Tuesday, February 16, 2010

My big green Great Backyard Bird Count

I had 51 species over the four days of the 2010 Great Backyard Bird Count (GBBC) here in Bloomington, Indiana. All species recorded were the result of BIGBY "green" birding. (For more information on BIGBY birding see: http://tinyurl.com/yf7bcqu).

Some birds were in my yard, some on the Indiana University cross country course, and some in my neighborhood. Some species were seen in two of these three locations and some (e.g., Juncos, Bluebirds, Cardinals, etc.) were in all three locations.

The highlights of my weekend were:

* Gray Catbird - in a fruit tree along Pete Ellis Drive, along with some Starlings and Robins. First-of-year bird and BIGBY species #71 for 2010.

* Eastern Phoebe - on the grounds of the Bell Trace retirement center

* Red-breasted Nuthatch - same location as the Phoebe, although on a different day

* Eight sparrow species - Eastern Towhee, Fox Sparrow, American Tree Sparrow, Song Sparrow, Field Sparrow, White-throated Sparrow, White-crowned Sparrow, and Dark-eyed Junco. Fox Sparrows don't come to my yard often. Field Sparrows rarely show up, but I had a regular visitor on Sunday and Monday. I haven't had many White-throated Sparrows this winter, but I had five at one time this weekend.

* Three owl species - Barred, Great Horned, and Eastern Screech. Mighty chilly weather to be listening for owls at night!

* Lots of American Crows! My high count according to GBBC rules was 725 crows on Friday evening. They were roosting in the trees at the John Hinkle farmstead across east 10th Street from Stone Belt. They took flight off to the west at about 6:45PM. My highest non-GBBC-rules count for the weekend was 2,075 crows, also on Friday evening. Highest yard bird individual bird count I've ever had! I sat in my desk chair for 35 minutes, looking out the west window, and counted them as they flew the SSW to the NNE. I could hear them congregating off to the NNE as I counted the flyovers. Funny thing...as the last few stragglers headed to the NNE, the main flock of crows started heading back to the SSW. Kinda interesting - they all passed over going to the NNE, heading to some sort of gathering place. Once they were all there, they turned around and headed back in the exact same direction they'd come from! :-)

In case anyone's interested, here's my GBBC species list:

Great Blue Heron
Canada Goose
Wild Turkey
Turkey Vulture
Northern Harrier
Cooper's Hawk
Sharp-shinned Hawk
Red-shouldered Hawk
Red-tailed Hawk
American Kestrel
Ring-billed Gull
Rock Pigeon
Mourning Dove
Barred Owl
Eastern Screech-owl
Great Horned Owl
Red-bellied Woodpecker
Downy Woodpecker
Pileated Woodpecker
Hairy Woodpecker
Northern Flicker
Eastern Phoebe
Blue Jay
American Crow
Carolina Chickadee
Tufted Titmouse
Red-breasted Nuthatch
White-breasted Nuthatch
Carolina Wren
Winter Wren
Brown Creeper
Eastern Bluebird
American Robin
Gray Catbird
Northern Mockingbird
European Starling
Cedar Waxwing
Eastern Towhee
Fox Sparrow
American Tree Sparrow
Song Sparrow
Field Sparrow
White-throated Sparrow
White-crowned Sparrow
Dark-eyed Junco
Northern Cardinal
Eastern Meadowlark
Common Grackle
House Finch
American Goldfinch
House Sparrow

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