Wednesday, February 12, 2014

Are You Ready for the Great Backyard Bird Count?


The 17th annual Great Backyard Bird Count begins on Friday, February 14 and continues through Monday. I'm ready, are you? The count is important, helping scientists track the abundance, distribution, and movements of birds around the world. It is a joint project of the Cornell Lab. of Ornithology and the National Audubon Society, with Canadian partner Bird Studies Canada. Anyone can participate and it is so easy ... just count birds for at least 15 minutes on one or more days. I do this while sitting in my favorite chair in the garden room and watching through the glass of the French doors which provides a clear view across the back porch to the shade garden. H.H. has placed bird feeders and a water dish in my line of vision.

If you haven't participated before, but would like to advance the understanding and protection of birds, it is easy to get started. First, register on the GBBC site. There is a link in my blog sidebar and another in the first sentence of this posting. Or click on 'register for the count' here. You can count for longer than 15 minutes if you wish! 'Count birds in as many places and on as many days as you like—one day, two days, or all four days. Submit a separate checklist for each new day, for each new location, or for the same location if you counted at a different time of day.' Enter the results on the GBBC website, or download the free app and enter on your mobile device. There is also the option of mailing in a pdf data form.

If you hesitate to join in because you feel you don't know all the bird names, there is bird ID help on the website, including some neat birding apps. It is a wonderful opportunity to get to know your feathered friends.

H.H. began preparing for the count by providing food, water, and shelter for birds within my view...

FOOD

We purchased a new bird feeder because squirrels figured out how to get into the old one. The new one has a tube to contain seeds and is surrounded by a decorative metal cage. Birds land on metal perches and feed from open ports. If a squirrel puts its weight on a perch, the metal cage goes down to cover the ports. The perches spring back up and the ports open when the squirrel removes itself.

A house finch was the first bird to try the new feeder.

We've tried various 'squirrel-proof' bird feeders, but this is the first of its kind. I will be interested to see how well it works, as we haven't yet found anything totally squirrel proof.

So far the squirrels are content with seed that has fallen on the snow below.

A nuthatch samples the new feeder.
The cardinal prefers to feed on the ground.

We also have a small, open feeding-dish on the porch. Squirrels can't reach this small dish as it is high up on the wall. It's a favorite spot for nuthatches, titmice, and chickadees.

A titmouse goes to his favorite eating spot on the back porch.

 In addition to seed, H.H. provides suet for the woodpeckers. Again, we use a squirrel-proof container.



WATER

A 'must' for winter birds is a heated water dish. Ours is on the porch near the bird feeder.


Bluebirds love the heated water dish.
A bluebird and a goldfinch chat at the water dish (well, I like to think they are chatting.)

 SHELTER

Birds need a place to shelter while they wait their turn to go to feeders and water dishes. Sometimes they sit on a branch in the catalpa tree where the feeder hangs. As an extra spot for shelter, H.H. placed the used Christmas tree nearby. He does this every year after I have removed the decorations. The birds love it. Usually, I string peanuts across the branches and add pine cones covered in peanut butter. I wasn't able to do it this year because of illness, but the tree still makes a useful contribution to the comfort of winter birds.

Used Christmas tree.
A dark-eyed junco shelters under the used Christmas tree.

Armed with binoculars, a notepad and pen, and my iPad, I am indeed ready. Oh, and I keep my camera to hand also. There is a photo contest as part of the GBBC, but I never considered any of my pics. good enough to enter. It's fun, however,  browsing through the photographs that are submitted. Maybe I will have-a-go this year.


Hope is the thing with feathers (254)

  by Emily Dickinson
Hope is the thing with feathers  
That perches in the soul,  
And sings the tune without the words,  
And never stops at all,  
   
And sweetest in the gale is heard;          
And sore must be the storm  
That could abash the little bird  
That kept so many warm.  
- See more at: http://www.poets.org/viewmedia.php/prmMID/19729#sthash.1aYpJO3H.dpuf
Hope is the thing with feathers That perches in the soul, And sings the tune without the words, And never stops at all, And sweetest in the gale is heard; And sore must be the storm That could abash the little bird That kept so many warm. –from "Hope is the thing with feathers" by Emily Dickinson - See more at: http://www.poets.org/viewmedia.php/prmMID/20947#sthash.J9migmBJ.dpuf
Hope is the thing with feathers That perches in the soul, And sings the tune without the words, And never stops at all, And sweetest in the gale is heard; And sore must be the storm That could abash the little bird That kept so many warm. –from "Hope is the thing with feathers" by Emily Dickinson - See more at: http://www.poets.org/viewmedia.php/prmMID/20947#sthash.J9migmBJ.dpuf
Hope is the thing with feathers That perches in the soul, And sings the tune without the words, And never stops at all, And sweetest in the gale is heard; And sore must be the storm That could abash the little bird That kept so many warm. –from "Hope is the thing with feathers" by Emily Dickinson - See more at: http://www.poets.org/viewmedia.php/prmMID/20947#sthash.J9migmBJ.dpuf
Hope is the thing with feathers That perches in the soul, And sings the tune without the words, And never stops at all, And sweetest in the gale is heard; And sore must be the storm That could abash the little bird That kept so many warm. –from "Hope is the thing with feathers" by Emily Dickinson - See more at: http://www.poets.org/viewmedia.php/prmMID/20947#sthash.J9migmBJ.dpuf
Hope is the thing with feathers That perches in the soul, And sings the tune without the words, And never stops at all, And sweetest in the gale is heard; And sore must be the storm That could abash the little bird That kept so many warm. –from "Hope is the thing with feathers" by Emily Dickinson - See more at: http://www.poets.org/viewmedia.php/prmMID/20947#sthash.YgrXxe0u.dpuf
Hope is the thing with feathers That perches in the soul, And sings the tune without the words, And never stops at all, And sweetest in the gale is heard; And sore must be the storm That could abash the little bird That kept so many warm. –from "Hope is the thing with feathers" by Emily Dickinson - See more at: http://www.poets.org/viewmedia.php/prmMID/20947#sthash.YgrXxe0u.dpuf


I apologize, dear gardening friends, for not posting lately or visiting your blogs, but I was in the hospital. I am usually a very private person, but I feel I have so many wonderful friends among garden bloggers around the world, that I can share this problem, as many of you were 'there' for me when I had heart surgery, three years ago. This time I had a very painful gastritis since September and my stomach would not heal. I lost 30 pounds because I couldn't eat, so my wonderful doctors decided it was necessary to remove the offending part of the stomach. The partial gastrectomy was a much bigger operation than I expected, and recovery is somewhat slow, but they tell me I will return to full health for the start of the gardening season!!! (I worked that well, didn't I?) They haven't found the cause, and more tests are necessary, even after numerous biopsies. But one thing we know -- there is NO cancer - my worst fear. I am a firm believer in the power of prayer and thank everyone who sent prayers and good wishes my way!

Another big snow storm is heading here from the Southeast where it is hitting hard as I write ... there are hundreds of thousands without electricity. Hopefully, we wont get it so bad, and have a respite this weekend, so we can enjoy the birds.

I'll end with a little haiku:

A bird in winter
With blanket of its feathers
Venturing nature  
-- Jyoti Chaudhary

 Such brave little birds -- I will not venture out in this awful weather.

Love,
Pamela x


It is snowing again.
~~ I love reading your comments. I hope you leave one so I’ll know you visited! 
I look forward to visiting your blog in return.

19 comments:

Diana Studer said...

so sorry to hear you have been ill. I do hope you are well on the way back to a full and vigorous recovery!

Lee@A Guide to Northeastern Gardening said...

I hope you are feeling better Pam and wish you a speedy recovery. I enjoyed your post. Participating in the bird count is such a nice idea and important. Your photos of the woodpecker and bluebirds are beautiful! It is snowing and raining here too. Stay warm. :)

Angie said...

Wishing you a speedy recovery Pam - it goes to show that just because you can't/shouldn't get out and about in the garden, there are still ways you can enjoy it.
Good luck with your bird count. Your bird pictures are lovely and I'm sure the birds appreciate all your efforts. Our count here in the UK was at the end of January, slightly different rules but fun all the same.

Indie said...

I hope you feel better soon, and that will take care of all the problems with your stomach! Bird watching is such a relaxing and enjoyable way to pass the time. You look like you have a good setup. Me and the kids will be counting this weekend!

Jane said...

Oh...with birds as beautiful & colourful as these I could sit for hours watching them, let alone 15 minutes.
Sorry to hear that you have been unwell, enjoy the peace of your garden from your comfy chair for a while, get well soon, in time for spring xxx

gardenwalkgardentalk.com said...

It is nice you are participating Pam. I have my packet too, but I never count. Too many birds because I feed them so much. This year about 70 starlings have moved in and found the feeders, so it is a bird madhouse here. Way too many to count. I don't even photograph them here anymore either, I go to the Falls to avoid the Starlings. One thing odd, the Starlings don't dissuade the Jays or Cardinals, Even the Goldfinch are not bothered by them, but the Sparrows are and there have been less of them thankfully.

Loredana Donovan said...

Sorry to hear you were in the hospital. Hope you feel better soon! I love all your bird pictures, especially the cardinal and blue birds, such pretty colors. Counting birds, what a great idea. I take pictures but often don't know the names. Thank you for pointing out the butterfly was a swallowtail (I corrected my post). Stay warm and safe :)

HolleyGarden said...

Pam, I'm so glad to know that you will return to good health by the time gardening season starts! And that it is not cancer. So sorry you had to go through all the agony and worry, though. I will keep you in my prayers. Enjoy the birdies. You have some beautiful ones. I hope they all show up for you on count day!

dorothy said...

I'm sending prayers and positive thoughts your way! Gardening is so therapeutic, and I hope you will be back to your garden soon. I love the photos of those beautiful birds, especially the cardinal. Take care and stay warm!

Jo said...

I'm sorry to hear you've been ill and wish you a very speedy recovery. How lovely that you've got a chair positioned in just the right spot to sit and watch the birds, one of my favourite pastimes. We had our Big Garden Birdwatch a few weekends ago, but unfortunately, the weather was so awful that we didn't get many visitors. I hope you have better luck with yours this weekend.

Donna@Gardens Eye View said...

Oh Pam I am sorry you have not been well. Glad to hear you are on the road to recovery and I hope they find the cause. Send healing thoughts your way.

We have been hit hard of late with snow storms so the birds are tucked away for the first day of the bird count.

carolynsshadegardens.com said...

So sorry that you have been in the hospital and not well for so long but glad that progress has been made. It is a good time to be recovering because really with this weather you do anything or go anywhere anyway. Enjoy the bird count. How did you get that photo to snow? Very pretty.

Pam's English Garden said...

Carolyn, I don't know how the 'snowing' photo works. It happens when I upload to Picasa. Two pics appear in my album -- one still and one 'snowing'. Can't take any credit for it. Thanks for your nice comment. P. x

Jean Campbell said...

The bird count sounds like fun, but I can't see them when they all sit in the cedar (Juniperius) trees and sing.

Karen said...

Pam, I am sending prayers for healing your way. I was sorry to hear you've been sick and I'm glad you're on the mend. I know how hard it is to be ill. Brighter days are ahead!

I'm going to count the birds tomorrow afternoon, thank you for the reminder.

HELENE said...

We have had our bird count already over here in UK, a bit disappointing in my garden though but I think it was due to the weather. I hope you feel better soon, I know from experience how long it can take to recover from major surgery. Loved you bird pictures and informative text. Take care, Helene.

Alistair said...

We missed the bird count in the UK Pam, head was all over the place with moving. My new neighbours say they have never seen so many birds until we arrived. I am out front and back every morning feeding them, beginning to feel like a curiosity. Mind you I have also never seen so many squirrels. Your squirrel proof feeder is fascinating, I will have to invest in something like this. Sorry to hear that you have been unwell, I shall be thinking of you in the coming months willing you to be well again.

Rosie/leavesnbloom said...

Pam I hope your recovery is quick and that life will soon get back to normal for you. At least with all of this winter weather you can take it easy in the house and plan ahead for what needs done in the garden once all your snow has melted.

Jayne said...

I enjoyed the Great Backyard Bird Count too. Love your photos, especially the ones at the heated water dish. We could have actually used one of those down here this winter!

Sorry to hear you have been ill. I hope you make a full and speedy recovoery. *hugs*