Sunday, November 11, 2007

Watching and Waiting

Last week my 3-and-a-half-ish daughter blurted, out of the blue, "When do we count birds again?"

One of the first sightings of this season's Project FeederWatch count: a Purple Finch shares the (embarrassingly empty) hopper with a Black-capped Chickadee.

Because 3-and-a-half-ish-year-olds have no concept of time (when we tell her, "Wait three minutes" she counts to three and yells, "I'm ready!"), we were lucky that Project FeederWatch started this weekend. (For more eloquent thoughts on the merits of counting birds at your feeder, check out Born Again Bird Watcher - almost everything I read on his blog I want to post here with a simple, but forceful, "What he said!" endorsement).

A male Downy Woodpecker chooses his usual suet snack.

Our count was fairly uneventful, squeezed between some normal weekend activities (laundry, house cleaning) and some rushed, end-of-the-season activities (last lawn cutting, prepping the garden and other spots for next season, cleaning the shed, mounting a nest box, and so on). No winter finches, no outstanding sparrows, no lingering migrants. What was notable: no cardinals.

Mourning Doves were a bit shy about coming to
the feeder, one settled in the nearby oak.

We always have cardinals, but they've been sparse on my yard lists for the past month or more. I'm a little behind in entering my eBird data, but my overall impression is they're not frequenting our yard like they used to. Usually at least two birds are at the feeder at dawn and dusk, plus another pair or more elsewhere in the yard, but they're not around right now. Thanks to PFW and eBird I've been tracking, and will continue to track, their coming and going, or more precisely, their presence and absence, and look for a pattern.

A White-breasted Nuthatch classically poses, watching for an
opening at the feeder. His stash of sunflower seeds is a couple of feet
above him in this oak, where the squirrels usually find them.

Already my daughter can't wait to count again next weekend, she's also hoping for a cardinal (earlier this year she pointed out to me that cardinals are my favorite).

Post title credit: Watching and Waiting (1974), The Moody Blues

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