Tuesday, December 16, 2008

4 Calling Birds, 3 French Hens, 2 Turtle Doves, and a Partridge in a Pear Tree

High: 27° F
Low: 18° F
Conditions: Increasing cloudiness and wind. Winter Weather Advisory Takes Effect at 11:00 p.m. tonight.
It 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.

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:

7 Juncos:

1 Pileated Woodpecker:

2 Herring Gulls:

12 Redpolls:

13 Goldfinches:

37 Chickadees:

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. . . ).


Khyra The Siberian Husky said...

I see who the nice one is fur Santa Paws and Khlaws!

Ari khould have save that shot fur huzzy day next month!

Furry nice blog - Mom and I love to watch birds too - akhtually I try to make 'em get of the bushes so she khan see 'em *WINK!*


Maverick the Pirate said...

Harrrrrr Ari
we heard a wood pecker in the trees but could not see it Harrrrr.
Cap'n Maverick the Pirate
P.S. you can come over and be on the crew on the Good Ship Mavericks Run we think it will go fast with the skis Harrr.

Kess And Her Mama said...

Hey, the dog is always right! I love the pic of Ari wriggling on the ground.

Kodak the Eskie said...

I absolutely love the pictures of the birds. They are beautiful. That looks like a very fun outing. Especially the rolling in the stinky stuff!! I do that too.

Hugs, Kodak

JB's Big World said...

That looks like a fun walk. And yes, we know about soggy dog coats at my house now too!

Tracey and Huffle said...

That smug look on Ari's face is priceless. I don't know why humans argue so much. Really.

Huffle Mawson, Honorary Husky and Explorer Cat

The Army of Four said...

Roll, Ari, ROLL! What fun; I hope it was nice and odiferous!
We can't wait for the backyard bird count! We see all kinds of cool birdies out on our walks! We saw a hawk yesterday that was almost as big as ME! Ha roooo!
Play bows,

Marigold said...

Oh, so THAT is where all our goldfinches have gone for the winter! Who knew? At any rate, the GOAT is ready to take on the competition. Our calendar is MARKED! Get on your mark, get set, GO!

Steve, Kat, & Wilbur said...

I figured Ari was the one who demanded the speed walking pace!


Eve said...

Oh I think every yard should have at least one Guinea Fowl!! I mean two guinea fowl! (that would not be fun to have just one!) Great job finding that bunch. I love the bird illustrations. Good tally Kathryn. I'm planning on going on Saturday to do our Christmas count. This will be my 3rd or 4th one here.

YourFireAnt said...

I love how smart that husky is from hanging around with you.



Tracey and Huffle said...

Ari, in honour of you being way more clever than the humans, there is an award for you over at my blog today.

Huffle Mawson, Honorary Husky and Explorer Cat

Amici said...

Ari looked like he wanted to pounce on those walking birds but gave the smug expression as he rolled in the dirty stuff. :) Clever boy you got there.

Pippa said...

Oh we remember your bird count from last year.

All we ever see here are seagulls. But there are an awful lot of them and they are very noisy.