Thursday, February 16, 2012

Create a birding adventure in your own backyard

woodpecker I stopped by my friend Leslie’s house the other day to drop off some native plants for her. I meant to just leave the plants and continue on with my chores but, as usual, her yard made me linger. The second I stepped out of my car and heard the lovely musical tweets, chirps and twitters coming from her wildlife friendly landscape, I just HAD to stay and soak it all in for awhile.

Leslie and her husband epitomize what it means to share a landscape with wildlife. Although my husband and I have left our yard natural for the wildlife, Leslie and her husband have taken a typical suburban lot and made it into the perfect bird sanctuary by planting the entire property with native plants, installing rain barrels and water features, eliminating chemicals and hanging multiple feeders throughout their property. They even special order seed that they know the birds love and hang pieces of fruit in the trees for woodpeckers and squirrels.

My thought as I was driving away that day was “Wow, they sure get a lot more birds than I do.”
And then when I got home, I stopped and listened for awhile and realized that my yard was filled with almost as much birdsong as hers was. It’s just that I was taking the time to listen while I was visiting Leslie, while sometimes at my house I get too busy with my chores and indoor activities to pay enough attention to what’s going on outside.

That is one of the great things about the Great Backyard Bird Count (GBBC) that starts tomorrow, February 17th, and runs through February 20th. Now in its 15th year, the GBBC is an annual 4 day event that encourages participants to count the various bird species that visit their own backyard and record their findings online. Not only does the GBBC provide data that helps scientists track bird populations and trends, but it provides a great opportunity for anyone to get better acquainted with the wildlife that visits their own yard.

I encourage you to visit the Great Backyard Bird Count website and find out more. You even have the opportunity to win great prizes, just for participating!

To get an idea of the birds you might see,  enter your zip code on the website to get a list of some of the birds  in your area. Here is a link to the list for Washington, DC.

Now, if you’ll excuse me, I have to run!! I hear the birds calling.
Related post: Does eco-friendly gardening help local wildlife populations?

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