Monday, January 2, 2012

New Hobby! Birdwatching

So now, for 2012, I have started birdwatching! ...because I needed another hobby? Actually, I decided to start because I can practice my scientific observation and data recording skills while providing valuable information to CornellLab of Orinthology at Cornell University. (Project FeederWatch). I found the  Project FeederWatch  while I was looking into "Nest Watching" and "The Great Backyard Bird Count. " All three projects are sponsored by CornellLab of Orinthology. Click the links to find out more (opens in a new window).

Okay, so I get ready to alert the neighborhood chirpers that I will be feeding and observing them for the next few months (at least). I pick up a wild bird food mix (that may not be their most favorite, but the squirrels will eat what the birds don't). Most suburban birds prefer black-oil sunflower seeds, and peanuts (of all things!). CornellLab says the striped sunflower seeds you and I eat are tougher hulled and harder to remove the meat than the little black ones. So I supplement the hanging hopper-style feeder with some crumbled leftover baked stuffing and a bite of pecan pie crumbled on a napkin on a nearby table.

Hours go by... no visitors. Oh, wait! The squirrel that lives in the maple where I've hung the feeder has come down to check out the stuffing. I have not seen a bird since 8:30 this morning when I was out to walk the dog and saw one robin and one titmouse! ... I went for another walk around the block at 2:30 in the afternoon. I did not see nor hear a single bird... as I'm thinking that the birds must know something I don't, like maybe the weather would be warmer tomorrow, or a big snow is coming, and they are hunkering down in their nests, I hear the caws of a huge American Crow (a BIG blackbird). Alone today, but I was hoping my walk would not be completely void of feathered encounters! As I rounded my last corner on my way back to my house, I saw the most likely reason for the solitude... two hawks were circling the block! Actually, their flight pattern encircled two blocks! I tried to take pictures, but with the dog yanking the leash, and the height of the birds, the images really are not impressive.

So I get to the house and see .... no one. Sniff! Wait! There's a Northern Cardinal sitting in the brush over my compost pile (where I had tossed some moldy cupcakes a few days ago and covered them over last night). I moved the tray of seed and stuffing from the table and placed it nearer the compost pile. There is a rose bush and honeysuckle bramble there and the grapevine/honeysuckle mess where the cardinal was perched. Maybe the maple is too open for hawk attacks? It is today, anyway! What I believe to be a finch was seen pecking in the compost pile within minutes of my leave! Maybe the word will get out there's food at my house, and by the time the GBBC comes, there will be lots of birds to count!

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