This past weekend I, along with Rangers Kristin and Sara, participated in the Great Backyard Bird Count. The count is a joint project organized by the Cornell Lab of Ornithology, Audubon Society, and Bird Studies Canada. The count spans four days but you only have to count one day if time is short, and only fifteen minutes of that day if you’re really pressed for time.
The requirements for participating in the Great Backyard Bird Count are a willingness to count birds in your backyard, favorite state park, or other location, and a willingness to write down what you see and submit it to the above mentioned project managers.
I conducted the count by myself on Friday the 18th of February here at the Museum in Explore the Wild, the Dinosaur Trail, and Catch the Wind. Ranger Kristin counted with me the following day, and took on the job of counting by herself on the 21st, the final day of the four day count period. Other duties called both of us away on Sunday, the 20th of February.
We saw two species which can be a challenge to observe on any winter’s day, but on the count day they were a special surprise, Pine Siskin and Brown Creeper, both new birds for Kristin. And, on Saturday the 18th there were as many a six Red-shouldered Hawks soaring above the Wetlands at one time.
The same day, I saw both male and female Cooper’s Hawks soaring together. After a brief courtship display the male took off, presumably, to look for some of Durham’s downtown pigeons, while the female headed off to the pines just north of the Wetlands. It looks as though there’ll be another nest in our midst again this year.
We averaged 33.3 bird species for the period (34 birds the day I counted alone, 36 the day of the joint count, and 30 birds when Kristin soloed). Not bad totals for a habitat within Durham’s city limits.