Tuesday, February 17, 2009

Great Backyard Bird Count

If you read more than two or three bird-related blogs you probably already know the data collection portion of the Great Backyard Bird Count took place last weekend between February 13 - 16. The data reporting portion continues until March 01, so if you collected any checklists be sure to submit your findings!

We were somewhat limited in our counting this year, compared to past years when we've submitted multiple checklists each day from our home, local nature centers, friend's homes, and wherever we happened to spend 15 minutes to count. This year we managed a few checklists from our home throughout the four-day count, not including four failed attempts at getting an owl (any owl!) to call.

But I find there are two equally exciting parts to the GBBC. First, getting outside and counting, and then exploring the results. We've been having fun checking out the maps as they're updated. One of the highlights of this year's count: Pine Siskin, this season a staple at not only in our yard, but apparently (almost) everyone's feeders. Small bird, big impact - you may have read about their presence on bird listserves or blogs, but check out what it looks like on a map.

BAM! Colorful and explosive! At the siskin page on the GBBC site you can generate the same map (which will be updated as new checklists are submitted) and go back in time to compare previous years. The differences are striking, and a great jumping off point to talk about bird distribution with young ones.

What interesting results have you found, either in your personal count(s) or the accumulated data?



Larry Jordan said...

Well Mike, let me tell ya. I saw more finches in my yard over the last four days than I have ever seen anywhere.

I couldn't count Friday because I had to work but Saturday, Sunday and Monday I had huge combined flocks of finches, in the hundreds. House, Purple, Lesser Goldfinches and Pine Siskins. And more Pine-Siskins. I tallied over 110 Pine Siskins alone in just my yard Monday.

I actually had to refill my two, three foot thistle tube feeders and my (total of 5) sunflower tube feeders in the middle of the day because there were so many birds fighting for stations. I didn't want to leave them so low that some perches were not usable.

It was a great backyard bird count indeed! My thanks go out to you and the rest of the Cornell Lab staff for all the great work you do

slybird said...

If you check out the Florida Scrub-Jay map, the big purple circle in south-central FL is me with 55+ FSJ's. I could've had 150 if I put any coordinated effort into it. :)

MaineBirder said...

Like Larry, we had Pine Siskins by the hundreds, but it was after the count. During the count, there were anywhere between 20-35 at any one time.

The Crossbills have been a frequent species also.

noflickster said...

One thing I heard today from someone who has direct contact with CLO citizen-science participants: people are calling to ask how to discourage siskins from their yard. It seems the Grateful Dead had it right: too much of anything is just enough, and siskins have surpassed that limit!

It really is an unbelievable year.

Nick - awesome with the scrub-jays! Any ideas how the numbers are comparing with previous years?


slybird said...

In terms of the GBBC? No idea, but including Archbold I'm sure skews the data bad :) In terms of the long-term trends in the study population of scrub-jays here at Archbold? Don't have access to that data right now, and couldn't post it anyways.

I wouldn't mind seeing some siskins down here.

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