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Source: James Shroyer, 785-532-5776,
Photo available. Contact or 785-532-2535.
News release prepared by: Calin Cooney, 785-532-2535,

Friday, Aug. 27, 2010


MANHATTAN -- Jim Shroyer is into tweeting in a big way.

No, it's not the popular social website Twitter that has captured some of the spare time of the Kansas State University professor of agronomy: it's birding.

Shroyer, who is Extension agronomy state leader, is an avid birdwatcher who observes more than 200 birds each year in Kansas alone.

Shroyer says it’s no surprise he has such a strong interest in bird watching. One of his ancestors, Johann Friendrich Gmelin, 1748-1804, was a German naturalist and made many contributions to bird identifications. But Shroyer credits his mother with tricking him into taking up his longtime hobby.

"Growing up I would help do chores around the house," Shroyer said. "To make it fun, she would say she was thinking of a bird and give descriptions, and I would guess what the bird was. So I started looking through bird books at a young age, learning about them and trying to fool her."

During his numerous birding expeditions Shroyer has compiled a list of nearly 500 birds he has seen, most of them sighted in Kansas. His iPod has more than 1,000 birdcalls on it, which he uses to help identify birds.

Shroyer has made contributions to Birder's World Magazine, and in 2009, with two fellow birders, he made the first recorded sighting and photographs of the rare Ross' Gull species in Kansas, which were later published by the Kansas Rare Bird Photo Gallery.

Shroyer joined K-State in 1980. He earned a bachelor's in zoology and a master's in weed science from Oklahoma State University and his doctorate in crop production and physiology from Iowa State University.

With more species than any neighboring state except Colorado, Kansas is a great destination for not only the experienced birder but also for birding beginners, according to Shroyer, who shares some tips on how to get started in birding:

* Obtain a field guide -- maybe even more than one. Some good examples are The Kaufman Field Guide to Birds of North America and Sibley's Field Guide. Studying the field guides will help you identify birds more efficiently.

* Have a good pair of binoculars -- or what you can afford. You'll be limited in what you can do without them.

* Get out and practice. Just starting and getting involved is the best way to begin. You'll start to recognize good locations and familiarize yourself with birdcalls, too. Befriending and accompanying experienced birders is another good way to learning the ropes in the beginning stages.

* Familiarize yourself with bird movements. Understanding where to expect birds and remembering their typical locations can make bird identification easier. A good place to research bird movements is at Kansas Birds,

* Always have equipment ready. The great thing about birding is that you can do it any time, any place. You never know what you might come across, and you don't want to miss your chance.

* Keep a list because it can be fun logging what you've seen. You'll appreciate this over time.