Go count birds!

The Great Backyard Bird Count has begun today, and continues through the 15th. My wife has been staring out the window all day, scribbling notes on paper, and I might have wondered what weirdness she’s up to, except that she just told me I should tell everyone in the world to join her. Not in our backyard, that would get crowded, but in your own backyard. I’m exempt, because she knows I only count spiders. And dinosaurs.


  1. hemidactylus says

    I thought counting birds was counting dinosaurs. No? Go count some flying dinosaurs. I’m exempt due to my ornithological ignorance and no so great distance vision. And laziness.

  2. PaulBC says

    There’s a tree outside my window in the room I work from that was filled with little sparrow-sized birds yesterday, but many of them had yellow feathers, and I think they were finches (goldfinches maybe?). I was too lazy to take a picture and hoped they’d be back today, but they’re not.

  3. hemidactylus says

    @1 blf
    The rotisserie choices Wednesday were absent so I got wings. I can count those I guess.

    Sadly I’m not conversant in birder-speak as so many literal snowbirds come here to winter. There was a choice point years ago when I chose some molecular courses (immunology and developmental biology) instead of field courses (which may have included ornithology and mammalogy). I long term I would have personally benefited more from ornithology as I wouldn’t have to continue into an actual professional biology career (which I didn’t) to apply those skills which would have come in a higher level graduate course taken as post-bach. Hell my pretty decent botany skillset went kaput with years of disuse. Oh well.

  4. Nerd of Redhead, Dances OM Trolls says

    I don’t see as many birds around since my next door neighbor stopped filling his bird feeder. I think he might of got tired of indirectly feeding the squirrels.

  5. quotetheunquote says

    My wife did our back yard this morning, as well!
    We’ll probably go out tomorrow and Sunday to count (from a safe distance) some other local feeders.

    @rattletrap. There may be other options than this, but ebird.org is easy to sign up for – I used it all the time. Once you register, and enter a list on to that site, the numbers are, I believe, compiled automatically (as long as the count was made within the prescribed time period).

  6. birgerjohansson says

    Birds… free association…Beatles sang about blackbirds… and it is 57 years (and three days) since Beatles appeared on the Ed Sullivan Show.
    I get weird when I have been without sleep too long.
    Before the songbirds can get at the food, the pigeons and crows eat their fill. So I am supporting nearly a whole avian ecosystem.

  7. pgmoni says

    “I only count spiders. And dinosaurs.” Uh ? Whatever happened with the octopuses and other squids ?

  8. steve1 says

    I saw some buzzards soar by. I found a Spiney-backed Orbweaver, Gasteracantha cancriformis in my back yard. beautiful and bizarre-looking.

  9. Tethys says

    I counted three crows. It’s even too cold for the squirrels to wake up. I assume all the birds are hanging out down by the river, where its much warmer due to local microclimate, and more people can afford to feed the birds.

  10. blf says

    @19, Squirrels are covered in fur, run around on four legs, climb trees, eat nuts and seeds, and should stay the feck away from Iris. They are not known for laying eggs.

    Birds are covered in feathers, typically fly with two wings albeit some run around on two legs, generally don’t climb trees, eat nuts and seeds and worms and mice and possibly — presumably to Iris’s delight — the occasional squirrel. They lay eggs.

    To help distinguish the two, count the teeth. No teeth, probably not a squirrel. Teeth, probably not a bird, possibly an alligator. See… easy to tell apart !

  11. gaparker says

    My wife is doing the ebird.org thing as well. We’ve been in the same house in northeast Ohio for 29 years now. We have heard pileated woodpeckers any number of times near us, but only today for the first time found one at our feeder. He was pecking hard into a suet cake, ignoring the sunflower seeds that most of the birds eat. We suddenly began seeing bluebirds as well this winter, which we hardly ever see here.

  12. tccc says

    Careful with the plastic mesh bag feeders, non target species can be harmed as the food gets smaller. Foxes, raccoons, possums, martins, etc can try and swallow the food whole and the mesh bag kills them.

  13. sc_262299b298126f9a3cc21fb87cce79da says

    I actually saw my local northern flicker a couple of times this weekend. I’ve been hearing it a lot in recent months but rarely see it.

    Rare snow on the ground is causing a lot of bird activity.

  14. PaulBC says

    birgerjohansson@11 The Byrds appeared on Ed Sullivan only once on December 12, 1965 and played Turn! Turn! Turn! and Mr. Tambourine Man. (I did not know until looking it up but I had guessed they probably were on at least once). I would have been less than 6 months old at the time (but greater than 0 months).

    What about the Yardbirds? They are on somebody’s list of acts that never made it on Ed Sullivan.

  15. blf says

    @24, “What about the Yardbirds?” At first I confused them with another band which — perhaps understandably — very probably never appeared on any(?) mainstream show: The all-female Ladybirds, who were so bad they played topless in order to “attract” an audience. (There seems to be a number of bands with a similar name at various times / locales.)

  16. PaulBC says

    blf@25 Then there’s Ladysmith Black Mambazo, who sung on Paul Simon’s album Graceland. They did not appear on Ed Sullivan either, as far as I know. They were founded in 1960 in South Africa, so it’s not literally impossible, just unlikely.

  17. blf says

    Ladysmith Black Mambazo is utterly different to both Yardbirds and Ladybirds, and difficult to confuse with either. Legend is Paul Simon heard them via the very first The Indestructible Beat of Soweto album (of which I have a copy, obtained before Graceland appeared).

  18. PaulBC says

    The Indestructible Beat of Soweto album (of which I have a copy, obtained before Graceland appeared).

    Impressive. (Sincere, no snark.)

  19. blf says

    Thanks. One of the last concerts I attended in Dublin before moving was Ladysmith Black Mambazo (not the first time I’d seen them live), at the end of a European(? UK & Ireland?) tour. The gentleman doing chit-chat (in English) between numbers got confused as to where they where, saying they were in England. This was robustly, albeit politely, corrected by the crowd. He apologised, and explained it was the last concert of the tour — and then promised to return on a future tour, asking if Dublin should be first or last. Both “first!” and “last!” were shouted out, with me then chiming in “both!” — which got some applause and additional calls of “both!” (He didn’t react and I have no idea what actually did happen on any subsequent tours.)