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As I begin this post, my printer is whirring out a checklist of birds generally found in my area. Because come the day after Valentine's day, I'm going to be participating in The Great Backyard Bird Count. I first read about the GBBC over at Loree Griffin Burns's blog, and then saw it inside Family Circle Magazine. And the "chuck chuck chuck" of the red-bellied woodpecker that frequents my suet-like feeder on most days reminded me that I needed to check out the website to see what I need to do in order to participate.

It's easy. On at least one occasion between February 15 & 18, you need to spend at least 15 minutes writing down what birds you see in a particular place (it can be pretty much any place you want, not just your backyard, although I'm going with my backyard). You write down the maximum amount of each species present at any one time. Were this last week, in one 15-minute period I had the aforementioned woodpecker, two pairs of red-breasted nuthatches, two pairs of hairy woodpeckers, about 10 junkos, 2 goldfinches and 2 mourning doves at or under the feeders. And ten minutes later, the yard was completely devoid of birds. Easy come, easy go.

For information on how to participate, check out the How to Participate page at the GBBC website. It's pretty simple - count and fill in an online form.

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( 22 comments — Leave a comment )
Jan. 30th, 2008 06:14 pm (UTC)
I've always wanted to do this! Thanks for the reminder--I'm going to visit the site now!
Jan. 30th, 2008 08:38 pm (UTC)
The printable bird list is good, but you'll still need a book to look up the species. I spent a bunch of time repeating "let me see your belly" at the nuthatch on the feeder because I wanted to be certain it was red-breasted and not white-breasted. Because red isn't red like a robin; it's kind tan-looking, actually. Sigh.

I still don't have a positive I.D. on a particular brown bird. I'm thinking it's a female red-breasted nuthatch, but I'm not certain.
Jan. 30th, 2008 07:05 pm (UTC)
Kelly Fineman ... writer, poet, quilter, and citizen scientist!

You rock!


Jan. 30th, 2008 08:38 pm (UTC)
Thanks, Loree!
Jan. 30th, 2008 07:23 pm (UTC)
Cool. I'm checking it out.
Jan. 30th, 2008 08:39 pm (UTC)
All's you need is 15 minutes, a list and a bird book. And good eyesight. Those buggers can be hard to tell apart. I must remember to bet used to my binoculars before then.
Jan. 30th, 2008 07:45 pm (UTC)
Oh I just so knew Loree was going to gush all over you! Yes you do rock.
Jan. 30th, 2008 08:39 pm (UTC)
Jan. 30th, 2008 08:10 pm (UTC)
Oh, I am there.

I'll have to do it during break at work, but I'll do it!
Jan. 30th, 2008 08:41 pm (UTC)
That's what's so cool - you can totally do it then. And depending on where you work, you could see pigeons and sparrows (city streets) or Canadian geese (most industrial parks I've been in), or even something really cool - like the falcons and swallows that live in some urban areas, or the hawks that soar around here.
Jan. 30th, 2008 10:49 pm (UTC)
So cool!
I love to watch birds, too.
My goal is to someday have a house with a ton of birds in the yard.
What unique birds have you seen? Wow, all those woodpeckers. Growing up, we had a pileated woodpecker and once she brought her babies.
Jan. 31st, 2008 01:31 am (UTC)
The key to a ton of birds is a variety of feeders and some water sources. My in-laws live about 3/4 of a mile from here in the midst of suburbia, and they've got all sorts of feeders out. As a result, a tone of birds - including hummingbirds and titmice and cardinals and jays and lots of LBBs (little brown birds), plus all the ones I have as well. And I think they've had a red-headed woodpecker as well, plus some swallows and chickadees and a lot more birdies.

Get thee some feeders.
Jan. 31st, 2008 03:33 am (UTC)
Thanks for the link! We've done the nesting sites survey before, but I've never seen this one!
Jan. 31st, 2008 01:46 pm (UTC)
It certainly seems do-able. Although I've been spending time with my bird book, making sure I know what birds I've been seeing. I can add "Carolina Wren" to my list - I've had two of them here before, and couldn't i.d. them then, but I took a (blurry) snapshot and the distinctive white eyebrow/slash was definitely there.
Jan. 31st, 2008 01:57 pm (UTC)
Aww. I love wrens!
Right now, the pileated woodpeckers are making their presence known along our woodline. I always expect them to go south for the winter somehow, and it's a surprise to hear them!
Jan. 31st, 2008 02:31 pm (UTC)
I saw one of those when I was in New Hampshire last spring. My friend Angela and I were walking along a wooded trail, and we saw the bird's shadow on the ground as it flew overhead - they have ginormous wingspans. And then it landed in a tree where it was backlit by the sun, and its comb positively blazed at us.
Jan. 31st, 2008 02:48 pm (UTC)
They really are huge. And the calls sound like something tropical and jungle-y.
Which adds to the strangeness on a snowy day... I love them, though.
Jan. 31st, 2008 04:56 am (UTC)
Cool idea! We've just started watching David Attenborough's Life of Birds, so it would be fun to do our own backyard bird count. I'm so glad you posted this, Kelly. :)
Jan. 31st, 2008 01:47 pm (UTC)
You are so welcome. I'm just wishing that the list of regional birds came with photos. But that's okay.
Jan. 31st, 2008 03:53 pm (UTC)
Have fun bird watching! Are you going to wait until you have lots of birds to do your 15 minutes? Or are you going to pick a time, and whatever birds are there are what you count?

Sounds like a fun thing to do. Of course if I did it, mine would be: "pigeon, pigeon, pigeon, pigeon, seagull, pigeon, pigeon, pigeon, etc."
Jan. 31st, 2008 07:44 pm (UTC)
Unless, of course, you went to the zoo. Which probably wouldn't count.
Jan. 31st, 2008 09:57 pm (UTC)
Nope, probably not. Plus I'd screw up their classification system by using descriptions instead of names:

Big HUGE bird that flew up from 2 stories below to land right next to me, which scared the crap out of me, because there's no cage or anything, and the birdie could totally have attacked me, while my DH was rolling on the floor laughing and none of the bird keepers were around ... luckily, he seemed like a nice birdie that just enjoyed scaring people.

I guess the zoo is probably out, especially since the big HUGE bird is waiting for me to return so he can attack.

Anyway, have fun bird watching (from inside, with the windows shut - can't trust those birdies).
( 22 comments — Leave a comment )

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