Thursday, February 25, 2010

Great Backyard Bird Count - or yes I am still alive

The last month has mostly been a scramble working on my Lower Rio Grande Valley Report and applying for/interviewing for various jobs. Because of this I haven't had much time to work on my blog or to even go birding.
However on the weekend of the 13-14th of February I did participate in the Great Backyard Bird Count. This event sponsored by the Audubon Society and the Cornell Lab of Ornithology is an attempt to create a Christmas Bird Count like event during a more "true" (at least for most of North America) winter season (Christmas time is actually more like very late fall for most birds, often times very northern birds have not yet come down into the U.S. while some birds that normally winter farther south may still be lingering up north at Christmas time).
Anyway I spent all of Saturday the 13th and much of the rest of the weekend birding around the area at as many of the local hotspots as I could, trying to wrack up a lot of checklists. Stillwater has led Oklahoma in number of checklists submitted for this event every year since I arrived, and I wanted to do my part again (submitted 10 checklists for different locations again this year. Though I didn't find anything super interesting I did find the only Greater White-fronted Geese submitted for Oklahoma during the count period, and had about 50 species overall, so it was still a good time to be birding the sooner state. I also saw a large number of Red-shouldered Hawks, like the one above, which is always nice.
As spring draws ever nearer and I hopefully can start wrapping up the initial draft of the rio grande valley report I hope to get out birding/lepping/herping a lot more so I can have some actual material to update my blog!

Tuesday, February 2, 2010

Blizzard Birds

As many of you may have heard, Oklahoma got hit pretty hard by last weeks and weekend's winter storm. Though Stillwater was not among the unfortunate communities that lost power for extended periods, we were effectively snowed/iced in for a couple of days.

During periods of poor weather, birders will often notice increased bird numbers and activities in their yards and feeders as birds attempt to compensate for the increased stress of cold and wet weather by eating more and different foods. I personally had a new yard bird during the storm. Eastern Bluebirds normally occur in more open areas on the edge of town, and I had never before seen one at my yard in the middle of blocks and blocks of houses and suburban yards. However with the coming of the storm Nikki and I found a flock of 17 Eastern Bluebirds chowing down on the berries in the backyard. Other birds that we noticed with unusual numbers or activities included Dark-eyed Juncos, Northern Flickers, Mourning Doves, and Ruby-crowned Kinglets.