Monday, February 18, 2008

GBBC: Days Two - Four

I could have just as easily called this "GBBC Wrap-up" as the Great Backyard Bird Count officially ends today and I just submitted my last checklist. Hmmmm, unless I go out for a bout of owling. Nah, I'm feeling pretty beat. Well, it is just 15 minutes, I could be back before anyone really misses me . . . all right, I'll go. Hang on.

Will I be able to add Eastern Screech Owl to my GBBC
lists this year? Stay tuned to find out!

OK, I'm back. Beautiful night, with the bright moon occasionally obscured by clouds, giving a lights-on, lights-off effect. I walked our quarter-mile loop, listening for any spontaneous owl calls, then tried tooting for a Northern Saw-whet, whinnying for an Eastern Screech-owl, and hooting for a Great Horned. No response, except a dog in the distance. At least my other counts were more successful. That is, I at least found some birds, though diversity and numbers were fairly low relative to previous years (I think). I suspect weather conditions played a big role as several took place in some form of precipitation, from light snow to rain.

Photography-wise, this weekend was a bust. I hoped
for a bright, clear shot of a White-crowned Sparrow,
but I got a cluttered American Tree Sparrow.

My GBBC weekend was bracketed by recording the birds in our yard, the middle counts took place near Rochester, NY. We visited my parents for the weekend where we counted their yard birds. I did find a few new year birds, like Red-bellied Woodpecker, Brown-headed Cowbird, and White-crowned Sparrow.

Isn't it funny how first-of-the-year birds instill excitement? Later
this spring I probably won't give a Brown-headed Cowbird a
second glance, but on this trip I made an effort to find them.

The highlight was a trip to Mendon Ponds Park where we walked part of the Bird Song Trail, a short loop on which you are trailed by tenacious birds that presume you are a walking feeder. I used to love this trail as a kid because the chickadees would come to your seed-filled hand, and on rare occasions a White- or Red-breasted Nuthatch, Tufted Titmouse, or possibly a Downy Woodpecker would visit. In fact, this trail may have sparked my interest in birds. I'm trying to make it a tradition that we walk this trail when we visit my folks, hoping to provide a similar spark for Reina, who is almost four. This year she was enthralled with the birds coming to my hand, and she wanted to try. What success! She was visited by chickadees, titmice, and both species of nuthatch. The descendants of the birds that visited my hand decades ago are much bolder than their ancestors!

Watch a short video (8 seconds) chickadee
accept a sunflower seed from Reina.

We'll keep our GBBC enthusiasm going through eBird, I hope you all enjoyed your weekend whether you counted for GBBC or just enjoyed some time appreciating the outdoors.


mon@rch said...

Great GBBC list of birds! I have been to Mendon Ponds in a while but didn't get them to land on my hand (forgot the birdseed)! Thanks for sharing and don't worry, I always seem to get dogs barking in the background!

Greg said...

I really enjoyed the video. Now that just doesn't happen where I live! What a magical moment!

noflickster said...

mon@rch - growing up near Mendon Ponds meant near-weekly trips to walk the trails. Back in the day it was only on Bird Song Trail where the chickadees were brave enough to trust an outstretched hand, but now I've had chickadees come on several trails throughout the park. Learning and dispersal in action! If that pace keeps up, I figure the birds around our place will come to my hand in about 250 years or so.

greg - Thanks! I'm glad my wife shot some video, I was expecting only stills. I'm not sure who started the chickadee hand-feeding experiment there, or how they did it. The results are, as you said, magical.

Thanks for dropping by!
- Mike

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