We counted on Monday, the last day for the 2014 Great backyard Bird Count. Had the event been last week-during the ice storm, more species would’ve been recorded. A warm sunny day saw a bit less activity at feeders than the first half of February when treacherous weather brought a slew of new visitors to this North Georgia yard. But with this warmer weather and the first glimpse of spring… a new glass bird feeder or two always helps to celebrate!
Stationary, the count was limited to the backyard where most of our feeders and baths are placed. Superior habitat occurs with mature pines, shrubs and hardwoods. By the way, the greatest benefit to glass feeders is the non-porous surface. Bacteria and mold can not penetrate surfaces like wood, this makes them healthier for birds. Plus they’re much easier to clean.
But back to the count: Again this year, participation increased over last with 131 countries reporting checklists, as opposed to 110 last year. Although data is still being entered, here’s a brief overview of country, number of species reported, and the number of checklists for that country. Pretty impressive!
United States 643 112,281
Canada 234 12,340
India 806 3,195
Australia 492 854
Mexico 658 451
Costa Rica 554 165
United Kingdom 155 150
Puerto Rico 113 150
Portugal 177 134
Honduras 335 104
Here’s our list for a 30 minute count: 22 species… not too shabby 🙂
- Mourning Dove 4
- Red Bellied Woodpecker 1
- Downy Woodpecker 1
- Hairy Woodpecker 1
- Eastern Phoebe 1
- Blue Jay 2
- Carolina Chickadee 3
- Tufted Titmice 6
- White-breasted Nuthatch 2
- Brown-headed Nuthatch 1
- Carolina Wren 2
- Eastern Bluebird 2
- Chipping Sparrows 9
- Cardinal 6
- Robin 3
- American Goldfinch 11
- Eastern Towhee 2
- White-throated Sparrow 1
- Pine Warbler 8
- Yellow-rumped Warbler 2
- European Starlings 2
- American Crow 3
Cornell’s data won’t be complete until the end of the month, but they’ve listed some noticeable trends:
After last year’s “superflight,” this year’s GBBC reports for 10 irruptive species (mostly finches) are down considerably. This includes reports for the White-winged and Red crossbills, Common and Hoary redpolls, Pine and Evening grosbeaks, Pine Siskin, Purple Finch, Red-breasted Nuthatches, and Bohemian Waxwings. These are believed to be natural fluctuations in numbers because of variation in seed crops.
Snowy Owl Invasion Continues
A massive irruption of Snowy Owls into the northeastern, mid-Atlantic, and Great Lakes States of the U.S., as well as southeastern Canada, is easily seen in GBBC numbers. Preliminary results show participants reported more than 2,500 Snowy Owls in 25 states and 7 provinces of the U.S. and Canada!
The Polar Vortex Effect
The frigid cold in many parts of North America has resulted in unusual movements of waterfowl and grebes. With the Great Lakes almost completely frozen, some species, such as the White-winged Scoter and the Long-tailed Duck, have fled the frozen lakes and stopped at inland locations where they are not usually found at this time of year.
You can still count birds!
Project FeederWatch is a winter-long survey of birds at your feeders. The lab is offering a 2-for-1 to join this fun project now.
You can always count birds!
Anytime, anywhere in the world you can report bird sightings through eBird. Use the same user name and password you used for the GBBC and keep on counting at eBird.org.
The Cornell Lab of Ornithology is a nonprofit membership institution interpreting and conserving the earth’s biological diversity through research, education, and citizen science focused on birds. Visit the Cornell Lab website at www.birds.cornell.edu
Audubon is dedicated to protecting birds and other wildlife and the habitat that supports them. Our national network of community-based nature centers and chapters, scientific and educational programs, and advocacy on behalf of areas sustaining important bird populations, engage millions of people of all ages and backgrounds in conservation. www.audubon.org
Bird Studies Canada administers regional, national, and international research and monitoring programs that advance the understanding, appreciation, and conservation of wild birds and their habitats. We are Canada’s national body for bird conservation and science, and we are a non-governmental charitable organization. www.birdscanada.org
Okay, so maybe this one’s not so decorative, but it’s popular among downy woodpeckers. In time for nesting season 2014, it’s getting a facelift complete with metal predator guard… thanks to squirrels, and my neighbor, Tom. Because the guard was attached without measuring the roof line (duh!) he re-fashioned it to fit perfectly under the roof. Our downy’s say thank you!
Although it may not seem like it… nesting season is under way! Even though there’s still snow, bird’s instincts tell them it’s time. With just a day or two of warmer temperatures and sunshine, there’s already less activity at feeders and more time spent scouting and claiming nest boxes.
So it’s time to get all possible nesting spots ready for vacancy! You may have to drag your ladder through the snow… what? You’re not crazy like us? Remove old nests, and be sure boxes are in good repair, securely attached to their mounts, with no loose or questionable parts. If the entries have been damaged or enlarged, simply attach a predator guard to remedy. Your birds will be pleased 🙂
Here’s one of our new decorative bird houses that won’t need repair because it’s vinyl and comes with metal predator guards already attached. In a stunning Merlot color for spring, it’s like a two-for-one, it will host two families in the dual nest compartments. Four entrances with two bedrooms are perfect for chickadees, bluebirds, titmice and other small backyard birds.
Townies, the birds who live in the burbs are more likely to see early successful broods and fledges this year than their counterpart county birds. Townies have it good, with feeders, water and housing offered in many scattered backyards. Country birds have a tougher go of it with the miserable weather and what looks to be, a late spring. We hope for the best.
Competition for nest sites is tough out there!
So to help wild birds thrive, just pick out a new decorative bird house and nab 10% off, plus free shipping on $95 or more for President’s Day (all week)… our thanks for housing the birds 🙂
Wishing you a Happy Valentine’s Day
Here’s to thoughts of spring and hungry migrating sprites heading north~
Have your hummingbird feeders ready and filled before they get to your location! We know, with ice storms and and snow everywhere, this seems ridiculous… but it won’t be long before the tiny sprites start their long and exhausting journey!
Staked Mini-Blossoms by Parasol are a fun way to feed and watch these amazing birds. Place them alone or in pairs, in flower pots or right in the ground to catch some antics from a different vantage. Hand blown recycled glass, these feeders last – and hummingbirds love them! Cadmium and lead-free, they’re good for the birds 🙂
Now come on spring!
The 17th Annual Great Backyard Bird Count wants you!
For just 15 minutes on any day from February 14th-17th
It’s open to everyone, regardless of experience, a fantastic science project for grades K-12 too. Do it this year… for the birds, for science, and for fun!Folks from more than 100 countries are expected to participate in this year’s Bird Count. Anyone can count birds for at least 15 minutes on one or more of the specified days and enter their sightings at www.BirdCount.org. The information gathered by tens of thousands of volunteers helps track the health of bird populations at a scale that would not otherwise be possible. The GBBC is a joint project of the Cornell Lab of Ornithology and the National Audubon Society with partner Bird Studies Canada. Great for educators and class projects; kindergarten thru high school, it gets kids outside and involved with the nature! We’ll be posting results online via links to The Cornell Lab once the count has ended!
Last year’s Great Backyard Bird Count shattered records after going global for the first time. Participants reported their bird sightings from all 7 continents, including 111 countries and independent territories. More than 34.5 million birds and 3,610 species were recorded – nearly one-third of the world’s total bird species documented in just four days.
It’s easy to get started… just a few simple steps
A more in-depth video from The Cornell Lab explains how to take part, why participation is needed, and what we can learn from the count.
It’s actually bigger than you think, and you really do matter!
Despite adverse conditions of the polar vortex and another extreme winter, bluebirds and others are on the move, searching for suitable digs to raise their young. Even though snow is covering most of the country, Mother Nature’s biological clock tells them it’s time, the calendar and number of daylight hours is what lets them know.
Early migrating birds on the Atlantic Flyway like swallows, warblers and flycatchers rely on insects as they island hop through the Caribbean onto Cuba. When making landfall along the gulf states, their usual smorgasbord of insects, flowers, fruits and berries will be be scarce. Many neo-tropicals, including hummingbirds run the risk of depleting fat reserves before they reach spring breeding grounds here in the US. Simply put, if you think the weather has been an inconvenience – it makes life miserable for wildlife as well, and many birds just won’t make it 🙁
Closer to home, over-wintering residents like bluebirds are already checking bluebird houses to claim for nesting and raising their broods. With snow on the ground and high temperatures right at freezing, you can hear birds belting out their breeding songs! If there was a way to say “wait… it’s still too cold!” we most certainly would-but then again, man is no force against nature.
Best we can do is help feathered friends along the way by offering fresh water, food, and birdhouses that are ready for nesting. If you haven’t done so already, please check your bluebird houses and remove old nests. Be sure they are secure, sturdy and ready for vacancy. If you can stomach it, live mealworms are their favorite, but suet, peanuts and sunflower hearts also offer much needed fat and proteins.
An Eastern Phoebe perches atop this bluebird house while the male checks out its interior. Phoebes won’t use these houses, but may take up residence in barn swallow nest cups if you offer them in sheltered areas around your home.
During this treacherous weather… please help birds and wildlife with supplemental feeding and a heated water source… thanks on behalf of the birds 🙂
Starlings, European starlings have got to be the most annoying, nastiest bird in our yard. It’s usually temporary and then they move on. But sure as day if they start nesting around here, a scope will be a near-future purchase! Yes, it’s legal to shoot them, aggressive, invasive and non-native, they wreak havoc on native nesting birds like bluebirds, tree swallows and purple martins. Not to mention, they make the worst mess and hog all the food too. Like magicians, a tray full of mealworms can disappear in no time flat!
These baffles were just removed and cleaned not long ago. Starting with pole-mount squirrel baffle (at top) the picture was snapped before cleaning the hanging one. Why? Because there was a post on a social site glorifying starlings! Huh, are you kidding me? How could anyone possibly favor this bird? Is that not one of the filthiest things you’ve ever seen?
Using a squirrel baffle won’t stop starlings, but it sure does stop squirrels if used properly. If a feeder is hanging from a pole or shepherd’s hook, the pole-mount ones work best. They’ll keep squirrels from shimmying up the pole, but the bottom of the baffle must be at least must be at least 4.5 feet from the ground. Otherwise, they’ll jump right passed it. These wrap-around styles are perfect if there’s a ground stake at bottom, or decorative piece at top. Smart, smart design!
If your bird feeder hangs from a branch, then a hanging baffle would be appropriate. It blocks squirrel’s from climbing down onto the feeder from above. Feeder placement however should be at east 8 feet away from anything squirrels might jump from (sideways) to gain feeder access. The bottom of the actual feeder should also be at least 4.5 feet from the ground.
These general specs usually work well… unless you happen to host the occasional uber-squirrel! Feeder and baffle placement may then require some tweaking to avoid the critter’s shenanigans in full! As far as the starlings? They do make traps for these pesky birds… but you’re on your own. Actually the website Sialis.org gives some great examples on starling and house sparrow control if you’re hosting native cavity nesters in your yard.
Be gone dreaded starlings and come on spring!