Tuesday, February 22, 2011

The Great Backyard Bird Count Round-Up

The Great Backyard Bird Count
comes to a close today. Each year, bird watchers across the country have been keeping an eye on their feeders and their trees for any and all birds that paid them a visit. We've kept track of the different species as well as how many of those we saw.

The official site makes it easy to do, even giving us lists of birds that are common to our area. To help with identification, links to Cornell's site for each species are given. I didn't see any unusual birds during my count, which I did this morning, but we aren't having the best weather today either. Freezing rain and wind no doubt kept many birds huddled in a warm spot somewhere!

However, some of the most common birds we see here in the winter braved the weather to grab some berries from the Washington hawthorn (Crataegus phaenopyrum) trees and from those that had fallen to the ground. The feeder, which is usually a constant hub of activity, was ignored by all except a lone blue jay.

Throughout this winter, we've seen several species - cedar waxwings, white-breasted nuthatches, red-bellied woodpeckers, finches, downy woodpeckers, mourning doves, numerous sparrows, starlings, and of course, blue jays, cardinals, and robins.

Robins all winter, you ask? Yes! Many robins stay here in northwest Ohio and don't go south, although many of the ones we see may actually be from further north, in Canada. I guess it's all relative when it comes to temperature! Robins stay if they've got a food source and in our yard, they've certainly got that.

For this reason, seeing robins at this time of year is not a sign of spring in our area. The more reliable harbinger is the red-winged blackbird. (More on this tomorrow!) No blackbirds showed up for the count period, but during the hour I kept count, I did see these:

Mourning Dove: 1
Cardinal: 3
Blue Jay: 2
Sparrows (unspecified species): 5
American Robin: 13

The robins were seen all at once, in one tree and on the ground below it. They spent the entire hour that I watched, munching away.

Several of you also participated in the count:

  • Dan, from Nature Observances in Connecticut, saw a red-winged blackbird, too!
  • Nathan and Kelly, of Barrie, Ontario, Canada, show their birds at Petals Wings and Things Photography.
  • Frances of Fairegarden (in Tennessee) has photos of birds common in her yard and the tally of species she saw.
  • Kathleen, who blogs at Kasey's Korner and lives in Colorado, has an adorable photo of a house finch taking a bath.
  • Becky, at Native Backyard, watches birds in North Carolina and saw quite a diverse lot of birds!
  • John, in New Jersey, has several posts about the days he participated on A DC Birding Blog.
  • Rose, at Prairie Rose's Garden in Illinois, had a visitor of another kind at her feeder!


Benjamin Vogt said...

Yes, blackbirds, not robins. I had to bust someone's bubble lately that robins (and blackbirds) are year round residents. And yet for me as well it's the red-winged blackbirds that mean spring--and I've seen my first ones just this week. It's supposed to snow tomorrow.

Dave@TheHomeGarden said...

Neat stuff! One of these days I'll get out and try the bird count. The robins are pretty much year round here too. I'm not sure that the robins have ever been a good indicator of spring's arrival. The redwing blackbirds are year round down here too. I saw one this afternoon.

P.S. NP on the Seed Sowing Saturday - join in when you can!

Rose said...

We usually have robins year-round, too, Kylee, although this year I hadn't noticed many until about a week or two ago. My bird count tally was rather disappointing--I don't know if the warmer weather we had last weekend had something to do with it or if it was the hawk that kept circling the front yard. Still, it's fun to join others in participating in this count.

Catherine@AGardenerinProgress said...

This was our third year participating and it's always so much fun. This year we had no unusual visitors either. We also saw quite a bit of Robins. They are here year round too, but really start showing up more towards the end of winter. We've had snow the last couple of days so I think they've gone back to their hiding spots for now.

Anonymous said...

I love seeing the robins and your images of them all are superb, Kylee! Thanks for sharing the posts who also counted and the linkage, my friend. We love seeing and feeding our feathered garden friends. :-)

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