Wednesday, June 17, 2009

Tracking Your Yard Birds

One way to be a birder and to contribute to science without becoming a crazed-birding-nut-job-nerd like me, is to simply keep track of the birds you see in your yard and submit your observations to eBird. In the birding world we call these "Yard Birds". Scientists recognize the value of what normal people see at their homes. The Audubon Society has partnered with the Cornell Lab of Ornithology to create a program called "The Great Backyard Bird Count" to encourage people to count birds at home and to submit those observations to science.

Since moving to Avimor my family has been enjoying the new mix of birds we get to our backyard feeders and bird bath and we have started our count. Everywhere we have lived has had a different variety of yard birds. At our home in Arizona we had almost 70 different species. Michael Wiegand, who lives up in Pearl, Idaho has had over 100 species at his place. The dozens of feeders he puts out plus his geographic location has created his own little birding hotspot.

Here is what we have seen so far at our Avimor home:

1. Mallard - flyover
2. Canada Goose - flyover
3. California Quail - love the seeds that fall from the feeder
4. Red-tailed Hawk - flyover
5. Swainson's Hawk - flyover
6. American Kestrel - slope behind our home
7. Mourning Dove - love the seeds that fall from the feeder
8. Black-chinned Hummingbird - feeder
9. Western Kingbird - slope
10. Eastern Kingbird - landed on our pine tree last Sunday
11. Black-billed Magpie - slope
12. Bank Swallow - regular fly thru yard, but also land on slope
13. Barn Swallow - fly thru
14. American Robin - regular visitors, but don't eat seeds
15. Cedar Waxwing - visited our main tree this morning and prompted this blog entry - not a feeder-eater as far as I know.
16. Black-headed Grosbeak - feeder
17. Red-winged Blackbird - feeder
18. Western Meadowlark - slope
19. Brown-headed Cowbird - feeder
20. House Finch - feeder, especially thistle sock type feeder
21. Pine Siskin - thistle sock feeder
22. American Goldfinch - thistle sock feeder
23. House Sparrow - seeds on patio
24. Killdeer - vist the yard frequently but not to eat
25. Bullock's Oriole - flyover
26. American Crow - flyover
27. Common Raven - flyover
28. Say's Phoebe - regular visitor to the tops of the surveying stakes next door

Some people like to impose upon themselves certain rules for counting yard birds, like "the bird must land on my property" or "the bird must land or flyover my property". When it comes to "yard birds" I am a little more lax in my personal rules. I have always counted any bird that I can "see" from my yard without the aid of binoculars. I hear many other types of birds from around the community from my home, and if I used my 8 x 42 Eagle Optics SRT Rangers, I could look down at the creek and count a lot more birds, but I had to draw the line somewhere. As you can see from my list above, I do qualify my sightings when sharing with others who may be more strict about what they count.

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