn’t the easiest of hobbies to pick up on- or the least expensive. “While you can enjoy birds without them, using a pair of binoculars increases the enjoyment tenfold or more.” Massey suggests spending at least a couple of hundred dollars on a good pair of binoculars so one could truly see all the elements of a bird that the naked eye cannot see. Another thing he mentions one should have is a small bird field guide. “Wild Birds Unlimited in West Knoxville has several types of good bird identification options to choose from.” Furthermore, if you’re looking to photograph a bird’s finest details, a quality camera/quality lenses are a must.
Equipment aside, the absolute best thing a birder could have is the ability to stay as quiet as possible and listen. “Good birders identify more birds by sound than they do by sight. When you are in a group of birders, be aware that too much talking and loud talking when the group stops to look at a bird is usually detrimental.”
What species can one expect to see in East TN?
East Tennessee is a place that either becomes a seasonal home or a great place to pass through for birds. Spring and Fall migrations bring the biggest variety of birds to East Tennessee. “In spring, many birds that rely on insects to feed their young come from further south (i.e. warblers, kingbirds, swallows, etc.) …. We also have large numbers of birds that nest further north in summer then move south to East Tennessee in the fall and spend the winter here. (i.e. many species of sparrows, ducks, gulls, etc.).”
Is birding hard?
As mentioned before, birding isn’t one of the easiest hobbies to get into, and that’s one thing Massey believes everyone who is interested in birdwatching should know. “There are so many birds to learn about and so many sounds to learn to identify. Then birds make it so difficult because they change their colors at different times during the year and each bird seems to have many variations of sounds they make. It can be challenging.”
Though challenging, Morton Massey ended the interview on a high note by adding, “birdwatching tends to be one of the most relaxing sports known to man. … All you need to do is enjoy the beauty of nature.”
If you are new to birding or are a birdwatcher of any level and are interested in seeing more birds, check with the Knoxville Birding Group to see what bird walks are scheduled. Their walks are free, open to the public, and some are specifically geared towards new birders. Spend the morning of Saturday, September 11, 2021 with Morton Massey, the Knoxville Birding Group, and the Wild Birds Unlimited of Knoxville to see who is currently flying around Lakeshore Park!