Bird Counts..

Here is a typical post from me.  I won’t likely be posting in depth articles everyday, but I plan to once a week at least.  I will also include photos of what I shot for the week, or more often.  I do, however, try to study patterns of birds to make my photography less time consuming.  And, I will be posting my notes here, too.

Like you, I am busy with a day job, small kids, a family, church, friends, hobbies, and other random things that get in the way.  So, I don’t have 6 hours a day to sit in the backyard, especially in January, and look for the birdies to come in for their photos.  I need to plan for the minutes I can cram in.  The best way to do this, I’ve found, is to grab a pen and paper and count the birds as I sit and watch.  I try and count for 15 minutes at least.  When I do, I note the time of day, weather, and temperature.  Then, I jot down what I see. 

After awhile (I haven’t been doing this a year yet), I see patterns start to develop in my yard.  For instance, I notice that 1 hour after sunrise is the most active time of day for my feeders.  I also notice that birds come in like clockwork on the lunch hour.  Who’da thunk?  And, of course, things pick up again around dusk.  So, I don’t need to take that 2:30pm break and set up all my equipment, while fighting the harshness of bright, midday sunshine, only to frustrate the dingy-doongies out of myself because nothing happened.  Since I have studied some easy patterns, I know in advance that the 230pm time slot is likely to be a waste of my time.  (Of course, that’s when I will see a Bald Eagle waving an American Flag sit in my lawn chairs.  But, I’ll have to live with missing that event.)

I encourage you to do the same.  Count your birds.  Get to know your regulars.  And, after some time, compile a list of the species you have seen in your backyard.  It gives you opportunities to save time, but it also can tell you which habitat to plan and design around to cater to the birds you naturally have in the neighborhood.  Of course, we’ll get to an article on that subject down the road.  Here is what my typical daily count looks like, and I’ve attached my backyard list at the end.  Remember, I have only been in this house for going on 60 days.  So, my list will surely still grow as I landscape and aim to attract new birds.

November 8th…715am…46F…clear.  No new sightings.

I saw the regular crowd this morning.  My finches scattered the minute I opened the blinds.  But, of course, came back immediately.  I think they may be getting used to my window popping open at random.  Seems the number is growing, though.  Today, I must have seen 8 fussing for space.  Occasionally, I will see an American Goldfinch with them, but usually it’s all House Finches….unless the Purple Finches have mixed in with them….they are hard to differentiate to such an amatuer as I. 

The Mourning Doves were on the ground sorting through the seeds with a squirrel.  And, a Dark-eyed Junco popped in but was spooked away before I could grab the camera. 

My latest issue, however, is the bullying Grackle crowd!  Those guys come in 24 strong and act like they just came off Murderer’s Row.  No one shows up when they arrive.  And, they can eat you out of house and home.  So, this is the 2nd morning I have gone outside to take the feeder down.  I don’t mind them in the platform feeder so much, but when they get over to the No-No, mesh feeder, I take issue.  They can’t hurt it, but I can’t control what they take, either.  The Grackles would be more welcome if they adhered to my rationing, but so would my kids.  (Buh-dum-bum psssh!)

I have a neat group of Eurasian Tree Sparrows I thought was about a dozen strong, but has proven to be much stronger in numbers here.  And, that may explain the lack of House Sparrows.  I have some Pampas Grass in the yard behind me that they adore.  A couple weeks ago, I noticed them sampling some seeds from the heads.  The stalk would bow down to the ground when a bird landed on it and bob back up like a see-saw.  I want to get a picture of that happening really bad.  But, they didn’t stick around long because I suppose the seeds weren’t ripe yet to their tastes.  As of today, they are back on the grass, though.  I see a couple on stalks right now as I type.  I watched yesterday as three sparrows tried to land on the same branch.  It crashed to the ground with the third bird like an anvil was dropped on it.  The birds scattered and the stalk shot back up into the air.  I was imagining the scene if just one naive bird stayed put!  I wonder at what point the words, “holy shiiiiiit!” would have crossed his mind?

To round things out, I saw a lone Blue Jay (well, my daughter did), a few American Robins, and a Red-Bellied Woodpecker over on a power pole.  So, in all, and including the Grackles, I saw about 50 birds this morning because of my feeders.

Here is the list of species I have seen.  I will get to regular visitors and numbers of which in another post.  Enjoy, and Keep Chuggin’!

19 Species so far.  The stars are species I have at least a crude picture of on file.  The goal is to have a picture for everybody and start replacing the shots as I improve them…

– Carolina Wren
– Eurasian Tree Sparrow*…aab lookup
– Northern Cardinal
– Tufted Titmouse
– Black-capped Chickadee*
– Blue Jay
– White-breasted Nuthatch*
– Ruby-throated Hummingbird
– Mourning Dove*
– Common Grackle
– American Goldfinch*
– Eastern Phoebe*?
– Hairy Woodpecker
– Downy Woodpecker
– American Robin*
– Brown-Headed Cowbird
– Red-Bellied Woodpecker
– Northern Mockingbird
– House Finch



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