High: 27° FIt wasn’t an ideal day for a bird count—not with the spitting precipitation and gusts of wind. Still, that didn’t deter the dozen or so individuals in Central Maine who took part in the Audubon Society’s 109th Christmas Bird Count. The 12 of us spanned out over a good part of Waldo County from sunrise to sunset, logging every feathered creature who crossed our path.
Low: 18° F
Conditions: Increasing cloudiness and wind. Winter Weather Advisory Takes Effect at 11:00 p.m. tonight.
Ari seemed particularly excited about the count—mostly, I suspect, because it meant six hours of walking the woods and roads around our house. And, for once, it also meant that I did not demand a speed-walking pace with few stops for sniffing.
As I kept my eyes peeled towards the tree line and sky, Ari focused hers on terra firma. This struck me as an incredibly naïve posture for a bird count, and I made no bones about telling her so. I pointed out that while this was only her second Christmas bird count, it was my eighth, and the extra six years had surely taught me a thing or two about where birds like to hang out. I started waxing about air currents and good perching branches when I was interrupted by this band of waddling birds:
That’s right. They’re on the ground.
This is the face of a smug dog.
Not to be out done, I reminded the caninaturalist that domestic fowl are not eligible for our avian census. I pointed out she would know that if she had read the instructions from Audubon. And then I remembered aloud that dogs can't read. She pretended not to hear me, then looked around for the stinkiest thing she could find—also on the ground.
This is the posture of a vindictive dog.
We called a truce and agreed to keep counting.
By 3:00 p.m., the wind was making further counting difficult, so we made our way back home. While I left for the pizza party hosted for biped birding volunteers, Ari completed our tally:
1 Pileated Woodpecker:
2 Herring Gulls:
8 Blue Jays:
1 White-Throated Sparrow:
5 Common Crows:
7 Nuthatches (5 red-breasted; 2 white breasted):
And yes, Ari, I won't forget about the neighborhood guinea hens and ducks (or that delightful aroma of dead things insinuated in a soggy dog coat).
Friends, be sure to mark your calendars! The 2009 Great Backyard Birdcount will take place on President's Day Weekend (13-16 Feburary). Once again, we'll have daily tallies from our participating blogging friends and a prize for the most birds counted. Don't forget DWB members, last year's winner was a GOAT (we're just saying. . . ).