Tag Archives: GBBC

GBBC day 2

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


Filed under backyard, citizen science

Great Backyard Bird Count

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.

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Filed under backyard, citizen science

Great Backyard Bird Count 2009

Pine Siskins

I wasn’t going to participate in the GBBC this year since I am leaving for Texas on Sunday morning and won’t be able to finish the weekend.  I half-heartedly noticed 2 Black-capped Chickadee, 1 White-breasted Nuthatch and 1 Downy Woodpecker yesterday morning when I filled the feeders.

BUT, this morning, I happened to look out the kitchen window and HOLY Pine Siskinagogo (if I can borrow the term from @ratcliffe).  There are hundreds of them in the backyard.  Literally.  They are EVERYWHERE: in the trees; on all the feeders, in the shrubs, the ground is alive with them.  I wish there was a way of sharing just what I am seeing.  It is like a scene from the “Birds” and would be frightening if they weren’t 5″ long.


Quick, run to the window.  What are you seeing?


Filed under backyard

Unexpected guests

Have you ever looked out the window at your feeders expecting the same old, same old, when you were stopped in your tracks?  Well, it just happened to me.

I have enormous colonial windows in my kitchen.  They face the backyard were the feeders hang near a pair of oak trees.  I often sit in the comfy chairs and drink my coffee and watch the birds. (Yes, there are huge rattan comfy chairs in the kitchen, I took the table out years ago.)

Since I have been doing the GBBC, I have spent more time than usual looking out the window.  I was standing at the kitchen sink dunking my tea bag in my cup of boiled water counting the endless swirl of birds.  1,2,3,4 Tufted Titmice.  No wait; is that one over there?  1,2,3,4,5 Tufted Titmice.  2,4,6,8, Juncos on the ground by the feeders.  4 more under the arborvitae hedge.  That’s 12 plus 3 in the tree.  Wait, here comes another 1.  And then they would all shift and I would have to start over again.

I moved to the chair nearest the window, picked up the cat and sat down with my tea.  Hey, there’s a Downy, the first I have seen in months.  Then, from stage left, in flew 2 brown sparrow-like birds with huge distinctive white eyebrows.  They looked sorta big.  My first thought was that they must be Fox Sparrows, but they were not rusty at all and Fox Sparrows have no eyebrow.  I ticked off possibilities in my head.  Female Rose-breasted Grosbeak (but it was 28 degrees in Feb); female Red-winged Blackbird (possible, but the males always came first and all the water was still frozen over); it appeared to be some sort of sparrow.   Even without the binoculars, I could tell I did not know these guys.

I dumped the cat and looked around for the bins.  Crap!  They were in the car.    I dashed downstairs and out to the garage.  I pulled the bins from their bag and standing back in the basement looked out though the small ground level window.  I looked for field marks.  Huge eyebrow.  Streaked breast.  White on the tail.  Mottled medium brown.

I dashed upstairs for my camera and the Petersen’s.  Oh my God.  They look like Lapland Larkspurs.  They squabbled with the nuthatches but only stayed for less than 5 minutes.  By the time I got organized with my camera.  They had disappeared and so far have not returned.

Lapland Longspurs.  Is that possible?

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