What a treat to look out the kitchen window and see a variety of birds, perching in the trees and bushes, hopping on the ground, or flying to perch on the seed feeder. This evening (cold, 28’, with wind chills in the upper teens) I saw juncos, a pair of cardinals, two mourning doves, two black capped chickadees, a blue jay and several house finches. A downy woodpecker (see below and right: cardinal photos courtesy of CBK) walked up and down the tree that our suet feeder is hung on (and a squirrel did its best to hand upside down to eat the suet!).
Look for pairs of Canada Geese (or overhead for the beautiful V of a flock in flight). Red tailed hawks are commonly seen. HP residents who live close to bodies of water may see a great blue heron or a bald eagle; there are several types of ducks and other water birds that can be seen at the reservoir throughout the winter. (And don’t forget the wild turkeys!)
Bird watching is fascinating and feeding the birds (especially in winter) is very popular. I happened to read about the GBBC in the Record yesterday, went on line to find more information (www.BirdCount.org), and was amazed to get over 3.6 million results for a search of “backyard birdwatching”! There are incredible online resources for everyone interested in birdwatching, from information on birding basics, bird guides, feeding preferences, to activities to involve children, local birdwatching clubs, hikes, etc. …As it turns out, four of the birds I saw in my backyard in Harrington Park this evening are on the list of sixteen “most popular” birds according to http://www.allaboutbirds.org/guide/search. Other helpful sites (and there are many more) are: http://www.thebackyardbirdwatcher.com and http://www.birdfeeding.org. (This is a photo of our feeder the morning after Winter Storm Nemo; other photos were taken by CB Kennedy early in Feb at the reservoir or in her backyard).
Another helpful site was http://www.birdsource.org/gbbc from which I took the following information about the 16th Annual GBBC: The Great Backyard Bird Count is an annual four-day event that engages bird watchers of all ages in counting birds to create a real-time snapshot of where the birds are. Everyone is welcome–from beginning bird watchers to experts. It takes as little as 15 minutes on one day, or you can count for as long as you like each day of the event. It’s free, fun, and easy—and it helps the birds….Why count birds? Scientists and bird enthusiasts can learn a lot by knowing where the birds are. Bird populations are dynamic; they are constantly in flux. No single scientist or team of scientists could hope to document and understand the complex distribution and movements of so many species in such a short time. Scientists use the GBBC information, along with observations from other citizen-science projects… to get the “big picture” about what is happening to bird populations. The Great Backyard Bird Count is led by the Cornell Lab of Ornithology and National Audubon Society, with Canadian partner Bird Studies Canada and sponsorship from Wild Birds Unlimited.
Finally, while browsing around I came across this wonderful article that ends with: Feeding the birds in the winter is a wonderful way to get your nature fix with very little effort. Just picture yourself sitting next to the window on a chilly January morning, your hands warming around a morning cup of cocoa, as you watch the chickadees, nuthatches, and purple finches darting about the perches of your tube feeders; juncos and snow buntings hopping on the ground in search of fallen seeds; a family of blue jays screaming in to take over the platform and hopper feeders; a downy woodpecker working on a cake of suet. A squirrel scampers nearby, hoovering up fallen seeds as quickly as he finds them. And all you had to do to witness your wild neighbors is put out a little seed. It’s a happy thing. http://www.adirondackalmanack.com/2009/11/feeding-birds-tuppence-a-bag.html (thank you Maddie Phinney for this photo of her backyard feeder the morning after the 14″ snowfall)