Posted tagged ‘Project FeederWatch’

Through the Window: December 2013 – A Simple Dozen

January 3, 2014

That was a quiet month. Partly it’s the season; partly it was finishing the Annual Appeal, making the ornaments to thank and celebrate donors who gave $300 or more, and partly of course the holidays. We all like to take a little time off! (more…)

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Through the Window: February 2013 with Bird Counts

March 8, 2013

Several boards to combine for today’s post: the usual white board, the Feedwatch tally sheet, and the Great Backyard Bird Count board!

  • Black-capped Chickadees (10 seen at the GBBC)
  • Hairy Woodpeckers (male and female; also 2 seen at the GBBC)
  • Downy Woodpeckers (male and female; also2 seen at the GBBC)
  • Common Redpoll (31 seen at the GBBC)
  • Dark-eyed Junco (1 seen at the GBBC)
  • Common Redpoll (31 seen at the GBBC)
  • Blue Jay (1 seen at the GBBC)
  • Mourning Dove (18 seen at the GBBC)
  • White-breasted Nuthatch (1 seen at the GBBC)
  • Tufted Titmouse (2 seen at the GBBC)
  • Red-breasted Nuthatch (1 seen at the GBBC)
  • Evening Grosbeak (female with the injured wing, seen at least twice, including 2/27/13 up on the platform feeder)
  • American Crow (1 seen at the GBBC)
  • Common Raven (1 seen at the GBBC)
  • Brown Creeper (on a yellow birch near the feeder area)

Of course we had some red and gray squirrels!

Project Feederwatch started November 10th. We usually do our observations at lunch, and thos species are included in the list above. This is a great project to do with kids. The Great Backyard Bird Count is another beginner-friendly (and expert-friendly!) citizen science project. This a short-term project (4 days), rather than a multi-month one. We’re looking forward to NestWatch coming up soon (exactly when depends on where you are; they have a spiffy new website too)

The “Through the Window” series is an informal record of observations made by staff, volunteers, and visitors. Anyone at the Museum may add to this list. Observations are usually through our viewing window: a large window with a film to make it more difficult for birds to see the watchers. We have chairs and binoculars to try there, a white board, and many identification guides. Outdoors, several feeders are attached on a single, bear-resistant pole. A small pond, flowers and water plants, shrubs and trees add cover and other food choices. You can sometimes see what we see via our webcam.

Through the Window: January 2013 for Brrrrrrds

February 3, 2013

Didn’t get everything noted on our white board, so we checked our Feederwatch notes too (see below). What a nice mix of birds. I’m sure we’d see more if we just sat by the window all the time!

  • Common Redpoll (both mail and female; the larges flock was about 30 birds)
  • Common Raven (overhead, not at the feeders)
  • Blue Jays
  • Mourning Doves (the largest flock seen was about 2o birds)
  • Wild Turkey (7  on the 21st, 1 male) (this flock was seen several time, perhaps because of Audubon Vermont’s nearby logging demo? Or perhaps just for the corn!)
  • Black-capped Chickadees
  • Tufted Titmouse
  • Downy Woodpeckers
  • Hairy Woodpeckers
  • Evening Grosbeak  (the female with the drooping wing was noted on January 9th and 22nd. She fluttered up to the platform on the 22nd!)
  • Northern Cardinals (male and female)
  • White-breasted Nuthatch

Of course we had some red and gray squirrels. Funny little things! Some of them you can tell apart somewhat easily, but subtle marking or differently-colored fur patches.

Project Feederwatch started November 10th. We usually do our observations at lunch. This is a great project to do with kids. The Great Backyard Bird Count (in February) is another beginner-friendly (and expert-friendly!) citizen science project. We do that do, and the Museum will be open on February 16 so you can count, learn, and enjoy it with us.

The “Through the Window” series is an informal record of observations made by staff, volunteers, and visitors. Anyone at the Museum may add to this list. Observations are usually through our viewing window: a large window with a film to make it more difficult for birds to see the watchers. We have chairs and binoculars to try there, a white board, and many identification guides. Outdoors, several feeders are attached on a single, bear-resistant pole. A small pond, flowers and water plants, shrubs and trees add cover and other food choices. You can sometimes see what we see via our webcam.

Winter Birds

January 16, 2013

Snow birds, a term often used to describe northern people who travel south to spend the winter in relative comfort. Of course, birders and other naturalists use those words in a different way. They use the phrase to describe birds that come from the north and spend the winter in Vermont (and surrounding areas). Some snow birds are fairly common and some are considered irruptive species. These irruptive species are big news to birders! (And a great reason to be outside exploring all winter). This winter is turning into a good year for seeing lots of common and uncommon snow birds.

Many birds show up regularly at our feeders in spring and fall as part of their typical migratory pattern.  Winter irruptive bird species are less predictable but are often a highlight of winter birding.  The reasons for these avian irruptions can yield some debate; although a change in food quantities is often cited as the reason to move.  In the winter, survival for birds is all about food. If there is a poor seed crop they need to move on. The fruiting of certain boreal trees: spruce, fir, tamarack, and birch, appears to be synchronized.  So one year there will be abundance of seeds and the next almost none. Coniferous and hardwood tree seed crops were generally poor this past season across northeastern Ontario east through the Maritime Provinces, and in northern New York and New England States, causing many species to move south in search of food

Common Redpoll, Pine Sisken, Purple Finch, Evening Grosbeak, Pine Grosbeak, Red Crossbill, White-winged Crossbill, and Red-breasted Nuthatch are considered irruptive species.  Here in Vermont a few of the aforementioned species are found year-round so they may not top the list as exciting winter birds but farther south they may. One species that often tops the excitement list is the Pine Grosbeak, a species that has been seen across Vermont this winter.  Pine Grosbeaks are slightly larger than Evening Grosbeaks and the males look like they have been dipped in a rosy–colored paint. The females (which have been seen in greater abundance this year) are a grayish bird with dingy yellow on head and along the back and top of the tail, and prominent wing bars.  Pine Grosbeaks are more often seen in large flocks on fruit bearing trees in busy urban areas, college campuses, or backyards.

The winter is a great time to see other birds that are usually only seen in the winter.  These include American Tree Sparrows, Northern Shrikes, Bohemian Waxwings, Snow Buntings, Lapland Longspurs, and Horned Larks.  Some years an abundance of Northern Owls are seen as their food sources dwindle in their northern territories.  A lucky winter birder might catch a glimpse of a Great Gray Owl, a Snowy Owl or even a Northern Hawk Owl. Great Gray Owls were seen in late January in and around both Ottawa and Montreal. There is a chance they will move into northern Vermont before winter is over. The Great Gray is a large owl with a wingspan stretching to almost 4 ½ feet. For many, seeing a Great Gray owl is a once in a life-time event.

Dramatic irruptions are being tracked and studied in a variety of ways.  Scientists can use data collected during Christmas Bird Counts, Project Feeder Watch, and the Great Backyard Bird Count to see when birds arrive and where they go.  The Great Backyard Bird Count occurs from February 15-18 and is open to everyone! For more information about how to participate see http://www.birdsource.org/gbbc.

If you are near Huntington, Vermont on February 16 there will be a bird walk at the Green Mountain Nature Center from 8-10 AM (see vt.audubon.org for more details). The Birds of Vermont Museum will be open from 10 AM – 3 PM so visitors can view the bird feeding station, explore the museum exhibits, drink bird friendly coffee, and learn more about the Great Backyard Bird Count.

Winter is a great time to enjoy birds!

Post by Erin Talmage, Executive Director of the Birds of Vermont Museum. This article also appears in Vermont Great Outdoors Magazine, a digital publication.

Through the Window: December 2012 … a little sparse

January 2, 2013

We were busy out and about, and had few visitors (a disadvantage of our “by appointment” season), so not so many observations. The female Grosbeak with the damaged wing continues to live nearby! You can find out more about her in October’s entry. Here’s the rest of our December list.

  • Black-capped Chickadee
  • Blue Jay
  • White-breasted Nuthatch
  • Hairy Woodpecker
  • Downy Woodpecker
  • Mourning Dove
  • Tufted Titmouse
  • Dark-eyed Junco
  • Evening Grosbeak  (the female with the drooping wing was noted on December 22)
  • Northern Cardinal

Project Feederwatch started November 10th. We usually do our observations at lunch. This is a great project to do with kids. The Great Backyard Bird Count (in February) is another beginner-friendly (and expert-friendly!) citizen science project. We do that do, and the Museum will be open on February 16 so you can count, learn, and enjoy it with us.

The “Through the Window” series is an informal record of observations made by staff, volunteers, and visitors. Anyone at the Museum may add to this list. Observations are usually through our viewing window: a large window with a film to make it more difficult for birds to see the watchers. We have chairs and binoculars to try there, a white board, and many identification guides. Outdoors, several feeders are attached on a single, bear-resistant pole. A small pond, flowers and water plants, shrubs and trees add cover and other food choices. You can sometimes see what we see via our webcam.

Through the Window: November 2012 Gets a Little Quieter

December 4, 2012

Our plucky female Grosbeak friend is still around! You can find out more about her in last month’s entry.

  • Evening Grosbeak (including the feamle with the injured wing. Still going!)
  • Blue JayTufted Titmouse
  • White-breasted Nuthatch
  • Black-capped Chickadee
  • Pine Siskin
  • Dark-eyed Junco
  • Hairy Woodpecker
  • Downy Woodpecker
  • Ruffed Grouse
  • White-throated Sparrow
  • Fox Sparrow (11/6/2012)
  • Northern Cardinal
  • Mourning Dove
  • Wild Turkey (usually 6-10, but we did see a flock of 23!)

Project Feederwatch started November 10th! We enjoy having our lunch while “standing watch”. When do you take your data?

Of course some Red and Gray squirrels appeared quite pleased to hoover up some of our corn and black oil seed from the ground.

The “Through the Window” series is an informal record of observations made by staff, volunteers, and visitors. Anyone at the Museum may add to this list. Observations are usually through our viewing window: a large window with a film to make it more difficult for birds to see the watchers. We have chairs and binoculars to try there, a white board, and many identification guides. Outdoors, several feeders are attached on a single, bear-resistant pole. A small pond, flowers and water plants, shrubs and trees add cover and other food choices. You can sometimes see what we see via our webcam.

Through the Window: October 2012 with a Big Sit too

November 13, 2012

The Big Sit! event always boosts the size of the October list. Something about actually sitting around and watching for birds, instead of trying to notice them while you’re talking to other visitors…  Bold birds are the ones we didn’t record last month.

  • Blue Jay
  • White-throated Sparrow
  • Hairy Woodpecker
  • Downy Woodpecker
  • Evening Grosbeak*
  • Black-capped Chickadee
  • American Crow
  • Mourning Dove
  • White-breasted Nuthatch
  • Purple Finch
  • Tufted Titmouse
  • Sharp-shinned Hawk (caught something on October 19!)
  • American Goldfinch
  • Pine Siskins (more than 20!)
  • Dark-eyed Junco
  • Wild Turkeys (a flock of 9)
  • Northern Cardinal
  • Song Sparrow? (10/12, observed by Jim O. Not bolded due to uncertainty, although Jim is an expert birder.)
  • Cedar Waxwing (during the Big Sit)
  • mystery Duck (a Big Sit observation–too silhouetted to identify properly)
  • Common Raven (also during the Big Sit!)
  • Rusty Blackbird (10/17)
  • Pileated Woodpecker (flew over 10/12)
  • Canada Geese (heard overhead 10/23)
  • American Robin (10/23)
  • Common Grackle (10/07)
  • Ruffed Grouse (in the crab apple tree 10/28)

*Observe? Or Act?

We observed several Evening Grosbeaks, male and female. One female seemed to have an injured right wing. Over the course of the month, she continued to make appearances, generally foraging on the ground and hopping back to shelter in the cedar hedge. However, one day she did fly—perhaps flutter is a more accurate verb—up into some shrubs as well. We saw her off and on through the end of October, and we wish her well. Her persistence does raise the question: what, if anything, should we do about her? Catch her? Send her to rehab? Observe her without interference?

Also,  Project Feederwatch starts November 10th! Are you ready? We are!

The “Through the Window” series is an informal record of observations made by staff, volunteers, and visitors. Anyone at the Museum may add to this list. Observations are usually through our viewing window: a large window with a film to make it more difficult for birds to see the watchers. We have chairs and binoculars to try there, a white board and many identification guides, and several feeders outside on a single, bear-resistant pole, as well as a small pond, flowers and water plants, shrubs and trees. You can sometimes see what we see via our webcam.


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