Tuesday, February 07, 2006

January "Yard" Birds at the Cabin

I finished January with sightings of 26 different species of birds at Roundtop, a pretty good total for mid-winter. As always, I missed seeing a few species that I should have seen. And I had a few semi-unexpected surprises.

In Pennsylvania there’s a guy who compiles yearly yard sightings of everyone who submits monthly reports to him to see who has the best list. I'm sending my sightings in to him this year, though I don’t expect to win. Last year the winner had 169 species. I have just 131 on my yard list for all the years I’ve lived in the cabin. But I was happy that I didn’t find out about this competition in, say August, as would be more typical for me. So at least I can participate and perhaps make an extra effort to see how many different species I can see here in a year.

The competition is broken into yard categories. I debated which category I should use. My own property is small and would be considered bordered by woods, pond etc. instead of the more suburban and urban categories. But, if I included all of Roundtop, I could quality for category 5, which assumes a large amount of acreage. In the end I decided on a category 3 entry, which means I can only count what I can see on or over my own property.

So here’s my January yard list:
Black vulture – this is an unusual sighting for January. I don’t usually see them until around mid-February, if there’s a few warmish days then.
Turkey vulture – not an unexpected sighting, though in cold years I often won’t see these at all in January
Canada goose – expected
Mallard – don’t always get these here in January
Red-tailed hawk – expected
Mourning dove – not as common as you might guess, at least in January
Great horned owl – expected
Red-bellied woodpecker – expected
Downy woodpecker – expected
Northern flicker – somewhat unusual in January. These birds seem to head off the mountain and down to sheltered valleys in most winters. The fact that they haven’t indicates just how warm this January was.
Pileated woodpecker – expected, though never taken for granted as these birds have a large territory and sometimes don’t make an appearance in my end of it.
Blue jay – expected, but I have more of them this winter than usual.
American crow – I think this was my the first bird I saw in the new year.
Black-capped chickadee- expected
Tufted titmouse – expected
White-breasted nuthatch – expected
Brown creeper – always appreciated. These secretive birds are always around but I don’t often get to see them.
Carolina wren – they’ll be around until I have a year with a lot of deep snow, then they will be missing for several years. Seeing them is another sign that the winter is mild.
Eastern bluebird – lots here at Roundtop, but I don’t usually hear them singing in January.
American robin – I think these larger, slightly duller-colored birds are Canadian robins who think they *have* migrated south for the winter. They hang out in flocks in the woods.
European starling – expected
Song sparrow – expected
White-throated sparrow – expected
Dark-eyed junco – expected
Northern cardinal – expected, but they’re singing already!
American goldfinch – expected

What’s missing? Screech owl, kestrel, sharp-shinned hawk, wild turkey, hairy woodpecker, Carolina chickadee, house finch, perhaps mockingbird

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