Bird count running through Monday
It is no secret that I enjoy watching wildlife, this not only includes game animals, but bird life as well.
This weekend brings on the Great Backyard Bird Count through Monday. Once a year, the three major conservation and scientific organizations in the North American birding community which include the National Audubon Society, Birds Canada, and the Cornell Lab of Ornithology collaborate to host the Great Backyard Bird Count.
All they ask from all of the bird watchers is to plan a 15-minute stretch of time over these days and try to identify the species of birds you see and count the number. You can do it from home or from any vantage point that has a good number of birds flitting about.
I was excited to get a plan together due to the good number of birds that take advantage of my location and our bird feeding stations. My plan was put on hold for a few hours when I heard a clunk against my kitchen window. I have learned that this sound means a bird collision and the need to quickly locate the bird lest the neighborhood cats descend on the hapless bird.
I am not new to this situation as over the years we have had many birds come to close calls trying to take a short cut through our house. We have closed curtains, relocated feeders, put silhouettes of owls and hawks on the glass but once in a while the crashing continues. Opening the kitchen door, I found a male cardinal laying on the deck, he hit into the glass in full flight and was dazed. My quick response averted disaster as a few cats aroused by the sound were soon approaching the edges of the deck area. I scooped up the cardinal and gave them a git and they scooted away with no snack.
We have a routine for any dazed or injured bird that requires our shoebox hospital and some stimulation from warm hands and breaths on the bird. Call it avian CPR if you will, but it works fairly well. Many times, the bird has hit their head and needs time to clear the fog and that is where the quiet darkness of the box comes in handy.
I sat him in on a nest of tissues and gave him some space to recover. When we hear some scratching or flutters, we take the box outside and open the lid to make an assessment. If it’s a green light the bird will take flight and be on his way no worse for the wear, if not we give him some more recovery time.
Unfortunately, our bird had an injured wing, this is bad for a wild bird and would require some more assistance. We put the call into a wildlife rehabilitator — Skye’s Spirit Wildlife Rehabilitation — and they agreed to take our cardinal and see what they might be able to do. No promises, but at least it was a chance at recovery. I am very thankful that they are in our county and have made a commitment to care for injured wildlife. To contact or support their efforts call (814) 786-9677 or check out their Facebook page at Skye’s Spirit Wildlife Rehabilitation.
If you are interested in the birds, you can find out more from the Great Backyard Bird Count website at birdcount.org. The best tools for sharing your bird sightings are by downloading the free eBird Mobile App or website using a smart phone or your computer. Birds are truly important indicators of our environments health and well being; if we pay attention to any national news, we can follow how our Earth is faring for us and the birds.
The warm weather helped us start our own bird count this week with not only varieties of birds, but good numbers. Mourning doves lead the count with 60 at a time, wild turkeys have been in good shape with around 24 birds all hens. Woodpeckers are well represented with Downy, Red Bellied, Hairy and Red Headed Woodpeckers making a showing.
The winter flocks of nuthatches, chickadees, juncos, tufted titmouse, and finches have been strong as well. Blue Jays, Red winged blackbirds, cardinals and sparrows round out the most numerous birds. We will keep an eye out for some other varieties that usually don’t disappoint us in our efforts.
For the folks that want to peruse the gun shows, there are three coming up in the next few weeks; Wurtemburg-Perry VFD on Feb. 25-26, Rocky Grove VFD on March 11-12, and Hidden Valley Sportsmen’s on March 25-26. Until we meet again, clean out your old hunting equipment and check out what might be a hidden gem from some other outdoorsman!
Jay Hewitt is an outdoors columnist for the Butler Eagle