Just when you thought it was safe….

… Mother Nature’s blast of white let us know who was in charge this morning.

snow

It’s a fairly deep snow but with rising temperatures it should melt quickly. I filled the bird feeders last night and threw out some feed this morning for the ground feeders. The seeds and berries and nuts quickly disappeared deep into the fluff. That’s no problem for the ground feeding juncos, the most numerous of the birds visiting us this winter.

These medium-sized sparrows fly in a flock to feed. They land together and they hop, fly, scratch, dig, and flit in and out of shrubbery. Although they move quickly, one or two have become meals for the neighborhood’s ever-observant Cooper’s hawk. We simply find the telltale pile of grey and white feathers on the ground.

junco

junco

Junco.

The juncos dig for seeds and toss snow, fuss constantly among themselves, and jockey for dominance. Although they primarily dine on our shelled sunflower seed on the ground, they don’t hesitate to feed from any of the feeders…. loving the bluebird’s mealworms, the tube feeders, and the suet cake.

suet

The little juncos are among the most common songbirds at the winter feeders in many areas. In Virginia, they were only winter visitors. However in New Hampshire, we have plenty of preferred coniferous forests with lots of evergreen, so we’re lucky to have them as year-round residents.

 

Great Backyard Bird Count 2018 (GBBC)

Binoculars? Check. Pencil and bird list? Check. It’s the 21st annual Great Backyard Bird Count (GBBC) weekend where you’ll find me counting birds for at least 15-minutes a day for four days starting today, February 16 until Monday, February 19.  Last year, over 160,000 folks participated and logged their findings online.

It’s not hard to do and it ends up being a lot of fun for adults and children. Citizen scientists can count birds on any one day or on all four days. Pick the time of day. Pick the same site or different sites. On the website GBBCbirdcount.org, you will post your findings and the accumulated data will help researchers at Cornell and the National Audubon Society find out how the avian population is doing and steps needed to protect birds.

To make it even easier, you can print out a checklist of birds that are in your area from the website. Check out the GBBC site above and to follow the easy directions, then post your findings.

bluebird

“Spring is coming. Spring is coming. Spring is coming.”

Great Backyard Bird Count

For over a month, I’ve fed the birds in our new habitat. And they have had the best of food, my special blend that I’ve developed over the years. It took almost a week of feeding before the first little brown bird discovered the feeder. Since then I’ve attracted the most common birds found at feeders. I’m missing a few familiar friends… like the cardinals.  But I’m beginning to attract varieties of woodpeckers. I hear them more than I see them but they will dash in for a seed or two early in the morning.

I was excited to rise at dawn today for the Great Backyard Bird Count. Coffee in one hand, binoculars in the other, I settled into my comfortable chair where data form and paper waited. What I saw at the feeder caused me to slosh a bit of coffee from the mug.

Grackles. Common Grackles. Iridescent in the early morning light. Hundreds of them, in the birches, in the pines, in the air, in shrubs, swinging on the grackle-proof feeder, spilling seed on the ground where they came and went with abandon.

They don’t know this crazy lady yet so they swooped and soared and dined in utter bliss. It was hopeless. My 15-minute Backyard Bird Count was easy today. I will report 200 Common Grackles. Hope rises eternal. I’ll try again tomorrow.

Great Backyard Bird Count: San Diego

Making my bird count this weekend from San Diego has been interesting.  I’ve enjoyed the hummingbirds most of all.  There are three varieties that make their way to the feeders: the Anna’s, the Costa’s and the Black Chinned hummingbirds. Many of the Anna’s little ones are beginning to come to feeders, their short beaks just long enough to sip the nectar.

Crows, ravens, sparrows, phoebes, jays, gulls, pelicans, and the black cormorant round out my bird list.  A favorite daily visitor has been the song sparrow with its beautiful melody morning, noon and twilight.

I hope everyone has had fun counting the birds in your gardens over the weekend.  Today is the last day and my count will be the birds in Gloucester Virginia. I can only hope that mister gardener has kept them well-fed.

Ann Hohenberger, The Garden Club of Gloucester

Time To Get Counting!

Here’s a little fact you may already know.  According to several sources, gardening is the fastest growing hobby in America. But here’s a little fact you may not know. Running a close second in fastest growing hobbies is birdwatching. And there is a exciting opportunity to do just that right around the corner.

Folks of all ages and abilities are invited to take part in the Great Backyard Bird Count. If you weren’t involved in the Christmas Bird Count, this is a great time to grab your binoculars, pencil and paper and get involved in the Cornell Lab of Ornithology and the Audubon Society’s 13th Annual Great Backyard Bird Count.  This event gives scientists a record of bird declines or recovery, trends, migration ranges, effects of climate changes and/or disease on the total populations.

The GBBC takes place over four days, Feb. 12 – 15 and no backyard is really needed. You can count birds at a park, while you take a walk, or anywhere you happen to be.

According to the GBBC website, it’s easy as 1-2-3

1. Plan to count birds for at least 15 minutes on one or more days of the count. You can count for longer than that 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. You can also submit more than one checklist per day if you count in other locations on that day.

2. Count the greatest number of individuals of each species that you see together at any one time. You may find it helpful to print out your regional bird checklist to get an idea of the kinds of birds you’re likely to see in your area in February. You could take note of the highest number of each species you see on this checklist.

3. When you’re finished, enter your results through our web page. You’ll see a button marked “Enter your checklist” on the website home page beginning on the first day of the count. It will remain active until the deadline for data submission on March 1st.

Ann Hohenberger, The Garden Club of Gloucester