Guest Post: It’s for the birds…

Red-bellied Woodpecker in the Oak Tree

Project FeederWatch, created by the Cornell Lab of Ornithology, is not only a great way to help scientists study bird populations, it’s a terrific way to share one of my favorite activities, bird watching, with my awesome homeschooled daughter and learn a bit more about the creatures that visit our little backyard corner of God’s Creation.  We studied birds extensively last year with Apologia Exploring Creation Zoology 1 Flying Creatures.  Project Feederwatch is a great way to keep that learning current in a fun way doing a little Citizen Science!

The process couldn’t be simpler: after signing up, choose two consecutive days to watch every week and record the MAXIMUM amount of each species seen at any one time. Count any birds that are drawn to the feeder, birdbath, flowers, fruit trees, etc. and send in the results by mail or online!

On our Wednesday and Thursday Counting Days, our most frequent visitors are a dozen-and-a-half house sparrows that flit back and forth to the feeder from the safety of some nearby English Ivy. They are joined at the seed and suet by small groups of Carolina chickadees, house finches, purple finches, Carolina wrens, European sparrows, blue jays, a beautiful red-bellied woodpecker, and an occasional northern cardinal or two. Beneath the feeder, a handful of mourning doves share the spilled sunflower and safflower seeds with a few white-throated sparrows. A Northern Mockingbird shows up every morning for a drink at the birdbath, and will grab a piece of orange from the feeding tray when I have a spare piece to put out.

While we have had cameo appearances by a downy woodpecker and a dark-eyed junco, the birds seem to have access to our counting schedule and enjoy saving the rarer birds for the days when we aren’t recording them! Tufted titmice, red-winged blackbirds, hairy woodpeckers, even a Cooper’s Hawk – they’ve all showed up with grins on their little beaks knowing full well we can’t brag about them unless it’s Wednesday or Thursday!

Feederwatch Booklet with lots of information and instructions!

The biggest avian insult came the TUESDAY (get it? Not our counting days!) after Christmas, when a flock of over 200 robins, flanked by over 100 sparrows and red-winged blackbirds descended on our backyard American Standard Holly.  It started the day weighed down with beautiful, juicy red berries and finished the afternoon stripped of all nutritional value.  By Wednesday, COUNTING DAY, all that was left of the robins was a sticky coating of purple holly poop on every flat surface in the backyard, and neighboring surrounds.

I haven’t seen a robin since.

Oh well, the happy chattering of the wrens lifts my spirits and reminds me all birds are welcome here whenever they choose to show. We’ll be watching!

Guest post by Ralph Garner! 

Visit our Pinterest Board for Garner Project Feederwatch Bird Sitings!  We have pinned images from Cornell site www.allaboutbirds.org/guide since it’s difficult to get good photos that show the markings, beaks etc really well. 

Get in on the act!  Today begins a 4 day bird count that might be easier for some than the 6 month long feeder watch.  Visit the Cornell Lab site for more details!  Fun and easy!  Project Feederwatch website is www.feederwatch.org  the Great Backyard Birdcount is www.birdsource.org/gbbc

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