Sunday, February 09, 2020

Post 6704 - Winter Bird Count

I missed post 6700 as it went by.  Hundreds don't seem as much a milestone as they did when I started.

My wife does the Audubon winter bird count every year.  It is a single weekend, and one rule is that you can record only those birds you can see from your property. Hawks flying over your house count; hawks seen on the way to church do not. Also, the number of each species that you count are the maximum number that you see at any one time.  If you see four Blue Jays at 7AM, and then three at 7:30AM, you do not add them.  Four is the number you report.

Therefore, Sunday's count is less exciting, as one is seldom seeing much that is new, only counting to see if there are more Juncos at one go today than there were yesterday. With small birds flying in and out to the feeders, it is tough to count quickly enough and know what you are seeing.  It first inspires humor, and then pity in the husband watching the wife do this. Unusual birds must be accompanied by a photograph to be counted.

This year's totals

16 Juncos
7 Blue Jays
2 Chickadees
9 Goldfinch
1 Downy Woodpecker
3 Mourning Doves
1 Crow
1 Red-bellied Woodpecker
2 Starlings
1 Cardinal
1 Tufted Titmouse
1 White Breasted Nuthatch

Amazing that they make it through a NH winter at all, really.

They also want account of the two types of squirrels here, red and gray.  We had two gray squirrels.


james said...

Our bird-feeders pull in chickadees, sparrows, juncos, a cardinal, squirrels, and a few rabbits canvassing the spillage. A friend's bird-feeder appears to have fed a hawk, if the feathers scattered about were any guide.

Galen said...

We all know that the plural of anecdote is not data, but I can't resist asking. How do these counts compare to previous years? We hear about the recent insectapocalypse, a 29% drop in North American bird populations since 1970, etc. Yet in my neck of the woods, suburban wildlife has never been more prevalent: raccoons, foxes, coyotes, bears, hawks, owls, wild turkeys, etc. All fairly high on the food chain. I haven't noticed any drop off in highly visible bird species such as cardinals.

Your thoughts? Thank you.

Fo4Ho1 said...

The qualitative assessment here 50 miles inland on the mid Atlantic seaboard is that nothing has changed. Same assortment of birds as noted above. Rough guesstimate of numbers would be that they are comparable to the previous 5 years.

Assistant Village Idiot said...

I think comparison is difficult because this particular habitat is unchanged. Where there has been new construction, things would be different. And those places undergoing a lot of change in select areas, such as North Dakota, might be more susceptible to some species no longer being viable.

When one species loses, another gains. When I was a boy, pheasants were encountered in the woods, even in the city of Manchester. I still encounter grouse in the woods, but no pheasants. There are wild turkeys now, but I believe those were intentionally reintroduced.

Assistant Village Idiot said...

And now I see that ring-necked pheasants were themselves stocked in NH, and require open grassland, which has gradually reverted to forest here now that we have fewer farms and don't have pasture and hayfields as much. The human population has doubled since my youth as well, so that would mean houses went into some of those hayfield. Doubly true since there are fewer people per house now.