Thursday, December 24, 2015

Peace, Joy, and the Christmas Bird Count

This lovely male house finch, high in a tree above Sibley Swale, was beautifully illuminated during the Christmas Bird Count last Saturday. The morning was cold, cold -- with not much wind, but enough so that walking west made the eyes water and the face go numb.

During the count it helps to put a highly visible notice on one's vehicle explaining why you're driving slowly and peering through binoculars at people's houses (but really, at their bird feeders, trees, shrubs, and lawns).

It was good to once again do the count in the company of Dan Kahl, the caretaker and naturalist at Mount Olivet Retreat Center in Farmington. My husband Dave joined us for part of the morning as well, but unfortunately his one good eye was bothering him and he wasn't seeing well, so he bowed out about halfway through.

Our territory, as usual, covered a rural area east and south of Northfield as well as much of the south side of Northfield itself. We drove most of it but walked a bit of Sibley Swale, the Sibley School nature area, and the marshy area just west of the south end of Archibald Street.

This was our count for the morning -- 20 species, which is two more than last year:
  • 60 house sparrows
  • 40 European starlings
  • 32 American crows
  • 26 dark-eyed juncos
  • 14 blue jays
  • 14 mallards
  • 12 American goldfinches
  • 9 house finches
  • 7 pine siskins
  • 6 downy woodpeckers
  • 5 black-capped chickadees
  • 5 rock pigeons
  • 3 white-breasted nuthatches
  • 2 American tree sparrows
  • 2 mourning doves
  • 2 northern cardinals
  • 1 Canada goose
  • 1 red-tailed hawk
  • 1 ring-necked pheasant
  • 1 red-bellied woodpecker

Gene Bauer always does a meticulous job of organizing our regional Count, and it's so much fun to breakfast with all the other CBCers at Gene and Susan's house and return to report in and warm up over soup at lunchtime. Many thanks to them, as always.

To all: Wishing you peace and joy in this season of darkness and lights, and the restorative and transformative blessings of nature in the year ahead.

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