After last year, I was really looking forward to participating in several area Christmas Bird Counts. Given my still-recuperating status, the prospect of hours hanging out a car window while bumping along possibly-paved back roads seemed far less appealing. So I opted for the stationary version of the CBC, tallying birds within a half-mile radius of my house.
I prepared in advance by making my feeders more attractive — a generous hunk of fresh suet, home-made Zick dough, sunflower and thistle seed, and millet for the ground feeders. Of course, what this drew was a bumper crop of squirrels and starlings…
On the day after Christmas, I got up before dawn and prowled around outside in a bathrobe in the surprisingly mild air, hoping to hear owls. No luck, so I retreated to my comfy chair and cup of tea to see who would be the first arrivals. Unsurprisingly, chickadees led the way followed soon by the usual suspects.
It was clear if I wanted to see anything interesting, I’d have to take a walk. So we ventured up the tower road, where a Red-tailed Hawk circled overhead. A bit further down the road, a tangle of grapevines and wild rose hips attracted Cardinals, White-throated Sparrows, and a Carolina Wren. All the birds went silent when we flushed up a Sharp-shinned Hawk from what was obviously his primo hunting spot.
For the day, I totalled about 120 individuals of 21 species. I was probably low on BCCs and DEJs due to the flitter factor.
Black-capped Chickadee 4, American Crow 14, Downy Woodpecker 4, Tufted Titmouse 3, Dark-eyed Junco 7, Blue Jay 5, White-breasted Nuthatch 1, American Goldfinch 10, Red-bellied Woodpecker 1, European Starling 35, Northern Flicker 1, Hairy Woodpecker 1, Tree Sparrow 1, Red-tailed Hawk 1, Sharp-shinned Hawk 1, White-throated Sparrow 3, Northern Cardinal 5, Mourning Dove 12, Carolina Wren 1, Red-breasted Nuthatch 1, House Finch 8.
And that’s all! No Pileated, no owls, no Snow Buntings, Pine Siskins, Redpolls, no bluebirds or robins though they had been feeding on the sumacs just days before, no geese flying over. Quite a disappointing total. I’m waiting to hear what the rest of the teams came up with for the day. I know it’s been a real dry spell on the HMBirds list lately. Come on winter birds! Come on Snowy Owls!