Nature Notes

Nature Notes

Nature Notes

Bobbie Dundas

Bobbie Dundas

My son, Scott, and I went out on December 27 to do the Bennington Christmas Bird Count. It was a cold day but with enough sun to make identifying birds fairly easy. Sometimes the count day is grey and snowy and everything at a distance just looks like a little dark bird. In the end the entire count found 50 species, which is about average. I don’t have a copy of the entire count but can report on what Scott and I saw, and didn’t see. We were struck with how few black-capped chickadees we found, only 25. That compares with the 50-plus we would usually count. We did not find any cedar waxwings, purple finches, Canada geese, mallards, wild turkeys or northern flickers. We did find 64 black ducks, all three merganser species, an American kestrel, a yellow-bellied sapsucker, both ruby and golden-crowned kinglets, eastern bluebirds and American robins among the 32 species we counted. Of note were the larger-than-usual numbers of American crows and dark-eyed juncos. The Salem, N.Y., Christmas Bird Count was held on December 30. The day was cold but manageable with a little snow. Again we found very high numbers of juncos and very low numbers of chickadees. We were lucky to find several hawks: one northern harrier, one rough-legged hawk, 13 red-trailed hawks, and witnessed a sharp-shinned hawk diving at and catching a junco for dinner. We also found three bald eagles, wild turkeys, horned larks, a common raven, more eastern bluebirds and a handful of house finches among the 30 species we added. I have not seen the final report but am told altogether we found 51 species and approximately 8000 individual birds. The next citizen science project will be the Great Backyard Bird Count, February 16 to 19. Look for more information in the coming weeks or online. This can be done by anyone, anywhere. There is a protocol to follow so know what you are looking for before you begin. A new year has arrived with frigid weather so keep your feeders filled. It appears that all our ‘missing’ birds have returned. I wish you all a Happy New Year. It is a time for new beginnings and opportunities to extend kindness and friendship. Call me at 802-447-7433 or send a message to cockatielvt@yahoo.com.

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