My Bird Watching and ‘The Great Backyard Bird Count’

You’ve heard of activities that lack excitement being compared to watching paint dry, right? So would you put counting birds in the same category?

robinbutton_enI’m not an avid birdwatcher, but I enjoy seeing the ones that flit through our trees or stop at the bird feeder throughout the day to snatch a few nutty morsels. As a member of a Facebook Backyard Bird Watchers group I was urged to participate in the annual global bird count hosted by The Cornell Lab of Ornithology and the National Audubon Society. The Great Backyard Bird Count begins today.

Juncos 2
Dark-eyed “Oregon” Junco

I’m not expecting any appearances of rare species to report. There won’t even be a particularly large quantity of birds to add to my tally sheet. Just the average everyday visitors, stopping by for their daily snacks. There haven’t been a lot this winter, but I’ll record what I see.

Somehow I don’t think I’ll learn as much from watching birds as I would from watching people. (See Monday’s post for that discussion.) But there is value in today’s pursuit.

The news release says, “Bird watchers from more than 100 countries are expected to participate in the 17th annual Great Backyard Bird Count (GBBC), February 14–17, 2014. Anyone anywhere in the world can count birds for at least 15 minutes on one or more days of the count and enter their sightings…. The information gathered by tens of thousands of volunteers helps track the health of bird populations at a scale that would not otherwise be possible.”

Since moving to this rural area I’ve kept a page in the back of my journal where I list the species that have dropped in during the passing seasons, either in the backyard or at the marsh. When I reviewed it, I was surprised to discover there have been thirty-seven different ones! I have photos of several, but not all. Maybe that should be a future project. It’s not as if I don’t have enough projects on the go. I’m not a serious birdwatcher, either. Still, these little feathered creatures fascinate me. Why else would I bother to count them?

What’s your favourite kind of bird? Do you enjoy watching them and do you encourage them to visit your yard by putting out suet and seeds?


“Beside them the birds of the heavens dwell;
they sing among the branches.”

Psalm 104:12

~  ~  ~


Published by Carol

A freelance writer of fiction and non-fiction living on the West Coast of Canada.

5 thoughts on “My Bird Watching and ‘The Great Backyard Bird Count’

  1. We do have a feeder, and it has helped my ability to identify goldfinches (even in their winter plumage), downy and redheaded woodpeckers, juncoes, Carolina wrens, nuthatches, and titmice. Once we even had a rose-breasted grosbeak.

    Our cat likes to sit right in front of that window and watch them, too, even though he can’t get at them. We call it “Cat TV.”

    1. I think the chickadees are my favourite, despite being the most common and regular visitors here. They’re also the most frustrating to try and photograph because they constantly flit around and never sit still long enough for me to get the camera well focused.

      Our dog likes watching them, too (it’s our son’s Lab that’s pictured here), although I think squirrel-watching comes first.

  2. Last year I spotted a Jay sitting on the street light outside our window…I wasn’t aware we had them here on the west side of the state (Washington).

    1. Yes, there are Jays on the west coast… the royal blue and black Steller’s Jays are regulars here, and higher up in the coastal mountains there are Grey/Canada Jays, or what we always called Camp Robbers. In central and eastern BC there are the blue and white Blue Jays, but we don’t have them here. All the jays seem quite bold and cheeky. 🙂

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