Backyard Birds: Observation & Identification

How many of you participated in this year’s Great Backyard Bird Count (GBBC) with the Cornell Lab of Ornithology? We actually report birds year round with eBird, but it’s fun to take part in the GBBC and follow the data that comes in from all over the world. Did you know you can get data from previous years and watch the trending? Big storms like Sandy will have an effect on bird migration as well and it seems this year some birds are out of place as a result of being blown over with the storm.

This year was different for us being in a new place. We moved from a yard that was mostly cleared in the back with a stand of large pines and a few other large trees and a front yard with mature spruces and a tulip poplar to a yard that is almost totally wooded with a small clearing for a raised bed garden. The front yard is just this side of a meadow and we are surrounded by neighbor’s trees and a wooded section of park behind us. Our new environment means new birds!

BlogShe Wrote:Bird Watching

As a bonus, we were given a squirrel buster bird feeder by generous grandparents at Thanksgiving. Now that we have a proper feeder, both sets of grandparents (both avid birders) recommended the black oil sunflower seeds. I’d say it’s a success. This feeder is a busy place. In fact, I had just filled this feeder (see picture below) the day before this was taken.

BlogSheWrote: Chickadee
I was a couple feet from the feeder when I took this picture this morning- the chickadees didn’t mind me being there. The other birds- not so much.
BlogSheWrote: Common Redpoll
You can’t see the coloring very well, but this is a common red poll which winters in the states and migrates to northern Canada to breed. We had about 6-8 around the feeder over the weekend.

Which birds did we see this year? 

  • dark eyed juncos
  • common red polls
  • cardinals
  • blue jays
  • goldfinches
  • chickadees
  • red bellied woodpeckers
  • white breasted nuthatches
BlogSheWrote: Golfinch
A goldfinch in his winter garb- can you see him?
BlogSheWrote: dark eyed junco
Our dark eyed junco friend- this was a few weeks ago, but yesterday we saw Mrs. Junco for the first time. Interesting…

For the first time ever we saw some cedar wax wings devouring berries from the bushes next to our house. I’d never seen one before, but we were able to identify it pretty quickly with our field guide to NY birds.

BlogSheWrote: cedar waxwing
This guy was right outside the window in our dining room where my laptop is- this was back in November.

BlogSheWrote: birding basket

Although it’s sleeting outside as I type this, I know spring is on the way- even in central NY! As I was standing out by the feeder today trying to get some decent pictures with my awesome cell phone camera (sarcasm intended), I noticed that the sounds are changing outdoors. The birds have become very chatty- not the random kind of chatty, but the “C’mon Sweet Thing I look good, I have a great voice, and I can build a slick nest” kind of chatty. Plus, Mr. Cardinal keeps strutting his stuff on perch all the way around the feeder. He takes a seed from every hole and makes his call. I wonder how the ladies are feeling about him. There are a few Mrs. Cardinals hanging around.

I come from where the weather breaks in March and the flowers start to peek out…but now I know the signs of spring are here even if the weather doesn’t show it. I know I’m used to living here now (after 13 years) because I went out with just a fleece on today and commented to myself on the warm breeze- it was 39. I saw a dead skunk on the roadside and a ‘possum crossing the road the other night. All signs of spring. In a few weeks I expect we’ll hear our first red winged blackbird- my favorite call of all! It conjures up warm summer days like no other call!

I was reading recently in Margaret Feinberg’s book, Wonderstruck: Awaken to the Nearness of God, and as she reflects on God as the Creator she says, “…if God spoke creation into existence, should we be surprised when creation speaks back to us about God?”

Indeed if you listen and observe, if you are still long enough and you teach your children to do the same, you can experience the signature of the Creator in the natural world.

Have you made time for observing today?

Similar Posts