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Anyone Participate In The Annual Spring Migration Bird Count?

Yesterday was Pennsylvania's count day, and I always look forward to the possibility of spotting an additional species in my backyard.

I typically get the common year-round species, such as Blue Jays, Northern Cardinals, Mourning Doves, Common Grackles, American Crows, various Sparrows, Tufted Titmouse, Black-Capped and/or Carolina Chickadees, European Starlings, Red-Bellied Woodpeckers, Downy Woodpeckers, and Robins. Sometimes the Hairy Woodpeckers, American Goldfinches, House Finches, Red-Winged Blackbirds, Brown-Headed Cowbirds, Eastern Towhees, Ruby-Throated Hummingbirds, Sharp-Shinned and/or Cooper's Hawks also make an appearance. Less frequently, I get to include Rose-Breasted Grosbeaks, Indigo Buntings, and American Redstarts.

The weather was cold, windy, and rainy for this time of year, but I was able to include all of the above EXCEPT House Finches, Goldfinches, Cooper's Hawk, Rose-Breasted Grosbeaks, and American Redstarts.

I think it is thrilling to be able to capture sightings of birds that may suddenly appear and be visible for a mere few seconds! Spotting a super fast hummingbird never ceases to amaze me, and a summer just isn't a good summer when I fail to see at least one hummingbird! This is going to be a GOOD summer!

Are there any "feeder watchers" here with stories to tell about your sightings? If so, please share them!
12 REPLIES
Community Manager

Re: Anyone Participate In The Annual Spring Migration Bird Count?

[ Edited ]

Hi Michele. Thanks for sharing about your love for bird watching! Unfortunately I am not able to have a bird feeder at my place but I love to watch the birds that flock to the feeder at my dad's house in Maine. The feeder is located on a beautiful, medium size pine tree in the front yard that's visible from the kitchen window. There's something magical about waking up and staring out into the gray and often cold Maine mornings and seeing the bright cardinal that visits frequently. More commonly you'll see species sparrows, robins and the Maine state bird the chickadee. At first, I mistook the cardinal for a red robin. Growing up, I also enjoyed watching the bird the visited my grandmother's feeder. Her feeder was higher up on the house and viewable from the living room. I agree with you, seeing a hummingbird in flight as it pauses to eat is spectacular. 

With bird feeders, there's always the concern of squirrels coming to munch of the food. I'd like to know if anyone has tips for ways to prevent those bushy tailed friends from dining on the bird's food. Below are two images I found online, one is a cardinal and one is a red robin. I'm wondering who here can tell the difference!

1.jpg1.jpg

Alex Cat Very Happy

VIP

Re: Anyone Participate In The Annual Spring Migration Bird Count?

This may sound odd, but I never actually thought about there being a "red robin" - I just recall the words from a nursery rhyme or poem(?)! Thanks for the photo; I have no 'roblem' identifying it at this time.

I have numerous feeders in the front and back yards, including some on the deck (where I throw peanuts onto from the kitchen window). The birds, squirrels, chipmunks, and neighbor's cat all know that the sound of the window opening/closing means a fresh supply of peanuts and peanut butter suet and a dish of Fancy Feast and whatever "side dish" my cats got that morning. This and/or another supply of fresh food is also true for the garage door.

I take the position that the crows, blackbirds, and other "less desirable" species (to most people), as well as the squirrels, opposums, skunks, and other wild creatures out there, get hungry just like the more colorful and attractive songbirds. Therefore, it is "first come, first served" but I try to provide enough food throughout the day so that none go hungry. I don't mind the squirrels at all, and if one arrives on the deck after the blue jays have grabbed all the peanuts (typically in a few seconds), I toss more out.

All are welcome with the main exception of rats, which made an appearance years ago after a neighbor tore down his shed. I wasn't sure how to displace them, but I believe scattering a little used kitty litter around the brush where I saw them sent a very powerful message and they have not returned. (Mice in the garage is an ongoing problem; they eventually return/leave/return, etc. I do not use poison.)

We had a freeze last night. I hope the hummingbird (s) survived.
VIP

Re: Anyone Participate In The Annual Spring Migration Bird Count?

P.S. The "red robin" looks more like a chickadee to me!

I didn't know Maine's state bird offhand. (When I was in junior high, I remember learning about state birds, trees, slogans, etc.) These days, I doubt most people in Pennsylvania know our state bird (and it's a relatively "big one").
VIP

Re: Anyone Participate In The Annual Spring Migration Bird Count?

By the way, almost nothing is effective in deterring the squirrels, including so-called "squirrel-proof" feeders and contraptions.

One thing that I've heard is worthwhile (but I haven't tried) is adding hot pepper to the bird food. Birds apparently don't have taste buds and are not bothered by the hot pepper, but I have yet to see a hot pepper-eating squirrel!
Community Manager

Re: Anyone Participate In The Annual Spring Migration Bird Count?

[ Edited ]

The chickadee is one of my favorite birds not only because it represents my home state but because of the delightful chirps that it makes! It was named after the sound of it's call, "chick-a-dee-dee-dee". It's a sound that accompanies many of my fond memories of Maine. Here's a photo of one, it does look similar to a robin in shape and size but as you can see it has no red on it. 

Capture.JPG

As for other robins, I did a quick search and found that there are many different types. There are two robin species of thrushes (family Turdidae) distinguished by an orange or dull reddish breast: the American robin and the European robin. The term robin is also frequently placed in combination with other names like bush-robin or scrub-robin and is applied to a dozen other chat-thrushes as well as to a few other related species. 

I like your attitude towards other hungry wild-life: first come first serve. I think squirrels and chipmunks are adorable and definitely worthy of a free snack. There's a little chipmunk who comes and says hello on my dad's back patio. Sometimes you'll randomly see its cute little face in the sliding glass door window looking in at you! However a bigger animal, like a raccoon or opossum, may be a bit intimidating--to both me and the smaller animals (even though they are worthy of free snacks too)!

Alex Cat Very Happy

VIP

Re: Anyone Participate In The Annual Spring Migration Bird Count?

I don't especially like opposums or skunks, so it is a good thing they are nocturnal and I rarely see them. I've even seen a fox standing on my driveway! (All the more reason to have indoor cats.)

There are many deer tracks in my yard during the winter months. The deer are welcome, EXCEPT for the one who ate my new blueberry shrub!

A few days ago, for the first time in maybe 15 years, I saw a frog in my front yard. It was our first 80 degree day of the new year (which happened to be above the forecasted high temperature--surprise!) and I wondered where this frog got water. I presume it is some kind of tree frog or toad (since the nearest water source, a creek, would be quite a "hop" for a frog). Due to the unexpected "heat wave", I got an old kitty litter box and made a swimming pool for the frog (marble chips on one side for the "breach"). I hope to see it swimming one of these days!
VIP

Re: Anyone Participate In The Annual Spring Migration Bird Count?

"Beach" (not "breatch") typo
VIP

Re: Anyone Participate In The Annual Spring Migration Bird Count?

And "breach" (not "breatch") typo.... oops!
VIP

Re: Anyone Participate In The Annual Spring Migration Bird Count?

Since you asked if anyone knows which photo is that of a red robin, I have a question for YOU about the chickadee photo: Can you discern if it is a "Carolina" or a "Black-Capped" Chickadee?? (There is no "Maine" Chickadee!)
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