By: Michael Jewell, Travis Audubon Master Birder
Janel Nye and I had a wonderful morning with the San Marcos Garden Club at McCoy’s Corporate Office in San Marcos. The sixty year old San Marcos Garden Club was interested in acquiring more skills for Backyard Birding; they knew what the “red birds” were, but needed help with some of the others.
We were quite impressed with McCoy’s Headquarters and the friendliness of everyone we met. One of the employees brought her bird house collection to use as center pieces for all the tables, and there was a nice area with snacks, coffee, tea and other drinks that really made us feel welcome. We were even invited to join a bunch of the club members for lunch after the meeting, but had to say no due to our schedule.
Janel, the Powerpoint pro in the house, put together a terrific slide show beginning with suggestions of bird books, a short discussion on smart phone apps, a review of common birds that show up in backyards, then a breakdown of wrens, sparrows and vireos likely to show up in a Central Texas backyard. These small brownish birds (often referred to as LBJs–”little brown jobs”– can be more difficult to identify.
We started out by asking what they were seeing, what kind of bird feeders they were using, if they set out any bird baths, etc., as a warmup and to gauge their skill levels. We were impressed with their willingness to participate; they responded with their bird knowledge and what they had been seeing. Other than what you would normally expect, some were getting Greater Roadrunners and one even had Bald Eagles! We noticed quite a few of the members taking notes during the presentation and taking notice of the questions asked during our slide show.
The turnout was great. We had around 37 people show up, including two from the McCoy’s Corporate Office. After the presentation, we think the question & answer segment could have lasted close to an hour if time wasn’t limited, and even as we were leaving, members were asking us questions and telling us about all the birds they were seeing. As we walked back to our car, Janel and I were both saying how much we enjoy doing these, but how this one was special.