Saturday, February 8, 2014

Looking for a Valentine's Day Activity?

Looking for something romantic to do for Valentine's Day this year?  
How about talking a nice romantic walk outside together?
Maybe with a pencil and paper..
while counting birds?

Eastern Bluebird
Okay, so the bird counting might or might not be your idea of romance, but this Valentine's Day is the start of this year's Great Backyard Bird Count!

Started in 1998 by the National Audubon Society and the Cornell Lab of Ornithology, the Great Backyard Bird Count occurs one weekend every February, and this year the count is on 
February 14 - 17.

Downy Woodpecker
How to participate?  Just count how many and what type of birds you see in a 15 minute chunk of time.  Then sign up and log your results on the GBBC website - or, if you are a smart phone lover, there's even an free app for it! 

Count me!  Count me!
You can stay inside (and cuddle with your significant other!) and count the birds you see out the window, or you can go outside.  You can count one day, or each day of the count.  You can count for just 15 minutes, or you can count longer, as long as it is in 15 minute increments.

Carolina Chickadee
The data gathered in the Great Backyard Bird Count is very helpful in providing info about how bird populations are doing, if bird ranges are changing, and what habitats different birds live in.  A big change in numbers of a bird population can indicate a change in their environment that needs to be looked at more closely.

Last year participants in 111 countries documented over 4,000 different species of birds for a grand total of over 33,000,000 birds.  What a great amount of data!  

American Goldfinches enjoying one of the feeders after our last snow storm
Not sure how to identify all of the birds you see?  The Cornell Lab has a great website to help identify birds.  And if you can't identify them all, that's okay, just report the ones you can.  

hmm... having trouble identifying this bird..
So next weekend, consider giving the birds some love and making bird counting part of your Valentine plans...

Yellow-rumped Warbler
though I must admit, my kids were a lot more excited about this activity than my husband :)
Happy bird counting!


the Great Backyard Bird Count website:  birdcount.org
more about the Great Backyard Bird Count: gbbc.birdcount.org/about/

18 comments:

  1. It will be fun for you to compare the birds you see at the new house compared to what you had before. Valentine's day is a good day for this to begin - it's easy to remember!

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    1. So far I've been seeing many of the same birds at my feeders - I think the range of many of birds go up and down the East coast. It will be interesting to see what else shows up, especially as we go into spring and summer!

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  2. I had so much fun on the bird site that I almost forgot to comment. I finally figured out what birds have been visiting, dark-eyed Juncos. Before this tidbit of knowledge I was calling them white bellied gray birds. Oh, my.

    I'll be posting my results to the site on Valentine's Day. And that furry bird in the feeder, I wonder what species he/she is?

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    1. I'm glad you were able to find your bird! It took me quite awhile to id birds when I first started bird watching. Typing 'little brown bird' into google just never seemed to do the trick :)

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  3. I can't wait for the GBBC this year. I hope to see many more birds again this year. I do not have feeders except for one suet feeder so we welcome the visitors here as they eat from the garden.

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    1. My suet feeder is really hopping here. The bluebirds actually eat from the suet feeder, which I was a little surprised at since my bluebirds in North Carolina did not. I'll be glad to work on my garden this summer so the birds have a little more to glean from the garden next winter!

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  4. Replies
    1. At least it starts on an easy day to remember this year!

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  5. I love the bluebird photo. It really does look like it is telling you to count it. Because of feeders, it is almost impossible to bird count here. Yesterday the yard was overrun with birds, starlings, doves, jays and cardinals as the more numerous. There were the sparrows too, but less of them because of the around 70 starlings. See the problem? It is such a mass of activity for getting even an estimate count. I do have my packet though.

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    1. Oh my, that's a lot of starlings! That's too bad :(

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  6. I wish our native birds were as colourful as yours ! We do have some gorgeous ones, but they tend to be very shy. The sparrows tend to rule in my garden !

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    1. The bluebirds are fairly shy as well, most of my pictures of them are when I'm inside or far away being mostly shielded by something!

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  7. Good idea! I'll check with the hubby and see if he wants to participate. Poor little birdies have had a tough year along with the rest of us.

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    1. I know, I feel bad for all the wildlife out in the freezing temps this year! What a harsh winter it's been for many.

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  8. Great photos, Indie! I love the one of the bluebird with open wing, especially. Yes, the GBBC is on my calendar. I just hope I have better luck than last year, when they all seemed to disappear during the weekend of the count. We've had a lot of activity at the feeders the last two weeks, so I'm hoping the snow doesn't melt and the birds all stick around for the weekend.

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    1. I always have a lot more birds at the feeders when there's a snowstorm coming! I think most of the East coast is getting snow during the week, though, as opposed to the weekend. I hope you see a lot of birds for your count this year, though!

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  9. Cute post! And I think the one you are unsure of is called the "Squirrel-y Bird" or as he is also known: "Whaaat?-This-food-isn't-for-me?" Bird.

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    1. Ha! Those very well could be the names of this very strange, but very determined bird!

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