A Love for Birds

 

Written by Teddy Burch in the April 2008 Issue

Pat Velte has a passion for birds, the outdoors and photography. She has also found a way to meld the three together and share it with the rest of the world.

As the 20th century turned into the 21st, broadband, or high-speed Internet, began to gain popularity and provided the technology required for Velte to share her backyard paradise for birds of all species with other people via her website.

“I have always had a love for birds,” said Velte. “I just thought how wonderful of an idea to have outdoor cameras that could allow a constant viewing of birds for those who might be working at a computer all day.”

The idea grew into her backyard birdcam. She installed two cameras that take a still shot every 20 seconds and then upload them to her website. She has over a dozen bird feeders, and because of the type of feed she provides and the wide range of bird species in Oklahoma, her birdcams are filled with international stars.

“I fill the feeders with black oil sunflower seeds and a wild birdfeed mix,” Velte said. “In the world of birdwatchers, Oklahoma is known for a great variety of birds. Many species of birds are only found in this part of the world. That is why I have people on my web site from England and other parts of Europe that comment on the fascinating birds they see on my cameras.”

Each week during the wintertime, Velte uses 25 pounds of black oil sunflower seeds and 50 pounds of wild birdseed mix. She has recorded 54 different species and usually feeds about 300 birds a day, ranging from woodpeckers to cardinals to American gold finches.

“I have an ‘everybody’s welcome’ philosophy to my feeders. There are the naturally aggressive birds that may stay at the feeders for long times. I also get many different types of doves and even squirrels,” she said. “I don’t play traffic cop; I enjoy all the birds that come to my backyard.”

Who would have known that the blue jay falls into the category of an aggressive bird at the feeder? With that said, Velte explained how the evolution of the hobby of “bird watching” has changed into the term, “going birding.” So those who go “birding” are, of course, “birders.”

Groups of birders from around the world trek to Oklahoma annually for the viewing of several different species. One is the Smith’s Longspur, and most years they occupy the field just north of the Purina plant in Edmond. If you ever encounter groups of people in these fields, not to worry, they are just viewing a rare event.

Oklahoma is also in the belt known as the “central flyway,” which is the route used for many birds flying south for the winter and north for the spring and summer months. This provides a rare opportunity for viewing many different species of migrating birds.

“Water fowl from Canada and the Arctic come through here, as well as the whooping crane,” said Velte. “There are around 200 known whooping cranes in the world and many of them pass through here each year.”

If you are inside most of the day and want to get a little taste of the outdoors, log onto www.backyardbirdcam.com and watch some of the many fascinating birds that call Oklahoma home.

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