Sunday, February 15, 2009


Every year over Presidents Day weekend there is a wonderful event called the Great Backyard Bird Count. It is a great nationwide citizen science project that anyone can participate in. You don't have to have a backyard, you can count birds anywhere you like, on the lakefront, in your school yard, in a forest preserve, a national park, a city park or along your street. You can do it once over the course of the four day weekend or as many times as you like as long as you enter each count separately on the GBBC website. I am an ambassador for Cornell for this event so we try to publicise it at the Museum and encourage people to take part in it. Which is great except for one small detail, invariably this weekend ends up being utterly frigid and miserable in Chicago!

In previous years I have gone out risking hypothermia and frost bite and come back with three bird species - Canada Goose, Mallard and American Crow - not exactly inspiring! It is hard to muster up much enthusiasm with returns like that! Anyway, I persevere. Sure enough today was bitterly cold with a strong wind blasting out of the north and lake effect snow blowing around, so I wrapped up like an Eskimo and did a circuit along the lake and through the park. Amazingly I did manage to find a few more species:

Dark-eyed Junco
European Starling
House Sparrow
Hooded Merganser
Coopers Hawk
Wood Duck
Black Duck
Black-capped Chickadee
Canada Goose
Herring Gull
Common Goldeneye
Common Merganser
Ring-billed Gull
Rock Dove
and, of course, the American Crow

It is times like this that I think about Kathie at Sycamore Canyon she has a wonderful cavalcade of colorful bird species passing through her garden for what seems like the whole year - hmmm, why do I live here again? Anyway, there is light at the end of the tunnel, this winter is not going on for ever. I found this......

and this......

Slowly things are turning toward spring.
So if you live somewhere slightly warmer than me, or even if you don't, you have one more day to get outside and count birds. Check out the website for instructions if you haven't done it before and go out and see what you can find. You might, like me, be pleasantly surprised! Now it is time for me to have a hot bath to remove the chill from my bones!

Photo Credits - CJT


Walker said...

It does look very cold, great work on getting all those birds this year. The buds are ready, spring will come pretty soon.

Reader Wil said...

This is a good post!A few weeks we went bird watching on the sea side. We were all staying in the coach, as the geese and other waterbirds are too shy to stay put, so that we could come closer. We saw many different geese and ducks. Another time I am going to write about it.

Life with Kaishon said...

I have never heard of that designer before! I will google her tonight! I LOVE that you saw all of these birds. How spectacular! My neighbors, when I was growing up, always bird watched. They were such sweet people!

Anonymous said...

I am doing my tallies here too. If you had to go out in the cold, more species should have had the good manners to show up for you Celeste..

PJ said...

I didn't do it this year, too much going on. I hope to join in next time.

Louise said...

I think I will have to do this sometime. I love juncos. I have them in my back yard occasionally in the winter, but definitely not regularly.