For the Birds

February 15, 2010

Today is the last day of the annual “Backyard Bird Count” sponsored by the Cornell Lab of Ornithology and National Audubon Society, with Canadian partner Bird Studies Canada and sponsorship from Wild Birds Unlimited. According to the Web site, “The Great Backyard Bird Count is an annual four-day event that engages bird watchers of all ages in counting birds to create a real-time snapshot of where the birds are across the continent. Anyone can participate, from beginning bird watchers to experts. It takes as little as 15 minutes on one day, or you can count for as long as you like each day of the event.”

This was the second year I participated, and I’ve been looking forward to doing so very much. Unfortunately, the weather didn’t cooperate, so I ended up being limited to about 20 minutes in my backyard yesterday! Even though I didn’t spend much time, I still learned some things, just like last year. (And I still might make it out one more time today.)

I was able to identify tufted titmice, a cardinal and two doves. After scrutinizing the doves with the binoculars, I realized they are mourning doves, not common ground doves as I had thought. I also saw two other little birds flitting through the yard, and while I’m not sure what they were (those buggers were quick), I think one was a Carolina wren and one was a yellow-throated warbler, both of which I’ve seen in our yard before. Other birds I saw yesterday while on a walk and not “officially counting”: vultures (circling overhead, so not sure which type), some white ibis, and what I think was a common loon. (I need a better bird book…)

I also learned, by flipping through that bird book while I was waiting for more action around the birdfeeder, that the little waterfowl I see in our retention pond are hooded mergansers. I am definitely a bird novice, and I’d never heard of these birds before! It’s so much fun to learn new things about the creatures that share my environment.

It’s not too late! You can still participate in the bird count today. (That’s right: go ahead, drop everything and go out and count birds!) Deadline for submitting your observations is March 1. (You can enter them online at Those who submit reports will be eligible for bird-related prizes.)

Happy birding!

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  1. How cool! I didn't know you participated or had any interest in birds!

  2. I love birds, but don't know much about them. They're on a future year of my "calendar of happiness."

  3. How wonderful that you participated and learned so much from the experience. I love bird watching!

  4. It's easy to learn a lot when you know virtually nothing :)... But each year I learn a little more.

  5. I was counting too! You're doing really well, and how lucky that you have Hooded Mergansers in your retention pond!!! I would love to be able to see them on a regular basis. I had to drive up to Cleveland to see them his fall. Every now and then they show up on the lakes around here as they migrate through.

  6. I knew you'd be counting! What birds did you see? Florida has lots of wonderful bird life...someday I'll be able to identify it!