Sunday, January 22, 2012

Your Average Backyard Bird

Dark-eyed Junco with snowy beak

European Starling
Once the snow hits, and the ground is inaccessible, the action at the feeders really picks up. That means the best time of year for bird watching has begun! The Audubon Society’s Great Backyard Bird Count was set up to help track wild bird populations. It helps scientists figure out which species are surging in numbers and which might be declining. They can also track their patterns of migration and determine the effects of urbanization, climate change and disease. Last year 594 species were represented, 92,000 lists were submitted, and over 11.4 million birds were counted! On their website, you can see lists of the most populous birds in the country, or break it down locally. Last year, these were the most common birds in the Nyack area:

1) European Starling
2) American Goldfinch
3) House Sparrow
4) House Finch
5) Junco
6) White Throated Sparrow
7) Crow
8) Mourning Dove
9) Northern Cardinal
10) Blue Jay/Turkey Vulture/Chickadee (tie)

Red-bellied Woodpecker

White-throated Sparrow
Maybe you're wondering how Nyack compares to the rest of the Northeast? Here are the most populous birds last year in the Mid-Atlantic, East Central, Northeast, Great Lakes, Allegheny and Atlantic Canada regions, according to the Cornell Lab of Ornithology:

1) Chickadee
2) Dark-eyed Junco
3) Mourning Dove
4) Downy Woodpecker
5) Blue Jay
6) American Goldfinch
7) Northern Cardinal
8) White-breasted Nuthatch
9) House Finch
10) Tufted Titmouse

By conducting our own hyper-local bird count, we can see what the most common birds are in our own backyards and compare our results with our neighbor's. Do you have more Blue Jays than Juncos? More Chickadees or more Woodpeckers? I did an informal count of the birds at my feeder this past weekend, and made a list of the most popular birds. It ended up being much different from their's:

1) House Sparrow
2) Dark Eyed Junco
3) Blue Jay
4) Tufted Titmouse
5) White Throated Sparrow
6) Chickadee
7) White-breasted Nuthatch
8) Downy Woodpecker
9) Red Bellied Woodpecker
10) Mourning Dove

Downy Woodpecker
I’ve only had a few transient European Starlings visit, though it’s the top bird nationally. I rarely see Northern Cardinals and can count on one hand the number of times I’ve seen an American Goldfinch. What about you? How do these lists stack up to yours?

Go to the Great Backyard BirdCount site and sign up for this year’s count, running February 17 – 22.

Mourning Dove


Lorilee said...

I don't see many woodpeckers. I usually see starlings, huse sparrows, white wing doves, ground doves, cardinals, bluejays and mockingbirds. This winter, I also have a coupe of rufous hummeers.

Pam J. said...

Nice report and photos! I'm 250 miles south of you and have tons of American goldfinches. They are brilliant yellow (the males) in the summer; much less so in other seasons. I have a thistle feeder which helps keep them in my backyard.

Bangchik and Kakdah said...

woodpeckers are beautiful to look at...... sweet looking and yet very tough!!

Stacey said...

I'm jealous. I don't feed the birds because we have such a rat problem in DC and they love bird seed. I do have tons of birds in the summer in my garden and the goldfinches are my favorite.

k said...

You have my juncos! They just fly through here, spring and fall. I love to see them.
But then again we have ravens this time of year, and I saw a bald eagle out the window during a meeting. And yes, I interrupted the meeting.
Sparrows and starlings, grackles, crows and chickadees are most common at my house, but we do have jays that nest in a tree nearby, so we get a lot of complaining. See gulls, but not at my feeder. There's a warm pond where a group of Canadian Geese winter over within a few blocks. They don't come by my yard though.
I guess I have Lake effect birds.

TALON said...

Awesome pics, JGH! We see a lot of house sparrows, juncos, cardinals, blue jays, crows, ravens, mourning doves (they practically live on our feeder), european starlings, nuthatch, woodpeckers - black-backed and downy, chickadees...mostly these in the cold weather months.

Malay-Kadazan girl said...

This is a wonderful yearly event.

the home tome said...

I don't think I've ever seen a junco, but then again I've never even heard of one until reading this :) We get a lot of cardinals and blue jays. A few woodpeckers have stopped by to say hi and carve their initials in trees :)

garden girl said...

Wonderful bird photos! We have many of the same birds here in northern IL right now. I love being able to see the downy woodpeckers so easily now that trees are bare.

catmint said...

wonderful project to be involved with - sadly I think here in the suburbs bird numbers are declining. Like you we have pigeons (doves), sparrows and crows. I don't know about the others.

catmint said...

what a worthwhile project. We have some of these birds, unfortunately in our suburban part of the world bird numbers seem to be decreasing.