Tuesday, February 16, 2010

What Birds Did You See Last Weekend?


The Great Backyard Bird Count 2010 is now one for the books and I'm happy to have been a part of it.  While I always love watching the birds and their antics, focused attention on them always brings about new insights to their behavior.

For example, I found that Black-capped Chickadees are flitty little things, difficult to photograph without blurring. They feed by grabbing a seed (sunflower seeds were a favorite) and taking it to a tree, where they peck at it to crack it open so they can eat the meaty insides. 

 Black-capped Chickadee

Again and again, they visited the feeder just long enough to get another seed, then quickly retreated to their branch. I wonder if they do this so they won't have to compete with other birds and can enjoy their meal in private.


Cardinals and Blue Jays are usually common visitors to our yard, preferring the berries of the Washington Hawthorn trees here.  But throughout three days of official counting, not a single Blue Jay and only two Cardinals were seen.  There are still plenty of berries for them, so I'm not sure where they were.


House Finch - male and female

GBBC wants to know which species of bird you saw the most of at one time, and here, it was the House Finch.  Once, I counted seven of their red heads chowing down, oblivious to the other birds around them and to me, watching at the window.
 
The most fun to watch were the White-breasted Nuthatches, because they insisted on eating upside-down, even when they had a handy perch to rest upon. I think they're an especially beautiful bird and never tire of watching them or hearing their staccato calls. They alternated between the songbird mix and the sunflower seed, wanting little to do with the nyjer seed.

 White-breasted Nuthatch

I had three feeders situated just outside the three side-by-side windows overlooking the patio.  It's a fairly well protected area on the east side of the house, out of our most common west winds.  The birds have learned that this is the place to come for a snack, so I had them filled to the top in preparation for the count.

Most of the usual suspects showed up, with one surprise arriving late yesterday, just as I was finishing my counting for the day...

 American Robin on Honeysuckle

Contrary to popular belief, seeing a Robin isn't a reliable harbinger of spring.  Many Robins will spend the winters in the north if they're able to reliably find food.  We see them all winter here, undoubtedly because of the Hawthorn trees as well as the Honeysuckles and Crabapple trees.  Now, when you start seeing the Red-winged Blackbirds in ditches and fields, then you can get excited about spring!

What birds did you see in your backyard? If you've done a blog post about it, let me know and I'll link to your post here:



Total Bird Counts - February 13-15, 2010

American Goldfinch  20
Black-Capped Chickadee  10
Dark-Eyed Junco  9
White-breasted Nuthatch  6
House Finch  9
Pine Siskin  5
Northern Cardinal  2
Sparrow  10
American Robin  1

American Goldfinch

~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~

Good quality feeders are a MUST.  I like those that are easy to clean and those that are made with quality materials.  I've bought some cheaper ones and end up having to replace them because they don't hold up to the weather.  They either rust or fall apart.

One that I like is the Droll Yankee Sunflower/Mixed Seed feeder that I offer in my OpenSky Shop.  The top and bottom remove for easy filling and cleaning and the feeding ports are metal reinforced to protect them from enthusiastic feeders. It's got a Lifetime Warranty against squirrel damage, too!  It really does pay to buy a higher quality feeder.

18 comments:

kaarina said...

I saw the COOLEST woodpecker right outside in our neighbors yard going to town on a tree! Tried to get a good shot, but he left before my camera was ready...

Darlene said...

I saw the usual, starlings, blue jyas, chickadees, nuthatch, sparrow, titmouse, cardinal, hairy and downy woodpeckers, red-bellied woodpecker, turkey, canadian geese, goldfinches, morning doves, and one surprise a coopers hawk right outside the front window.

Cameron (Defining Your Home) said...

Fantastic photos and bird ID!

There was a Meadowlark here and a Red-bellied Woodpecker. Juncos, Cardinals, Robins, Carolina Chickadees, Gold Finches, Bluebirds, Mourning Doves, Crows and Red-tailed Hawks call our place their home. The Juncos are winter-only residents.

Cameron

jodi (bloomingwriter) said...

I'm not a birdwatcher, so I didn't count. Well, that's not true. I do watch the birds, but can't identify more than a couple dozen types, and that includes ducks, owls, seagulls and hawks. So I just feed them, plant for them, and enjoy them. And try to take photos sometimes. Your pics are great.

Janet said...

hi Kylee, will come back after I get my tally done and entered to GBBC--my list includes 5 Mallards and one Great Blue Heron and a Brown Headed Nuthatch---and more.

Patsi 'Garden Endeavors' said...

No Nuthatch and never any Gold Finch. Hubby has seen Robins in the neighborhood but we didn't see any for the count days.
I wasn't thinking about doing a post on the count but I guess I could. I'll be glad to give you my count list if you like. Let me know.

Sabrina said...

As promised, I did a post on this: http://livingwithplants.blogspot.com/2010/02/counting-cardinals-and-other-feathered.html. Feel free to link to it!

Jean said...

I totally agree about getting quality feeders. Worth every penny! I haven't done a post about what I saw during the GBBC (we've been out of town and I'm afraid I may never get to it!). But I found that the birds that I hoped would make it to the feeder during my count times, like White Breasted Nuthatch, never showed up. They always turned up AFTER the count part was over. Same for the Robins, which are here in droves now. The most numerous birds were the American Goldfinch. They were a month late getting here, leading me to believe I wouldn't have any on this count.

Peg said...

It's great fun to share this activity with other like-minded folks.

I enjoyed your close-ups your feathered friends, Kylee.

I too posted some of our visitors during the GBBC: http://peg-mawalso.blogspot.com/

Feel free to link to it.
And I plan to go back to Birdsource.org to view the results as more entries are logged in the next few days.

Patsi 'Garden Endeavors' said...

Past post addition of results to same link.

Nutty Gnome said...

Gosh - your robin is very different to an English robin ...I never knew that before!

I didn't do the Great British Bird Count this year as it was when I was ill in bed with flu. Pity really as we get a nice collection of birds visiting us!

Ah well, there's always next year!

Darla said...

Of course I don't mind the link. My husband and I had a BIG time looking for and watching the birds...as a matter of fact, thanks for the link!!

joey said...

I have the same beautiful birds in my backyard, Kylee, but shame on me :( ... I didn't count them. Heading north this weekend, hoping to get a few bird photos, especially the bald eagles that nest at the lake. So far, they have eluded me ...

Janet said...

Hi Kylee, did the posting....here is a link.
http://thequeenofseaford.blogspot.com/2010/02/four-and-twenty.html
feel free to delete this comment after getting the link. ;-)

Catherine@AGardenerinProgress said...

You got some great pictures, I love the close up of the Chickadee. I've noticed the same thing about them. They are fun to watch going back and forth from the tree to the feeder.
Robins are year round here too, but they have really been out in small flocks much more in the last week or so.
Thanks for the link. I didn't have time to leave a comment earlier when I first read your post.

fairegarden said...

Hi Kylee, you had a good haul! So many goldfinches, good deal! We had a good count as well, two new to us birds in fact, the pine warbler and the yellow rumped warbler. We wonder now if they have been here all along and we just thought they were goldfinches? New glasses make all the difference! Thanks for the link love, my dear. :-)
Frances

Kathleen said...

Hi Kylee! I saw you were compiling a list of bloggers who participated in the GBBC ~ I am just now posting my list. I know, late! but better late than never, right? I enjoyed reading your post and viewing your photos. I wish a nuthatch would visit my yard!

. . . Lisa and Robb . . . said...

Oh goodness! I thought you wrote that chickadees are "filthy little things."

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