A SPECIAL WEEKEND OF BIRDS

This weekend, all the “birding groups” from Cornell Ornithological through Audubon are doing a four day birding experience titled “The Great Backyard Bird Count (GBBC).” It’s done in February because it precedes the first (earliest) bird migrations and give all the birding groups a good idea of how many local birds we have.

This is an international event. It’s free. You don’t need a camera or binoculars, just a pair of eyes. The amount of time it takes is entirely up to you. Fifteen minutes over the four day period is minimum. You do it entirely watching your own bird feeder, take a walk, sit on a bench in a park, along a river or shoreline, lake or stream. You keep track of what you see — including nothing. If you don’t see any birds, you report that too because it’s information and becomes part of the equation.


The GBBC starts today. It lasts for four days, from today, Friday, February 12 through Monday, February 15th. You can spend as much or as little time as you like counting. You can count for hours or for just 15-minutes. You can count several times each day or once. Whatever works for you is fine.


I tuned into the webinar that preceded it and got a couple of questions answered. If you see one Chickadee and you never see two Chickadees together, no matter how many times that bird comes back to get another seed, it is counted as one Chickadee. If, however, you see groups of Chickadees — two, three or four of them on a feeder or wherever, then you do your best to count them. I’ve seen as many as 26 Juncos on my deck at one time and more than a dozen Blue Jays at a time.

I often see large groups of Goldfinch and House Finch as well as multiple Tufted Titmouses and Nuthatches. We have just one Carolina Wren this winter. They are not normally winter birds and are usually migratory. Their loud and beautiful song is one of the sounds of spring. This year, one stayed through the winter and looks perfectly healthy.

Last year, I had dozens of Brown-Headed Cowbirds but I haven’t seen a single one this year. I have seen hundreds of crows — once — and never seen another crow on the deck. I have seen hawks and American (Bald) Eagles in our woods. You can’t miss an eagle — any eagle. Even the smallest eagles are bigger than other raptors, and a full-grown American Eagle is so striking, even when you know nothing about birds, you won’t miss them.


Video and Resources From
Great Backyard Bird Count Webinar

Share the Joy of Birds: Participate in the GBBC

During yesterday’s webinar, Great Backyard Bird Count (GBBC) project coordinators from Audubon, Birds Canada, and the Cornell Lab of Ornithology prepared viewers for the upcoming count which starts this Friday, February 12, and concludes on Monday, February 15. Watch birds from anywhere—not just your backyard—and count once or as many times as you like. Spend as little as 15 minutes or spend the long weekend counting. It’s up to you! Learn more about the GBBC and how to get involved.

Free Downloads: During the webinar, many of you asked for links to downloadable ID guides and Zoom backgrounds. Here they are—we hope you enjoy them!

If we didn’t answer your questions during the webinar, email us. Send all Cornell Lab of Ornithology general questions to cornellbirds@cornell.edu, or reach out directly to GBBC staff at gbbc@birds.cornell.edu. Email responses from the GBBC may be slow due to high volume. View the GBBC FAQs for quick answers to all your counting questions!

Every February people from around the world spend time watching and counting birds for the Great Backyard Bird Count (GBBC). Join the count running from February 12-15, to celebrate the birds near you while contributing to science! 


However, we don’t see many hawks. This is a reasonably well-protected area. The hawks don’t like coming this close to a house, but I do see them in the woods and occasionally I see one of them trying to grab one of my birds as a snack. We have a huge forsythia hedge behind the house in which the birds hide. The bigger hawks can’t penetrate it because they are simply too big. I have seen them try. I couldn’t be sure what kind of hawk it was, but I think it was a Cooper’s Hawk, but it could have been a Sharp-Shinned Hawk too. They are the most avid eaters of smaller birds, but to be fair, all larger birds will eat the eggs and babies of smaller birds — or even birds their own size if they have the opportunity. It’s not a Disney cartoon out there.

Here are some links that will give you more information and you can get in contact with them — NO MATTER WHERE YOU LIVE — and ask questions and they will answer you. First, here’s the Webinar — and I have to tell you, I’m not a big fan of webinars, but I had questions and needed information.

Check out these resources:

Welcome to Our Bird GuideID – Help and life history info for 600+ North American species

eBird.org – Great Backyard Bird Count 2021—share your love of birds!

I hope a few of you will participate. I joined Cornell Ornithology a few months ago. I pay the least amount you can pay which is $8/month because it’s not a lot of money and I felt I needed to put my money where my mouth (and camera) are. For those of us who have been locked up for months at home, this is a great chance to join into an international event without leaving home or your own backyard.



Categories: birds, Blackstone Valley, Cardinal, Chickadee, Events, Goldfinch, House Finch, Nature

Tags: , , , , ,

3 replies

  1. Great info Marilyn. I know about the GBBC. I was reminded yesterday by Cornell. I have to log my birds for yesterday and today still. I saw quite the variety today. Sitting at my dining room table eating lunch with my camera right there. I forgot to put my card back in and I was too busy enjoying my fresh grilled burger that hubby made on the grill to go get it. Of course by the time I finished, the birds had finished eating at the feeder. Robins showed up today. Looking for the Cedar Waxwings but they have gotten here yet…at least not where I could see them. It is going to be storming tomorrow but we are hoping to go somewhere. My foot is still bothering me so not sure if we will get out. I may have to rely on the birds at the feeder for this years count. 🙂

    Liked by 1 person

    • I didn’t make a list today. I made two yesterday. I’ll do one tomorrow, too. I’m glad someone besides me to doing this. I think it’s fun, but it really is hard to take pictures and count, too. It helps if there are two of you. I think Owen will give me a hand tomorrow since he’ll be up early to bake bread and he’s gotten very fond of the birds.

      I bought a big block of suet that has both seeds, beef suet, and mealy worms in it and of all the birds I thought would go nuts about it, I didn’t think it would be the Chickadees. I thought I might start to attract the bug eaters — robins and bluebirds, maybe. Also, I figured the woodpeckers would love it. But those tiny little Chickadees are so HAPPY! Go figure.

      I keep containers with cards wherever my cameras are so whenever I take one out, I put another in. Too many times I’ve forgotten to replace one and lost the shot I was SURE was going to be GREAT.

      Liked by 1 person

  2. I started counting this morning. II can’t count and take pictures. I actually couldn’t count all of them because there were birds on the feeders, eating seeds on the deck and they were also in the nearby trees and on the railing. I fed them early because when I peeked out to see how they were doing, I saw the yellow feeder was empty. If I wanted to count birds, I had to feed them. They were also squawking loudly. Apparently if I don’t feed them on time, they get pretty raucous!

    Liked by 1 person

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