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As I ramble about the countryside, birding, getting fresh air, and giving my dog a serious outing, I realize that few wild things on this planet would miss us humans if we went extinct tomorrow. We are nothing but a problem for most other species on the planet. We shoot them for no reason, eliminate and degrade their habitats, poison them with pesticides, and produce endless things in the environment for them to crash in to. We put the No. 1 direct killer of birds out there — cats.

I’ve been ordering the owl species in this series based on my experience with how common these species have been in my life. Your experience undoubtedly has been different! It would be a pretty dull world if we all walked the same path.

Feeder birds get a lot of attention in winter because it’s so easy to watch them, and you never know when you might get something surprising dropping by your yard. But there are many species of special interest that aren’t going to come in for sunflower seeds or those who come for sunflower seeds. I’ve written about all of these groups in several earlier columns.

Like most hobbies, birding has a number of terms that are not in general use in our society or that are used in ways not commonly used. Although I have heard and/or have spoken most of these myself, there are a few that I have not. Birding slang, like much colorful language, has its national and regional variations. But we can credit the Brits for much of it. They are keen and tend to not overlook the opportunity to jab a friend.

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One reason I love rivers, streams, marshes, and lakeshores is because there are apt to be more birds there than in the adjacent habitats. The joy of coming upon a stream while hiking an unknown trail is terrific. Even driving down the highway, I know that when I pull alongside a wetland or enter a river bottom, I am guaranteed to see some good birds. I actually find it difficult to drive past any riparian area without stopping, no matter the original purpose of my travel.