Monday, February 15, 2010


It is that time of year again when people all across the country can take part in a huge citizen science project called the Great Backyard Bird Count. It takes place over the Presidents Day weekend and it is a great way to become familiar with the avian species that call your neighbourhood home during the winter months. I always enjoy bird watching but I usually view this particular Bird Count with rather mixed feelings because February in Chicago is not usually a particularly pleasant time to be outside! Last year was typically frigid. So imagine my surprise when the forecast for the weekend was actually fairly reasonable.
On Friday I was busy at work so I had to make do with grabbing a few minutes watching the visitors to our feeders. A Hairy Woodpecker posed obligingly whilst I practiced with my new camera.

The Downy Woodpecker was a little more shy and kept its back to me most of the time. I did manage to get one shot that almost shows the beak which you can see is much shorter than that of the Hairy Woodpecker.

Another obliging character was this charming American Tree Sparrow who relished the easy meal at the feeder. You can't see it in this shot but one of the diagnostic features of this species is a single dark breast spot.

On Sunday I got chance to get outside and take a stroll along the lake front. As you can see, it was a beautiful clear day, still very cold so I was well wrapped up but this was infinitely preferable to previous years.

There were dozens of water fowl bobbing around amongst the ice and I nearly froze trying to count them but it was well worth it as I saw two new species that I certainly wasn't expecting to find. Unfortunately I didn't get photos of either of them but I was delighted to see several Redheads and a lonesome White-winged Scoter - SCORE!!
This beautiful pair of Common Goldeneye did come close enough to shore for a photo though

And I did feel sorry for this dear little American Pipit who looked very chilly as it hopped along the shore.

Here is my total list for the weekend:
Dark-eyed Junco
House Sparrow
Black-capped Chickadee
Northern Cardinal
Song Sparrow
American Tree Sparrow
American Crow
Canada Goose
Downy Woodpecker
Rock Pigeon
European Starling
Red-tailed Hawk
Hairy Woodpecker
Greater Scaup
American Pipit
Common Merganser
Ring-billed Gull
White-winged Scoter*
Common Goldeneye
Wood Duck

* = new species for me!

Photo Credits - CJT & DominickV


Kathiesbirds said...

Celeste, how wonderful that you went out and counted! How wonderful that the weather was nice enough to do it! Congrats on the lifers! I have not had a new species since last fall! You got some nice photos with that new camera of yours.

Rambling Woods said...

It was a cold time for me also so I did my watching from inside.. You got some great photos with your camera and I like that your showed the difference between hairy and downy....Michelle