Last weekend (Friday through Monday) was the Audubon Society’s Great Backyard Bird Count. This is yearly event that engages bird watchers of all ages in counting birds to create a real-time snapshot of bird populations. Each checklist submitted during the GBBC helps researchers at the Cornell Lab of Ornithology and the National Audubon Society learn more about how birds are doing, and how to protect them and the environment we share. Being a scientist/biologist at heart, I love contributing to this data collection.
The last few years I have not been able to participate because I have been in Florida for my granddaughter’s birthday. Yes, I know, there are birds in Florida and I could count them there, but I don’t want to take time away from visiting with the family, since I don’t get to see them nearly as often as I would like. The birthday party was early this year, so I was home for the count.
I was excited about spending time birding, which I haven’t done much of lately. Unfortunately, I had to work all day Friday, and by the time I got my to-do list done on Saturday, it had started to rain. So, no birds to count. Sunday afternoon was absolutely gorgeous, so I sat outside with Tippy, expecting to see all sorts of birds. Nope. I heard a few and saw some that were too far away to get a positive identification. I got impatient after 40 minutes, at having only identified one bird, a red-bellied woodpecker.
It was much easier when I had a bird feeder near the back porch. I quit putting it up after I got Tippy. I was afraid she would see the visitors to the feeder as a tempting smorgasbord of furry little morsels. Now that she is older and spends a lot of time in the house, I may try putting it back out.
Anyway, I thought I might have better luck back in the neighbor’s field. I got all of my supplies in a backpack and Tippy and I set off for a leisurely walk.
I did hear and see more birds, but could only identify a flock of robins and a turkey vulture.
At least Tippy and I had a wonderful, relaxed walk on a warm, sunny February Sunday.
On Monday, I was able to identify some mourning doves and cardinals.
My contributions are minor this year, but it is something. I need to spend more time honing my skills away from a feeder. It does make a difference when they have no reason to stick around. Finding the identifying characteristics on the fly is a lot harder, to say the least.
Do any of you participate in this event? If so, Tippy and I would love to hear how your weekend of birding went.