I am Meg Moseley. Meg, a writer. Seeking the real God in the real world.

Sunday, February 11, 2007

Going to the birds

Sometime during Feb. 16-19, I'm going to participate in the Great Backyard Bird Count. This is a simple activity and doesn't take much time. You count birds, and you enter your counts online. The results are used to guesstimate the well being of various types of birds and how general patterns of bird populations vary from year to year. It's not entirely scientific, but it gives ornithologists some useful data.

We have several feeders and suet holders in our back yard, and we've attracted a good variety of birds. Woodpeckers: hairy, downy, red-bellied, and red-headed. Cardinals, goldfinches, purple finches, house finches, pine siskins, blue jays, Carolina chickadees, nuthatches, tufted titmice, rufous-sided towhees, and even one beautiful hawk who strolled across the deck, looking for dinner. He was either a Cooper's hawk or a sharp-shinned. He flew away too soon, before I could nail down the slight differences.

We also see lots of sparrows, including house sparrows. My husband loathes house sparrows because they sometimes kill baby bluebirds and take over the bluebird houses. We also have other sparrows, but I can't tell what kind they are. They're all LBJs to me. Little Brown Jobs.

Since I decided to do the G.B.B.C., I've been paying more attention to the birds, trying to nail down some of the more confusing varieties so my data will be more accurate. Sometimes, a tiny "field mark" like an eyestripe or a wingbar is a clue. But the little buggers often fly away before I've had a chance to really look at them. I'm learning to look fast and hard then remember the details as I frantically flip through the pages of the bird book. It's good training in paying close attention.

And it makes me wonder about a few things. For instance, why don't pigeons have more consistent coloring? With rare exceptions, a chickadee will always look like the next chickadee, but pigeons show a wide variety of coloration. Why did God design them that way? Does anybody have a theory? And is anybody else going to try the G.B.B.C.? It would be fun to compare notes.


At February 16, 2007 1:04 PM, Blogger Suzan Robertson said...

There are a lot of birds around my apt. but I don't know what kind they are, except for the cardinals. I put sunflower seeds out for them. They hang around my deck, along with the squirrels. There's huge hawk around here too.

(I'm always afraid he'll grab one of the squirrels while I'm looking out the window and I'll feel really sick over that especially because there's one brave squirrel that climbs up my deck door and peeks his head in, looking for food. I'd hate for him to be the hawk's dinner. do hawks eat squirrels? I'm nature challenged as you can see.)

I know nothing about birds, except that they're gorgeous and I envy their wings.

God is so awesome in His creation.

At February 16, 2007 2:24 PM, Blogger Meg said...

I think hawks eat squirrels, unless it's a small hawk and a large squirrel.

If your hawk grabs one of your squirrels, don't feel bad. That's just the way it goes. Hawks get hungry, too.

At February 16, 2007 8:09 PM, Blogger Meg said...

My update: In 15 minutes, I counted 14 species, including a male ruby-crowned kinglet. That was a treat. They're tiny birds, barely bigger than hummingbirds. I've never seen one up close before, and I probably would have missed him if I hadn't been so focused on doing the Audubon count.

He was a cutie.

At February 18, 2007 7:21 AM, Blogger Suzan Robertson said...

Cool! Maybe I should try it, even if I don't know what they are!

At February 18, 2007 7:53 AM, Blogger Meg said...

It really is fun and easy. The website has links to photos to help you identify birds you're not sure of.

I'm still puzzling over some LBJs (little brown jobs). I think they're chipping sparrows, but I'm not sure.

At February 19, 2007 12:14 AM, Blogger Deeanne said...

LOL on the "hawks get hungry, too." That is so vintage-Meg. Ha!

I'm very impressed with your bird watching. I'm doing good to remember what I went into the next room for. No way would I be able to keep a specific enough image of a bird in my mind to look it up and identify it.

I'm truly in awe. What a wonderful, wonderful thing to participate in. Are you doing strictly naked-eye stuff or do you use binoculars?

At April 16, 2007 5:43 PM, Blogger Deeanne said...

This comment has been removed by the author.

At March 14, 2014 11:14 AM, Anonymous PENNY STOCK INVESTMENTS said...

Leave the birds to be.


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