Birding the City

Western Scrub Jay_CBC_COS_LAH_8753-001“Two juncos.”
“OK, what kind?”
“One Grey-backed, one Pink-sided—oops, there go half a dozen more! Were they Slate-sided?”
“Oh, I can’t tell! Just write down eight Juncos!”
“Over there—that looks like a Bushtit. And another, and… there must be 50 of them in that bush!”

Counting birds isn’t always easy, but that what I did Saturday. I was participating in Audubon’s 114th Christmas Bird Count, something I’ve done off and on for the past ten years, ever since I discovered the joys of birding.


How to Help Hummingbirds

Anna's Hummingbird_EdmondsMarsh-WA_PLH_7848I was out birding last weekend, scanning the foliage for a glimpse of feathers or the movement of a leaf unexplained by the light breeze, when I heard a high-pitched twit twit. It was a familiar sound, but one I hadn’t heard since early last fall—the call note of a hummingbird!

If I was in Colorado, I’d be quite surprised to find a hummingbird this early in the season—my first Broad-tailed hummer consistently shows up at my feeders on April 30 or May 1. However I’m not in Colorado, I’m currently in Washington. I was birding at Nisqually National Wildlife Refuge, located between Olympia to the west and Tacoma to the east. (My trip includes a little bit of birding and a lot of our new baby granddaughter!)

Here, Anna’s Hummingbirds linger year-round. What a treat! (more…)

Christmas is for Counting Birds

2008dec20-cbc-392rThis Saturday I’m heading out on Audubon’s annual Christmas Bird Count (CBC). I’ll be joining tens of thousands of other birders around the world in a tradition that is in its 110th year.

December isn’t exactly the best time to be outside birding. A few years ago, our group experienced blizzard conditions and a toasty high of six degrees F. (Amazingly, we saw over 200 American Robins in our count area that year! I kept expecting penguins.) Other years have been somewhat milder, but December in Colorado Springs is never for sissies. Why do we bundle into multiple layers of clothing and get up in the dark to spend most of the day outside counting birds?

The holiday season is also incredibly busy. Shopping, decorating, baking, parties—who has time to tally birds? Why use up a precious Saturday right before Christmas in order to take a bird census?