Great Backyard Bird Count

By: Joe Sebastiani, Seasonal Program Team Leader

Images by Derek Stoner, Conservation Project Coordinator

Derek Stoner and I led the Delaware Nature Society’s traditional Breakfast and Great Backyard Bird Count program this morning.  The Great Backyard Birdcount is a continent-wide citizen science bird survey run the National Audubon Society where anyone can participate today through Monday, February 20th.   It creates a snapshot of birds in mid-winter useful to science as a way to look at bird trends over the years.  Bottom line for us and you…it is fun!

Here we are birding at Coverdale Farm Preserve near Hockessin for the Great Backyard Bird Count. Image by Derek Stoner

After our group of 10 participants enjoyed a hearty breakfast (that Derek and I cooked) of pancakes, eggs, potatoes, scrapple, bacon, and fruit (for something healthy), we went out to bird.  This year we decided to take a walk at the Nature Society’s Coverdale Farm Preserve with a stop at Hoopes Reservoir.

We found several Eastern Bluebirds, some of which demonstrating territorial rights at nest boxes. Image by Derek Stoner

We tallied common species as well as unusual.  Lots of Eastern Bluebirds were out, and some looked to be claiming bird boxes on this warm February day.  Many House Finches were flocking, and some were singing.  The House Finch song remains one of my favorites in this area.  It was good news to see a small flock of about a dozen Field Sparrows in the overgrown fields.  As we finished, two adult Bald Eagles flew over, as did the surprise of the morning, a Merlin, which is a small, rare falcon.

The surprise of the day was seeing a Merlin fly over very close. This is a rare species in winter in our area. Image by Derek Stoner

At Hoopes Reservoir at the causeway, we found Mallards, Black Ducks, Common Merganser, Bufflehead, Lesser Scaup, Ring-necked Ducks, Pied-billed Grebe, and a male Canvasback, which is a rarity here.

Can you pick out the Canvasback behind the Canada Geese? It is the white duck with the maroon head. This is another rarity in northern New Castle County at any time of year. Image by Derek Stoner

You too can participate through Monday.  Just look for at least 15 minutes somewhere, and enter your checklist at  Participate each day if you want, and even multiple times per day.  Identify the location you were birding by zip code or nearest town and enter your birds.  Check out the Results section on the website as well to see what else has been seen in Delaware or other states.  Good luck and have fun!

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