Sunday, February 21, 2016

Bird Count 2016

Except for the brave snowdrop, there are no flowers blooming in my winter garden, but this morning it is filled with beautiful color, especially blues and reds. The scarlet of the cardinal, the bright blue of the bluebird, the rosy pink of the housefinch, the crimson breast of the robin, and splashes of red on the heads of woodpeckers, together brighten the gray February day. The birds don't know the 19th annual Great Backyard Bird Count (GBBC) is over and,  to my delight, they continue to visit birdbath and feeders. I so enjoy the Count each year and 2016 was no exception. I counted on three of the four days, hoping to see something special. I wasn't disappointed. On the first day a bald eagle flew over the tree tops. Oh, how I wish I had been able to take his picture but he soared away before I could focus my camera. For years I complained that I never saw an eagle although they nest at a lake just one mile from my house, so this was a special occasion for me. On the third day of the Count, I heard the tap tap of a pileated woodpecker in the pear tree. He was pecking at the back of the trunk and, while his head repeatedly came into view, I could not snap a photo. I hear pileated woodpeckers often throughout the summer, but rarely see them. The few pictures I took during the Count show backyard birds that I see daily through my window.

Cardinals in the catalpa tree
Eastern Bluebird on the frozen water of the water dish

This was another record breaking GBBC with epic participation from across the globe. More than 150,000 checklists were submitted from more than 130 countries. While the United States submitted the most checklists, India topped the list for the most species recorded.

Downy woodpecker looking adorable all fluffed up
Busy juncos abound, making a striking black and white statement in the snow.

Launched in 1998 by the Cornell Lab of Ornithology and National Audubon Society, the Great Backyard Bird Count was the first online citizen-science project to collect data on wild birds and to display results in near real-time.

Why count birds?

'Scientists and bird enthusiasts can learn a lot by knowing where the birds are. Bird populations are dynamic; they are constantly in flux. No single scientist or team of scientists could hope to document and understand the complex distribution and movements of so many species in such a short time.'     

The large American robin bears no resemblance to the sweet English robin of my childhood
No bright color but loads of cuteness.
Female house finch -- the male has a rosy breast and cap
Tufted titmouse
The heated water dish draws bluebirds every day

 "Sweet bird! thy bow'r is ever green, Thy sky is ever clear; thou has't no sorrow in thy song, 
No winter in thy year." - John Logan.

On the last day of the Count my efforts were cut short when a cat appeared, scattering the birds. Neighborhood cats often visit our water dish. We don't know their names, but we call this one Peanut Butter. He stayed for a very long time and the Count was over for me.

There are more on-going bird watching opportunities including Audubon's Hummingbirds at Home project. I downloaded their free app to my iPhone. The next big bird-counting event is Global Big Day being held May 14, 2016. I plan to join bird watchers from all around the world to find as many species as possible on that day. Join in! It's fun and provides valuable information.

Backyard birds brighten our days in the long anticipation of the gardening season. I wish you the joy of birds while waiting for your flowers to bloom!

Pamela x

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  1. Lovely pictures! You got a good variety of species on your count. I especially envy you the junco, which we almost never get here. Have you ever participated in Project FeederWatch, the citizen science project that runs from autumn through early April? One learns so much about the birds that we share space with while doing such projects.

  2. I enjoyed the pictures and look at that naughty peanut butter, she looks so innocent and wonders why all those birds flew away. What strikes me is that you have much more colorful birds than we have, for instance the beautiful cardinals and bluebirds. We also had bird count two weeks ago.

  3. You had a great number and variety Pam. Besides the snow, we had -20F days so the bird count was a bust here...some woodpeckers and a couple of sparrows. It seems we have few birds to count in Feb.

  4. Thanks for sharing your photos and your results. I participated for the first time this year, and it was fun! It sounds like we get many of the same birds, except I have never seen a Bald Eagle here--many hawks and owls, though. Today, we put up a suet feeder for the first time, and it has been fun to watch the birds discovering it. :)

  5. It was a relief to see the heated water, after the frozen one. Poor birds! Didn't expect the cat to join the queue for water.
    Today a pair of hadeda ibis explored our pond in progress. Carefully observed by Thomas the cat (That's MY water bowl!)

    1. Yes, the heated water dish freezes over with the subzero temperatures here. The ice has a small hole of thawed water at all times though, Diana.

  6. Beautiful birds! and cute cat. Oh so lovely...

  7. I love the birds and Peanut Butter. What a wonderful garden.

  8. You have such a wonderful selection of birds which visit and wow, an eagle, that must be quite a sight. Our birdwatch was a little earlier than yours but I didn't have the time to join in this year, I do love watching the birds most days though.

  9. Your selection of birds and photographs are wonderful Pam. You have a much wider variety of birds than we do here on Long Island, especially the Eastern Bluebird and Tufted titmouse. I really enjoyed this wonderful post!

  10. I used to feed the birds, but then we built a lovely paver patio outside the back door, and we just didn't want to deal with the mess there. We make exceptions for hummingbirds, and there's a finch sock out in the pine tree. But I'm still having to continually rinse off my patio! LOL Hey, when you are named over a bird, you make allowances.

  11. Cats have ruined my count as well. Last year, Audubon switched me from NY to Canada. Not sure why, so I no longer participate. I tried to get them to change it, but to no avail.

  12. I've never counted mine. Perhaps I should. Loved your photos. Happy almost spring.