Great Backyard Bird Count

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.

Two Pine Siskins share the feeder with two American Goldfinches on Saturday, 19 February (the siskins are the two middle birds).

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.

Often difficult to see in both in life and this picture is the Brown Creeper. Creepers cling to the sides of trees woodpecker-style, climbing up the trunks and branches to seek out insects and other invertebrates to eat (2/20/11).

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.

This Red-shouldered Hawk (in its second year of life-SY) is one of 6 seen soaring over the Wetlands during the Great Backyard Bird Count (2/18/11).

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.

This male Northern Cardinal belts out its song from a perch along the Dinosaur Trail. Common, but beautiful to both see and hear.

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.

4 responses to Great Backyard Bird Count

  1. Kristin says:

    That’s awesome, maybe I did see them after all! From what I remember they looked pretty similar to the one in the link you posted. I’ll have to keep an eye out for more in the future 🙂

  2. Kristin says:

    This was really fun! I’m glad I got to see a couple of new species. I wish you had been there on Monday as I think I saw several Fox sparrows but I’m not sure! Have you seen any rustling around by the wetland? Maybe next time I’ll try to get a picture so I can figure out what I’ve been looking at!

    • Greg Dodge says:

      Glad you had fun.
      The last Fox Sparrow that I saw was in late January/early February, but that doesn’t mean that you didn’t see any. Did the birds that you saw look like the one here:
      If so, then they were Fox Sparrows.
      Enjoy your time away, and I’ll see you get back.
      Have a good one!

    • Greg Dodge says:

      I have to add to my last reply to Kristin as follows:
      As I was closing up today (3/2/11) I saw a sparrow off to my right in the woods behind the Train Station. It was a Fox Sparrow alerted by the noise that I was making as I put away my gear for the night. Then, another one popped up from the forest floor, then another, and another…there were five Fox Sparrows in all staring at me from the shrubs of the understory!!
      A good end to a good day.

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