Wednesday, July 6, 2011

#59 Field Tip: Birds at 2, 5 and 10 o'clock!

"Check out the Oriole at 2 o'clock!" Does this mean to go home for lunch and come back in a few hours?  Of course not!  Clock directions provide handy points of reference to share the location of a bird in a tree.

Make sure everyone is looking at the same tree, clump of shrubs, or even an obvious building - and use a conventional clock to describe the spot.  For example, 12 o'clock is the very top of the tree in front of you, and 6 o'clock is the lowest visible branches (not necessarily the ground). 3 o'clock and 9 o'clock are located as expect on the 'face' of the tree.

Clock directions can also be useful to give angles from a particular point.  For example, "the bird is at 7 o'clock, about 10 feet down from the highest point on the dark green tree."
photo © adrian binns


  1. I use this tip a lot, but I wonder what will happen as the younger generations grow up with more digital timepieces and less exposure to traditional analog clocks. Will Tip #59 go the way of the dodo?


  2. Love the clock method. Cannot totally express the frustration when a trip leader kept yelling that the bird was "right there!" "Right WHERE?" we asked. "In that tree!" "Which tree?" (we were in a jungle) "The one with the vines!" Need I repeat - we were in a jungle, and most trees had vines.

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  4. Kathleen - as you well know birding in the jungle is tough. It is always wise to point out a distinctive tree or characteristic of it as a starting point.

  5. Kathi - let us hope that neither traditional clocks or species go extinct!