Thursday, February 11, 2010

The Great Backyard Bird Count

We've got several bird feeders placed right outside our family room windows so we can watch the birds eat there.  It's fun to see them any time of the year, but none more than in winter.  Personally, I think it's a minor miracle that any of them can survive out there in the frigid temperatures and raging snowstorms we've been known to have.

Some of the more common birds we see here in winter are various kinds of sparrows, goldfinches, house finches, mourning doves, cardinals, blue jays and starlings.  This winter, the starlings have been mostly absent and I can't say that I miss them a whole lot. They're feeder hogs and the other birds don't like to share perches with them.

Other species that we see on a fairly regular basis are several woodpeckers, dark-eyed juncos, white-breasted nuthatches, and black-capped chickadees.  Occasionally, a robin will show up.  My mom and dad, who live just 13 miles from us, have robins in great numbers each winter.

For the next four days (February 12-15), we'll be participating for the first time in a yearly event called The Great Backyard Bird Count.  Simply put, we'll be counting the number of each species of bird that we see during a selected period of time each day.  How long we want to keep track is up to us, with a minimum time of 15 minutes each day.

For more information, visit the official website, where you'll find everything you need to know about participating in this fun winter activity.  You may be surprised by which birds you'll see and you'll be contributing to research that helps identify bird migration patterns, irruptions, and the effect weather has on birds during a given year.  The more people that participate in the count, the more accurate the data.

*Join in the fun and count your birds! If you do participate in The Great Backyard Bird Count, I invite you to blog about it and send me a link to your post.  I'll do a follow-up post on it when the count is over and list the link to your blog here!


Melanie J Watts said...

Wow! you live in a place where robins hang out all winter. Where I live robins are a sign of Spring, they line up on the newly emerging lawn listening for worms.

Shady Gardener said...

I'm unhappy because we cannot participate this year. It has been such a perfect Winter season for seeing a LOT, and a large variety, of birds! Have a great weekend. :-)

Suz @ Slow Family Online said...

Hi Kylee! I can't believe you're seeing so many birds in the snowy OH winter. I will look forward to hearing about how your bird count goes. I'm going to be counting here, with some friends, on the San Francisco Bay. We expect lots of shore birds, and we'll see who flies by. Have a great count!

Beth said...

Beautiful post, Kylee! I love your photographs. Thanks for sharing with us.


Diane said...

We have robins in our neighborhood, too, and usually there's a flock on campus living in a juniper bush and eating berries. They behave so differently in the winter; it's really interesting. It's my understanding that the robins don't stay, they move south and the overwintering robins came here from somewhere north. Why a robin would think Chicago (or Ohio!) is a winter paradise, I have no idea!

I saw my first neighborhood chickadee in years this morning. They got hit HARD by West Nile and were totally wiped out. I'm so happy to see them back.

Kylee Baumle said...

Melanie ~ Some robins hang out all winter. If they have an adequate food source, they'll stay. Though we see them in the winter, there will many more of them come spring! For us, the true harbinger of spring is the Red-winged Blackbird. When he is back, I know spring is truly here!

Shady Gardener ~ Awww...sorry to hear you can't participate, but maybe you're doing something fun anyway?

Slow Family Online ~ Yes, we usually do see lots of birds, but they know they can find chow here! LOL. It will be fun to see what different birds you see!

Beth ~ Thanks! :-)

Diane ~ I think I've read something about the robins similar to what you're saying. I wonder if this winter, they're wondering why they didn't just keep on going further south? LOL!
I didn't know that about the chickadees! I wonder if that's why this winter is the first I've ever seen a chickadee in my life?

Dirty Girl Gardening said...

That little house finch is adorable!

Peg Wiggins said...

We are also looking forward optimistically to counting the birds both at our feeders and in the yard this weekend.

This is a great citizen science project to help with cabin fever this time of the winter.

Kylee Baumle said...

Dirty Girl Gardening ~ They really are. When cardinals seem to hog all the "red" attention, these little guys are humble and understated.

Peg ~ Absolutely! Hope you have fun counting! Be sure to let me know if you do a blog post about your activities so I can post a link to it here! :-)

Robin's Nesting Place said...

I wish the starlings were absent from my yard! I hear them squawking as I type this. They are greedy, messy, loud and mean!

Sabrina said...

You talked me into it! I did two counts, and will have a post about them shortly!

Catherine@AGardenerinProgress said...

Great pictures! I love the upside down Nuthatch! We are doing the count although our weather was very rainy for most of it, I didn't get nearly as good pictures as you did.
I will probably put my post up Tuesday morning.

Annie in Austin said...

Hi Kylee,

We get goldfinches and house finches too, but have seen only one Robin in the past 10 years. Hear they hang out near a creek a few miles away but not here and I miss them!

Lots of wind meant fewer birds than usual in my yard but we found a few over the weekend: Cardinal, Blue Jay, Mockingbird, Goldfinch, White-Wing Dove, Purple Martin, Wren, House Sparrow, House Finch, Cedar Waxwing, and Ruby-Crowned Kinglet. I put a couple of photos on my latest post.

Your photos are terrific - in our milder climate we concentrate on planting things birds eat and have no feeders, but feeders & snow is the way to get close-ups!

Annie at the Transplantable Rose

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