Back to Nature (Published on TBNWeekly.com - Jan. 5, 2006)
Join on in; Every birdie counts
The sun is casting deep, live oak shadows across the front lawn. The Christmas
lights are resting until night. A cold, blue sky beckons the squirrels to play in
the warmth of the winter sun. Kitty reclines comfortably on the front window sill,
intently watching the activity at the bird feeder, tail swiping back and forth with
a snap, ears perked.
|Photo by Karen Mitchell Tremmel
|The Tufted Titmouse, a
cheerful visitor to a winter feeder.
Cardinals, Carolina chickadees, Carolina wrens and a pair of titmice peck in turn
at the suet and seed, but take little notice of a Siamese peering from the window.
Kitty mews, stretches out her long, gray, dainty paws then pretends to sleep
but her tail betrays her. Swisch, swisch, snap and curl.
I watch the comings and goings at the feeder with her and smile. There are very
few things in life that require so little effort, but offer such grand reward as a
simple bird feeder hung in front of a window. It doesnt matter if that feeder
is made of wood, a few boards nailed together or the latest, greatest space age
One of the feeders we enjoy the most is a simple wooden, hardware store variety
that swings from a long wire hung from a high branch. This particular feeder is not
exactly squirrel proof either, although it tilts fairly easily if Squirrel is not
extremely careful. Squirrel is normally somewhat animated and far from being
refined. Although Squirrel is tenacious in her efforts to raid the feeder, her
visits are usually kept quite brief, freeing up the feeder for our more welcomed
Each year more people become involved in birdwatching. Fancy equipment,
binoculars, expensive scopes, specialty designed jackets, pants, hardbound guide
books and covers, boots, hats and more line the shelves at the nearest nature
stores. All these things are wonderful, but may seem overwhelming to the average
person that just wants to learn about the birds around their home.
One simple feeder and one simple guide book is more than enough to get anyone
started on an exciting new hobby that will offer hours of entertainment and joy for
the whole family. As well, there are numerous Web sites featuring free and easily
accessible information on birdwatching right from your own easy chair.
And you know what else? You are needed, every one of you. You can actually make a
difference and benefit wildlife by joining in and contributing your bird counts.
Perhaps someone you know is homebound. Perhaps someone is recuperating and feeling
less than useful. Encourage them. Put up a feeder outside their window and offer
them a guide book. Their count counts!
Each year the Cornell Lab of Ornithology and the Audubon Society organize an
enormous joint effort project called the Great Backyard Bird Count. In 2005 they
had more than 50,000 checklists submitted, more than 600 species spotted and more
than 6 million individual birds counted. The GBBC has put out a call for volunteers
for 2006. Information from a recent GBBC press release Dec. 23, 2005:
Get Ready for the Great Backyard Bird Count!
The Great Backyard Bird Count (GBBC) returns for its ninth season on Feb. 17
to 20. The National Audubon Society and the Cornell Laboratory of Ornithology
encourage everyone to count birds with a buddy. Bird enthusiasts of all ages can
share their love of birds with a friend, a child, a Scout troop, a class, or a
co-worker-opening new eyes to the joy of birding and the fun of creating a unique
snapshot of winter bird abundance and distribution across the continent. Every pair
of eyes is needed and every birdie counts, whether in a backyard, on a high-rise
balcony, in a park, or on any of the 730 million acres of public lands.
Learn more about the GBBC project at: http://www.birds.cornell.edu/pr/count_birds_06_pr.html and http://www.birdsource.org/gbbc/
Youll find oodles of information at these Web sites, as well, you can
download a printable checklist for your area directly from the site. If you
dont have a computer, visit your local library and sign in on one of the many
public computers that are available to you. Plenty of volunteers and staff are
ready and able to assist your efforts. You may also request a free copy of
Living Bird or BirdScope by calling (800) 843-BIRD.
Its so easy to get started birdwatching and relatively inexpensive. Open up
a whole new exciting world for yourself. And whats that? Yes
theres another tufted titmouse, snap, snap, buzz, whir. Camera logs one more
sighting. Tremmel feeder chickadees, titmice, verdins and bushtits
tufted titmice: male and female, Dec. 29, 2005. Come on and join Kitty and me
birdwatching, while sitting back and relaxing in sunbeams
Karen can be reached at MyMuddyPawsStudio@gmail.com.