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Week Two of the January Bird Count

Posted Jan 10 2010 5:12am
"All the birds had fled..."

I was out on trail every day this week but one looking for birds to add to my January total. I know where to look and dressed for the bitter cold each day after work to take an hour or so to check a woodlot, stream or river for any living thing. My husband and I drove north of the city yesterday where we would be sure to find a Snowy Owl or Bald Eagle but came up with only two new birds in several hours of searching. I was reading the reports of recent Christmas Bird Counts in Ontario and saw comments like, "never have so many people turned out to look for so few birds".

American Tree Sparrow and a White-throated Sparrow at a feeder

A bitter cold snap has affected much of the continent. My daughter in the north of Mexico was telling me that the water in her dog's dish was frozen yesterday and that she could see her breath inside the house. So I have no complaints. With central heating and city services which are accustomed to dealing with snowfall and cold temperatures, I am not inconvenienced at all. And I am happy I am not a bird looking for food and warmth outside.

Red-bellied Woodpecker

Our bird feeders at home are busy with the usual customers with the addition of a Coopers Hawk who is dropping by a few times a day looking for an easy meal. So far we have not seen evidence of a kill. I ended up seeing the most birds at the feeder at the Guelph Lake Nature Centre featured in my last post. Red-bellied Woodpeckers and Purple Finches are not seen commonly and both were enjoying the free black sunflower seeds.

Purple Finch at Guelph Lake

Other sightings of note away from feeders included;-
  • A large flock of Snow Buntings
  • Horned Larks congregated on a gravel road
  • A Rough-legged hawk hunting over a field next to the road
The last two years there have been large flocks of winter finches such as Crossbills, Redpolls and Pine Siskins. They are notably absent this year. I went to the pine grove where they were seen consistently last year and noticed that the trees which were laden with cones last year have very few cones this year. Many trees had none at all. Each season is unique. I now have a total of 31 birds with a goal of 45 by the end of the month.
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