These are the kinds of things that I have to look forward to when I head to my southeastern neighbor-state of West Virginia for a week for the New River Birding and Nature Festival in early May. I'll be staying in a cabin the woods at Opossum Creek Retreat, and I imagine it will feel a lot like home - except I bet the birding will be a little better!
In the mean time, I've got some studying to do. I can't possibly hope to go in knowing all of the birds that we might come across during the trip, but I am going to focus my efforts on learning the wood warblers, both by sight and by song. This is one of my many birding weak spots, and I plan to make it less of a weak spot, both for the sake of this trip and just for my own personal knowledge.
I have a number of super helpful resources to consult for my studies, including Jim McCormac's Birds of Ohio, the Sibley Guide to eastern North American birds, the Warblers of Ohio CD guidebook (and CD) from the Ohio Division of Wildlife, and my trusty iBird app on my iPod, along with CDs of birdsongs that I have downloaded to said iPod. Oh, and let's not forget the vast array of information available on the interwebs!
I have been casually listening to songs by headphones while at work, but in the evening I try to do some old-fashioned homework by reading about the birds, taking notes, and studying photos and drawings of them. Hopefully by the time I find myself out in the middle of wooded West Virginia, I'll at least be able to identify half of the wood warbler species without too much trouble. If nothing else, I'll just stand and stare in awe, and I'll smile and nod when someone tells me what I'm seeing and hearing. That's okay too.
Wish me luck with my studying!