Wonders of Winter

It comes as no surprise that watching birds is a regular activity in my family. My mother-in-law holds a Ph.D in Ornithology, and her passion for our feathered friends has seriously rubbed off on my son, who has become quite an accomplished birder over the last few years. Our love of birds has taken us to Costa Rica, Ecuador, and many spots in the US (posts on these amazing trips to come!). We maintain bird feeders and bird-friendly habitat in our yard, and participate in several citizen science projects involving birds.

A white-breasted nuthatch on the suet feeder

A white-breasted nuthatch on the suet feeder

House finches and a field sparrow on the tube feeder

House finches and a field sparrow on the tube feeder

One of these is Project FeederWatch coordinated by the Cornell Laboratory of Ornithology. FeederWatch runs from mid-November through early April, and engages us in identifying and counting the different species of birds that visit our yard in a 48-hour period, along with recording some basic weather data.  In addition, we provide a profile of our yard including number and types of feeders we put up, the size and vegetative composition, and the presence of important resources like water and cover.  The data we and other FeederWatchers collect help scientists track broadscale movements of winter bird populations and long-term trends in the distribution and abundance of birds.

Today, we are in the middle of our second watch period of this 2013-2014 season, the 27th season in FeederWatch history.  We look forward to many more days of observing the types and numbers of birds that visit our yard in the coming months.

A fox sparrow in the forsythia bush

A fox sparrow in the forsythia bush

A beautiful Carolina wren

A beautiful Carolina wren

The highlights for today were one brown creeper (a first for our yard in the 11+ years we’ve lived here), three fox sparrows (we’ve only ever observed one before), 43 dark-eyed juncos and a favorite of mine, a Carolina wren!

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