When Marilyn Binkley was growing up in Akron, Colo., she was exposed to birdwatching at a young age. With a mother and grandmother who were both backyard birders as well as a father who was a duck and pheasant hunter, Marilyn couldn’t escape learning about birds one way or another.
“I saw a lot of birds just through the three of them,” she says. So it’s not surprising that nearly two years ago, when Marilyn and her husband Dave moved to Wind Crest, the Erickson Senior Living community in Douglas County, Colo., they began looking for birds throughout the campus as well as around nearby parks and ponds. To date, they’ve seen 77 different species of birds on the High Line Canal and at a local pond on the Wind Crest campus. The 77th species they spotted were a pair of ducks known as hooded mergansers.
“There were a male and a female in that same pond. Canadian geese like to hang out in there, and sometimes mallards, but seeing this pair of hooded mergansers was just breathtaking,” Marilyn says.
Marilyn and Dave don’t only look for birds at Wind Crest. In fact, they’ve traveled the world and have seen them on six of the seven continents so far. In January of 2022, they hope to visit their final uncharted continent— Antarctica. “We’ll see lots of penguins. Then there are albatross, which are some of the biggest birds in the world,” she says. “We’ve seen penguins before, but I’m really looking forward to seeing the kings and the emperors.”
Marilyn and Dave got into birding together before they were married. “He is the ears for the two of us because he hears a lot better than I do,” admits Marilyn. They’ve both refined their skills over the years to spot as many birds as they can. So far, their whole life bird count—a life bird is when you’ve seen a bird that you’ve never seen before—is 2,324 different species throughout the world. “Which is a fairly small number considering there’s over 10,000 birds in the world,” says Marilyn.
Their ABA life bird count—which is the American Birding Association, including the continental U.S., Canada, and Mexico—totals 631 different birds. That’s around half of what is possible, about 1,112. But bird watching isn’t only about spotting birds.
“What we enjoy a lot is watching their behavior. What are they doing? How are they interacting with other birds of the same species or other birds of other species? How are they reacting if there’s mammals around?” explains Marilyn. “Watching behavior is a lot of fun.”
They also enjoy watching birds during nesting season, when they are pair-bonding. “What do different birds do to attract the other sex of bird? Are they fluffing their feathers? Are they doing a dance? Are they showing you their blue feet like the blue-footed booby does?” she asks.
The Binkleys also like to observe nest-building. “It’s fun watching them finding nesting material and bring it to wherever they’re going to build it. If the nest is in a place where you can see it, sometimes you can see, after the eggs have hatched, little heads sticking out,” says Marilyn. Although it’s rare to see a bird fledge from the nest—as Marilyn says, the parents kick the babies out of the nest— they saw this a few times from their balcony at Wind Crest. The birds were phoebes, which are in the flycatcher family. They had built a nest under a portico.
“If you were on the ground, you could see the nest. But we could see them flying around a lot getting food,” she says. “I just happened to be outside, and all of a sudden, I saw this very fresh-looking bird take off out of the nest, and one of the parents was going after it. They started to practice flying and then practicing catching food in the air!”
Marilyn and Dave were so excited that they moved the kitchen table next to the window of the great room in their two-bedroom, two bath Jameson style apartment home.
Marilyn says, “We can sit there reading the newspaper, eating breakfast, and you never know who’s going to fly by!”
If you’d like to learn more about enjoying the view from your new apartment home at Wind Crest, request more information today.