Launched in 1998 by the Cornell Lab of Ornithology and National Audubon Society, the Great Backyard Bird Count was the first online citizen-science project to collect data on wild birds and to display results in near real time. Each February, for four days, people around the world are invited to spend time in their favorite places watching and counting as many birds as they can find and reporting them to the project. These observations help scientists better understand global bird populations before one of their annual migrations. You can participate at home by visiting www.birdcount.org
For four days—February 12 through February 15, 2021— Dharma's Garden participated in this global movement to watch, learn about, count, and celebrate birds
The Great Backyard Bird Count
Scroll down to see our updates and pictures of feathered friends we spotted around the farm!
Day One - February 12
Great Horned Owls
What a cold, wintry day to start birdwatching! The morning was so fridgid, we didn't see any bird activity for the first few hours. Mid-morning, a flock of Canadian geese flew overhead. By late-morning, the chickadees were out chattering in the trees. As the sun finally peaked from the cold grey sky around noon, we saw a dark-eyed junco (and heard another, calling back and forth) and watched a woodpecker searching for snacks in the trunk of a scots pine. The afternoon brought more visits from chickadees, and we even heard the spring song of a house finch in the nearby trees (though we couldn't see it). Just before dusk, the great horned owls started hooting, and swooped in to claim their territory for the night. The hooting continued into the night.
Day Two - February 13
The morning started out brisk but sunny, and the birds were as excited as we were to see the rising sun bright and beautiful, warming the winter scene. Chickadees were the first of our feathered friends to make their presence known—we see both black-capped chickades and mountain chickadees here, though they are hard to tell apart when moving, or from a distance. Crow was next, making quite a racket. Then we heard the calls of two mourning doves, and saw them talking back and forth between two cottonwood trees. By mid-morning, it was quite sunny, and a chorus of housefinches were singing their songs from just about every tree around the perimeter of the meadow. We watched a dark-eyed junco hop around a Russian olive tree, and a lone mallard duck fly past. Just past noon, a large flock of 100+ Canadian geese flew over, headed northward. The day quickly grew colder from then on—single digits and dropping fast. All the birdsong went silent for the rest of the day, though we were treated to one final visit from a beautiful red-tailed hawk perched high in a cottonwood tree.
Day Three - February 14
Red Napped Sapsucker
The day started out so bitter cold (-9°F) that there was zero noticeable bird activity for several hours. Eventually, by mid-morning, we saw some chickadee activity at our feeder, and chickadees were the only birds that we noticed most of the day. That's until 4pm, when a group of 5 magpies suddenly congregated in our crabapple tree and started making quite a ruckus, then flying to the ground and seeming to attack something there. That something was a juvenile red-napped sapsucker (a type of woodpecker). We shooed the magpies away from the little injured bird and brought it in out of the bitter cold. Unfortunately, before we could get the bird to Greenwood Wildlife Rehabilitation Center for proper care, it died of its injuries.
Day Four - February 15
Today the ultra-harsh cold finally gave way a little and the temps rose into the double digits for the first time in days. One little black-capped chickadee seems to have taken a liking to our feeder and is making frequent morning visits. This morning also saw a visit from two northern flickers, and then a large group of magpies (often called a "mischief" or a "tiding") moved in really owned the territory for the rest of the day. It was really interesting and amusing watching the antics of the magpies throughout the day—you can really se why they are called a "mischief"! We also watched a stellar's jay and heard his wonderful vocalizations, and also a couple of white-breasted nuthatch hopping up and down the trunks of the scots pines looking for a meal.