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BirdCaching Spinoff Not Just A Lark

Is it a bird? Is it a plane? No, it’s the latest geo-hybrid, known as BirdCaching.

Developed by Robert Mortensen, this new variation combines our favourite hobby  with that of bird-watching, by asking participants to record any avian sightings alongside their name in the logbooj of each birdcache.

Robert Mortensen

Mortensen (GC handle: Birding Is Fun!) says the two hobbies share so many characteristics that their union was a natural fit. “Both allow one to experience the thrill of the hunt in an intense or leisurely game of hide-and-seek. Participants try to get as many finds as possible, be it birds or caches. Both motivate you to get out and explore areas that you otherwise would not, bringing excitement and adventure.”

The American construction manager jokes that both also involve “the same amount of nerdiness”, thanks to all the specialised equipment, smartphone apps, podcasts and blogs.

“Geocaching forums can be just as snarky as birding listservs as folks lay out their subjective opinions on the rules of the game. Most of all, geocaching and birding are similar in that we are finding things in plain sight that the average person on the street is missing out on.”

The best nest: Consider leaving a local field guide in your BirdCache for novice birders to use.

Mortensen first heard of geocaching about six years ago from a friend in Arizona. And while his kids loved the treasure hunting and exchanging of trinkets, he never really got into it “because I didn’t have a GPS device”.

“My brother, just 364 days younger than me, is an avid player so the kids and I have enjoyed geocaching with him when he visits.

“Once I got a smartphone and had the ability to use geocaching apps, the door was again opened to me to participate in this fun activity. Since I live the mantra ‘always be birding’, I found it very natural to combine the two.”

To promote both activities “and introduce birders to geocaching and geocachers to birding”, Mortensen has created a BirdCaching page on his Birding Is Fun! website. It includes tips and tricks about finding and placing your own BirdCache.

He’s also started a list of BirdCaches by region, which he hopes to other bird-watchers will help him maintain.

YOU WILL NEED:

  • Tweet, tweet: The BirdLog app.

    GPSr device or GPS-enabled smartphone

  • A Geocaching.com user account
  • Geocaching Live app by Groundspeak (optional)
  • BirdLog app (optional)

HOW TO BIRDCACHE:

  • While visiting traditional geocache locations, conduct a stationary survey of five minutes or longer to identify all the birds you see and/or hear.
  • Report your sightings via the BirdLog smartphone app, or make a list to upload later on popular website eBird.org. You can also share that list of bird sightings in your GC.com cache log.
  • Follow the principles of the international Leave No Trace movement.

HIDING YOUR OWN BIRDCACHE:

  • Follow the cache placement rules on GC.com.
  • Register your chosen BirdCache location on GC.com and name it “[location name] – BirdCache”. This will let other birders know that it was specifically placed as a BirdCache site, as well as alert regular geocachers of what they can expect to find at GZ.
  • If one does not already exist, create an eBird hotspot for this location so others can access it on that website and so you can enjoy tracking the subsequent bird sightings data at that location.
  • Consider creating a series of BirdCaches at great birding sites near you. (Always obtain permission from the land owner first.)
  • Be careful to choose locations that won’t be abused by an increase in people traffic. You may wish to create virtual caches if you would rather not to leave man-made items out in the wild.Birds

WHAT TO INCLUDE:

  • Logbook – an inexpensive notepad in a zip-lock sandwich bag to avoid moisture damage.
  • Pencils or pens.
  • BWJInstruction sheet for cache finders, inviting them to note the date and time of their visit as well as list all the birds seen and/or heard at GZ. You may also wish to point out that the birding aspect of this cache is optional.
  • Include a laminated pamphlet or checklist of local birds – maybe you could even throw in a field guide for finders to use at GZ.
  • Suggest non-birders download a birding app to their smartphones. (They’re so inexpensive now they are almost free.)
  • Depending on your container size, you may like to include other trinkets for trade.
  • Trackable items – send one out into the world and see where it migrates. (Perhaps include instructions asking it to show up at a birding festival you plan to attend in the not-to-distant future.)
*For more information on BirdCaching, contact Robert Mortenson through his GC.com profile page.

 
 

 

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