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Saturday, February 18, 2012

The Great Backyard Bird Count - 2012

After being woken up by an impressive thunderstorm in which we got a reported 1.7 inches of rain, I wondered if perhaps I might have to take a rain check for the Great Backyard Bird Count.

However, it had more or less stopped raining by 7 am and when I stepped outside to put birdseed along the (soggy) fence, there were already a throng of birds out there, pecking around on the ground.

I ate breakfast and had some coffee and by 8 I was ready to start my official count.

Although it was cold and grey out there, it wasn't actually raining and conditions were pretty good for the count.  The birds certainly seemed willing to cooperate, anyway:-)  I counted from the comfort of the dining room.

Most populous were the Chipping Sparrows, but the photo above  was the only photo I managed to snap of them.

Here are my totals as submitted for 2012:

23 Chipping Sparrows
15 House Sparrows
6 Mourning Doves
3 White-Winged Doves
1 Carolina Chickadee(I think I saw two really, but you have to count the total number you see at one time, not a cumulative total)
4 Blue Jays
6 Northern Cardinals
1 Northern Mockingbird
1 Red-Bellied Woodpecker
2 Downy Woodpeckers
4 (Too many) Brown-headed cowbirds - later, after I had submitted my tally, I counted even more of them.

We have at least three pairs of Northern Cardinals that nest nearby, in spite of the loss of habitat either side.  None of them have chosen to occupy the Cardinal nesting shelf we put up yet, but perhaps they will this spring.

 The White-Winged Doves and Mourning Doves were quite content to share the seeds along the back wall.

 And they shared with Mrs. Cardinal and Mr. Brown-Headed (you're not welcome in my garden) Cowbird.

And they also shared with -- hmmmm, can't quite place the species of the rather strange and hairy bird in the middle of the photo....

We're supposed to have lovely weather tomorrow, so I'm going to count again tomorrow.  You can join in too -- Great Backyard Bird Count

Words and photographs by Jayne Wilson, Green and Serene, Jayne's Country Garden.

Thursday, February 16, 2012

Are You Ready for the Great Backyard Bird Count?

This year's Great Backyard Bird Count runs from Friday, February 17th through Monday, February 20th.

This will be my third year participating, and I have to say I'm excited about it.

 Red-Bellied Woodpecker, Simon Tan, Texas

The idea behind this "Citizen Science" project is to create a real-time snapshot of where the birds are across the continent. This can provide answers to questions such as how the cold winters in some areas are influencing bird populations, and  how the timing of bird migrations compares to previous years.

 It's simple to do, it's fun and it's FREE.

You can count for as little as 15 minutes, or as long as you like each day of the event.  You count the highest number of birds of each species seen together at any one time and report your findings online checklist at the Great Backyard Bird Count website.

Click here for more details on how to participate.

As the count progresses, you can keep track online and see reports from your area and around the country.  I live in fairly small town north of Houston and last year I think there were two other people from my area who filed reports.  It would be interesting to know who they were! 

Words and photographs by Jayne Wilson, Green and Serene, Jayne's Country Garden.

Sunday, February 5, 2012

Squirrels in the Rain

I got woken up by a pretty spectacular thunderstorm Saturday morning.  Not that I'm complaining, we certainly will take all the rain we can get! 

I was surprised to notice, while I was having breakfast, that there was a squirrel out on the feeder, getting soaked, but enjoying the goodies in the feeder, which I just filled up the day before.

He was still out there an hour or so later, when the rain had let up a bit and the sky was a bit brighter, so I was able to get some photos. If you click on the photo to see the full size, I think you can see the rain drops.

Suddenly I realized there wasn't just one squirrel out there.  Another one was on the ground under the feeder, picking up seeds and nuts that had dropped.  As I appeared at the door with my camera, this second one scooted across the lawn and up the pine tree.

It wasn't until I downloaded the photos that I realized the squirrel appeared to be saying grace!

I'm keeping the feeder full, I hope they stay around.

Words and photographs by Jayne Wilson, Green and Serene, Jayne's Country Garden.