4 Blue Jays, 12 Dark-eyed Juncos, 6 Tufted Titmice, 6 Black-capped Chickadees, a pair of Red-bellied Woodpeckers, a pair of Downy Woodpeckers, 1 Hairy Woodpecker, 1 Crow, 2 White-breasted Nuthatches, 1 American Tree Sparrow, 2 Cardinals, 1 Carolina Wren
Can you spare a few minutes for the next 4 days to count birds at your feeders? No feeders? S’okay. You don’t need feeders, you can go to the local park or wildlife refuge. You can also include fly-overs and birds you hear if you are sure of the call. Yes, It is time once again for the Great Backyard Bird Count. I love that this event is short, only 4 days and that I can count as much or as little as I can or have time for. It is not a huge commitment, BUT your data combined with that of all the other participants can help give a glimpse of the bird population this winter.
Remember last year when we were awash in Pine Siskins? This year I have nary a one. But luckily, I do not need to have rare or unusual birds to participate in the count. I want my lone American Tree Sparrow to be counted. It comes very winter by itself and hangs around with the Junco crowd. I have a Carolina Wren or maybe 2 and lots of Chickadees and Titmice and Nutchatches.
It is going to be cold this weekend, so bundle up when you go and keep me posted.
I stood looking down from the bedroom window at the snow. The pristine blanket of white was broken by a trail leading from the woods down and around the top of the property. I squinted against the blandness of white on white. The tracks followed the edge of the mountain laurel, stopping at the sandbox then making a beeline to the bird feeders before wandering off through the arborvitae hedge to the neighbors yard. What the heck! I threw off my robe, gathering clothes as I headed down the stairs. I wanted to see if I could tell what they were, so I grabbed my camera as I headed out.
Well, I don’t know. They look sort of like cat prints. But big. Maybe 2 inches across. I didn’t see any claw marks, so I don’t think they are a dog. Have you seen bobcat prints? How big are they? There is a Weimaraner that lives up the hill. Could it be her?
I had just fed the birds and was sitting in the garage with the door open when I heard the scrape of the plow coming up the driveway. The driver waved as he inched past making a wide swath through the knee-deep snow. The birds scattered but returned when he backed away to make another pass. The driver was someone I had never seen. He rolled down his window as he prepared to make the final pass and hollered above the roar of the diesel, “Are you a birdwatcher?” I nodded happily and pointed at the busy feeders. “I love Chickadees,” he shouted and with a smile and a promise to be back, he crawled down the steep drive onto the unplowed street.
Today’s snow birds were: Carolina Wren, Downy Woodpecker, Red-bellied Woodpecker, Black-capped Chickadee, Tufted Titmouse, White-breasted Nuthatch, Cardinal, American Tree Sparrow, Dark-eyed Junco, Blue Jay
I was racing the sun and stuck behind a slowpoke. Each minute, each second, I crawled behind the dark sedan; I lost another ray of sunlight. I cast an anxious eye to the horizon as I crested yet another hill heading toward the Liberty Loop trail at the Wallkill. Although it is not far from my house, tonight the trip seemed to last forever. Yes, I had decided spontaneously. Yes, I had waited rather too long. But still. “Why, oh Why, are they always in front of me,” I wailed.
I finally pulled into the parking lot fully expecting to be by myself, as is often the case, to find 5 other cars bellied up to the bar, as it were.
I stumbled from the car, hastily pulling on heavy gloves and a hat with earflaps. Stomping up the snowy path with booted feet, I hoped that the 2 pair of socks I was wearing would be enough this time. After exchanging pleasantries, and accepting an offer to peer through a scope at a Bald Eagle, I settled down to wait. We all scanned the marsh, side-to-side, front-to-back, side-to-side, front-to-back, then turned and did the same across the street. I held my breath at each ghostly pass of the harriers working the marsh in the gathering gloam. The sun slipped beyond the hill turning the shadows to midnight blue. The transition came quickly. One minute, they were Harriers and the next they had magically turned into Short-eared Owls. As if, as if, the Harriers had thrown off their daytime disguises to reveal their nighttime nature.
It is a crepuscular magic that I never tire of.
I am on my way for yet another business trip. Alas, this one will not allow for any squeezed-in birding. I know I have been absent from my much-loved bird blog for a long while, but hang in there with me, this is my last trip of the year.
Let me offer you a shot from my Arizona trip. While in Madera Canyon at the Madera Kubo B&B (incredible birding mecca) I was able to drink my fill of this Hepatic Tanager. Mmm, wait, that sounds sort of vampiric. Let me re-phrase, I was able to stare at it for long periods. Better perhaps, but not as poetic. It sat in this tree for most of the afternoon, flitting from branch to branch but always in full camera view. Gorgeous, isn’t it?
Check out the other great photos at Birdfreak’s Bird Photography Weekly