The 12th annual Great Backyard Bird Count weekend (Feb. 13-16) has come and gone, and I utterly failed to count anything. The task was to watch for birds for at least 15 minutes and to track the greatest number of each species seen at the same time. The trouble is that most of our avian visitors come at their morning and evening feeding times, and not always then. And family life is busy and distracting, and I kept forgetting to look out at the most appropriate times. On Sunday afternoon I did remember, printed out the local species list from the GBBC website, announced, "Okay, I'm really doing this now," and saw nothing but three gray squirrels -- which were not on the list.
I would have liked to try to count the individuals in a large flock of crows that occasionally comes through in the early evening, filling the treetops with their dark bodies and the air with their raucous caws. I would have liked to count the chickadees and house finches that are the most frequent visitors to our feeders. I would have loved to see a white-breasted nuthatch or a downy or red-bellied woodpecker or dark-eyed juncoes or overwintering robins or a goldfinch or a cardinal. A real treat would have been to see redpolls, which only visit this far south during occasional winter irruptions but have been spotted in the Twin Cities recently. Oh well. Maybe next year. Meanwhile, I'll enjoy seeing any of these birds when I next have the opportunity, even if they don't officially "count."