Monday, February 18, 2013

Caught in a Time Trap: Escape With a Birdless Walk

Today provided the argument for not letting yourself be talked into being president of any organization. This afternoon, I spent all of four hours coordinating the schedules of five people for a television interview tomorrow about our local chapter of Mended Hearts. Some bureaucracy got in the way, so I just cut the bureaucracy out of the deal. (I have learned a few things on my many laps of the block.)

At one point, I just fled the insanity for a half-hour so I could get my walk -- okay Superdawg's walk -- accomplished with some degree of satisfaction. However, I did miss out on participating in the final day of the Great Backyard Bird Count. By the time I had 15 minutes to spare, it was starting to get dark and there were only a few Chickadees and Sparrows jumping on and off the feeder. Not to worry, though: The rules required a minimum of only 15 minutes of bird-counting on one of the four days, and I counted much more than that, and on three of the four days.

Some of the statistics reported by the Cornell Lab of Ornithology at the halfway point of the worldwide count were pretty fascinating.

As you would expect, the United States and Canada had the most checklists of bird counts turned in -- almost 29,000 and 2,600, respectively. Next were India (131), Mexico (81), and Australia (50). But here's the surprise: While the U.S. had the most species reported (609), Mexico was not that far behind with 443.

The top species reported by the most countries was the humble House Sparrow (31 countries, from all continents except Africa and Antarctica). It's interesting that the Great Kiskadee was reported in 13 countries, because I've never heard of such a bird. (That means it's time to read up on it.)

The species with the most individual birds counted was the Snow Goose, with 4,224,536. Wow! I spotted 7 of them -- they flew over me in a "V" formation and landed on the pond right in front of me.

The top 5 birds reported on the most checklists were:

Northern Cardinal (14,060)
Mourning Dove (12,282)
Dark-eyed Junco (12,057)
Downy Woodpecker (10,043)
House Finch (9,504)

Check, check, check, check, and check. Yep, those five are common in my little corner of the world, too. Bless them all.

Superdawg reports 4 squirrels and 3 cats from her count. We're not sure how that compares on any international scale.

The Great Backyard Bird Count has added a new element to our walks. We will polish our counting skills and be prepared for the next one. And we will guard zealously our time for both dawgwalking and birdwatching.

© Robert G. Holland  2013

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