|The Great Gray Owl|
Woodpeckers are regulars in my backyard, so just about every day is the best day of my life. Many of the other birds I observed were on the Top 10 list worldwide: Northern Cardinal, American Crow, Mourning Dove, Dark-Eyed Junco, Downy Woodpecker, Blue Jay, Black-Capped Chickadee, House Finch, House Sparrow, White-Breasted Nuthatch. My most exciting discovery was the presence of bluebirds that inhabit a swampy area beyond local ballfields because of the existence of many dead trees to serve as housing for them. Of particular note from the GBBC sponsors was the bounce-back of Crows from the bottom of the Top 10 to No. 2 this year. They take this as a good sign, perhaps, that Crows are rebounding after being hard-hit by the West Nile Virus. I see a lot of Crows around here, and respect them as perhaps the savviest birds around.
I also saw plenty of my good friends the Double-Crested Cormorants, Canada Snow Geese, and Snowy Egrets. Oh, and not on a bird count day, but I spotted two Mute Swans on a local lake last week. We used to see a pair of these gorgeous creatures virtually every day for years, but then they disappeared. Sure hope they are back -- or a new couple is. (Swans, of course, mate for life, a trait not necessarily shared by humans.)
All this is a big yawn to my incredible walking dawg, Miss Ellie Mae, who thinks birds are prey, along with pretty much anything else that moves. (Thank God she hasn't caught one yet.) Today, this part-Chesapeake Bay Retriever stopped suddenly, went into her pointer stance, and barked loudly and steadily at a heavily vegetated pond we were passing. I wouldn't be surprised if a gator lurked in there somewhere. They do pop up around these parts occasionally.
Anyway, the next Great Backyard Bird Count will not start 'til February 17, 2018. Ah, but you can keep in touch and report the birds you have seen year-round. Just check out birdcount.org for details.
Happy birding -- and dawgwalking! Or birdwalking, if you will.
© Robert Gray Holland 2017