Saturday, February 15, 2014

GBBD: Counting Birds, Not Blooms

Today is Garden Bloggers Bloom Day, the day each month when gardeners from all over share whatever blooms they have, whether outdoors or indoors.  I had hoped after my paltry offering last month that I would finally have something to share today, but the anticipation I've felt the last couple of weeks has turned into disappointment.  Let's take a look, shall we?

From Jan. 21 to Feb. 4 to Feb. 14
It took awhile for my amaryllis bulb to show any signs of growth, but once it did, it quickly took off. But as you can see, the leaves are tall and glossy, but absolutely no sign of a flower stalk!  This isn't the first time this has happened to me; I wouldn't have been surprised if my older bulbs had done this because they've been pretty neglected, but this was a new bulb purchased this winter.  Looks like I need to go back to my local amaryllis expert to see what I did wrong this time.

My Kalanchoe has a few tiny blooms, and my Christmas cactus is budding up again.  But what I'm really interested in this week is not indoors, but outside:


This weekend is the Great Backyard Bird Count, a project sponsored each February by the Cornell Lab of Ornithology and the National Audubon Society to collect data on wild birds across the world. With the snow cover we've had this winter, there has been no shortage of birds to count in my yard.


You don't have to be a birding expert to participate: the website has links to sites for bird i.d. help, including the one at Cornell, which is excellent.  I certainly don't know much about birds, but I have no trouble recognizing our state bird and my personal favorite, the cardinal, who has been a frequent visitor at the feeders.


Nor do I have any trouble recognizing the less flamboyant, but just as lovely, female cardinal. But what is that little bird to her left?   When I'm not sure, I turn to my well-worn copy of  Birds of Illinois Field Guide by Stan Tekiela.  Flipping through the pages, I'm pretty sure this is a goldfinch.  Not long ago, I discovered that the goldfinch, so easy to spot by its bright yellow body in the summer, turns to a dull brown in the winter.


A frequent visitor here every winter is the Downy Woodpecker, who particularly enjoys the suet feeders.  I've learned that little red spot on his head means he's a male, which means I have at least a pair here, because I've also seen one without the red spot, a female. The most common bird I've seen is the dark-eyed Junco, including the one perched atop the feeder here.There are so many of them, usually foraging on the ground, that I'm not sure--did I count that one already??


A less common sight is the Red-bellied Woodpecker.  I took this photo a week ago, so unless I see him again this weekend, unfortunately, he won't make the count.


You don't even have to step outside to participate in the GBBC, if you don't want to.  All the photos here were taken through my large living room window (badly in need of cleaning, I might add).  To make viewing from indoors even easier, I added a new feeder this year that attaches to the window with suction cups to replace an old one that broke.  The only problem I've found with this feeder is that  it doesn't have much of a perch, so the larger birds have trouble using it.  But maybe that's a good thing--it's been popular with the small birds, like this Tufted Titmouse.  Look at those little feet!



The small birds like the Titmouse and the Chickadees aren't the only ones who appreciate this feeder. Toby and the rest of the furry inhabitants of our household have been enjoying the close-up version of bird television, too.


Watching the birds at the feeders makes counting easier, but I also survey the trees for any others too shy to come closer.  Oops, I don't think this guy is going to make the count:)


Refilling the bird feeders has become a daily routine this winter--lots of hungry birds in this cold!  The Bluejays may have a reputation of being bullies, but I think they're beautiful, and I'll keep putting out more food to keep them and everyone else accomodated.


The Great Backyard Bird Count runs through this Monday, February 17, so you still have time to participate, if you wish.  You can spend as much time as you want counting birds over the weekend or as little as 15 minutes.  All the information collected will help scientists determine what is happening with bird populations.  It's a great activity to share with kids, too, as I've done in the past with my grandkids.  And in case any of you think I have digressed from the original topic here, I leave you with this image of a White-breasted Nuthatch--a photo of a bird and some blooms.

To see more of what's in bloom around the world, visit our hostess Carol at May Dreams Gardens, who always has something to share even if her garden is also covered in snow.

33 comments:

Commonweeder said...

Great post. My eyes never seem able to do more than tell the big birds from the little birds.Not helpful for the bird count.

Susan said...

It is was a nice idea to do a post on the birds blooming in your garden. This is our first winter in our new place. We keep binoculars and the bird book close at hand while we discover the birds in our yard.

Lisa at Greenbow said...

Isn't it fun counting birds?? We have been doing that today too. The snow makes it easier to count them. Nothing unusual here either. I do see a White-throated sparrow in your first bird picture. Don't forget to count it. We had 3 of them at our feeders today. The snow brings them in. I wouldn't be surprised if you wouldn't get a snow bunting what with all the snow. Have fun.

Tatyana@MySecretGarden said...

They are all beautiful, these birds!

Marijke Verdonk said...

I love to see those beautiful birds Rose. We don't have as many different birds overhere like we did the year before. I think they can find plenty of food because we don't have wintery weather at all.
I hope for you the cold weather will be gone soon.
Have a wonderful day.

Janet/Plantaliscious said...

Your colourful birdsd compensate for the lack of outdoor blooms! Love the woodpecker.

Anna said...

Oh what a fine array of birds Rose - most of them apart from goldfinches do not visit our garden. I would love to see a blue jay. Toby looks spellbound by the proceedings licking his lips no doubt. What a shame about your amaryllis bulbs but I would not blame yourself. Here I have two new ones this year and funnily enough it's the one bought from a discount store that's doing better than its more expensive counterpart.

Maggie May said...

Loved this post and photos and the one with the cat looking at the feeder on the window is wonderful. You have some lovely birds, different from ours.

We recently had a bird count too. However, as it was so stormy that weekend, I only saw two or three in any hour. Still, it was a true representation of what was around (or not around).
Maggie x

Nuts in May

gardenwalkgardentalk.com said...

So coincidental Rose. I have a post all ready on the American Goldfinch, the bird you posted. It shows them in varying winter attire and references Cornell's article in All About Birds quarterly on their differing plumage. But the funny thing, no source could really say why the boys cross dress like the girls. Only in older male and younger females is the difference a bit greater. You did well in your bird count. This year I got some variety too until a hawk ran them all out. Happy GBBD and GBBC.

Danielle Bedics, The Magic Garden said...

I love all you bird photos. Especially the Cardinal and the Blue Jay. I used to see them when I lived in Pennsylvania and I remember how pretty they looked in the snow. I love how your cat is enjoy the view!

Danielle Bedics, The Magic Garden said...

I love all you bird photos. Especially the Cardinal and the Blue Jay. I used to see them when I lived in Pennsylvania and I remember how pretty they looked in the snow. I love how your cat is enjoy the view!

Ela said...

Wonderful post and so lovely pictures :)
Greetings

Cassi Renee said...

You've captured some great photos --that is definitely a goldfinch in its winter feathers. Most years we have a whole bunch (15 or more) that overwinter here at our feeders.

This year has been so cold that we ended up neglecting our feeders, so we have not had the birds up close to watch. This summer I want to invest in some feeders like your window feeder, that are closer to the house and easier to fill in polar vortexes!

HELENE said...

Hi Rose, I don’t think you did anything wrong with the amaryllis, you have probably just been sold a quite young bulb that isn’t ready to flower. Just give it lots of sunshine and some fertilizer this summer and let it die down as usual, next year it will flower for you :-)

Loved all the bird photos, especially the one with the cat! Over here in UK we have already done our bird count.

Retired English Teacher said...

I love the bird photos. We don't have most of those birds around here. It was a treat to see the birds from your region.

My mother is able to bring her amaryllis back year after year. She puts it on the top shelf of a seldom opened coat closet and brings it out each year to coax it to bloom again. I've never had such luck.

Dee Nash said...

Love your winter birds. We've been feeding ours faithfully too. So cold most of this winter. Nice today, but a strong wind plus earthquakes. Maybe I won't work in the garden today.

As for your amaryllis, I had two of mine do that this year. I don't think you did anything wrong. Sometimes, it's the bulb you're sent.~~Dee

tina said...

I always enjoy the GBBC each year. This year I submitted three lists! That was a record for me. Bummer on the red bellied not showing up for the count. I too feel that disappointment when I don't get that cool bird in my count. Did you let your amaryllis rest? I put mine in my garage from October until January. I think they need a rest period of certain conditions. I know those clivias do too or they won't bloom. Maybe that might be it.

Suburbia said...

Wonderful photos! So lovely to see your birds which are quite different to ours.

Our bird-count is at the end of January, I used to love taking part when the children were small but now we live in a new house there's not so much established cover and the count doesn't amount to much!

Nadezda said...

I see Rose your feeder is very popular. I love these birds as titmice, chickadee, woodpeckers, cardinals. sparrows. I try to leave them more food now. Your cat is curious!

organicgardendreams said...

Hmm, that is weird that your new amaryllis bulb is not setting a flower stalk, I also wonder what the reason for that is. Hope you can find out and even more still find a way to get it to bloom.
I truly enjoyed looking at all your bird photos. Birds can bring as much joy to the heart as flowers so maybe for that reason they can count as blooms, too ;-)?
Christina

Sarah Laurence said...

Wonderful bird photos! You're lucky to have so many feathery visitors. They make up for the reluctant forced bulb. It's snowing in Maine with a wintery mix due later this week. Sigh. I'm counting the days to blooms. Happy GBBD!

Shady Gardener said...

Hi Rose, I was hoping to join the GReat Backyard Bird Ciunt this year, but was out-of-town last weekend. Normally I participate in Project Feederwatch, which is a lot of fun. I didn't get so rolled this year. boo.
Question: Are you seeing the mourning doves? I am not, and it makes me sad.

Rose said...

Thanks, all, for visiting! And thanks for the help on the amaryllis--will try again next year!

Lisa, I could have used your help doing the bird count--I'm sure I missed a couple I didn't recognize.

Anna, I bought two from a discount store this year, one for a friend, and neither of ours are blooming! The bulbs looked healthy and were huge, so I'm not sure what happened.

Donna, For years I thought the goldfinches went south for the winter:)

Tina, I did put the older amaryllises in the garage this fall. But I didn't fertilize them at all, and I think they need to be repotted. It's the new one, though, that was really disappointing.

Shady, I did see a mourning dove, but not when I was counting birds. We usually have a lot of them during the warmer months, so I hope they're just roosting some place warmer.

And to all who commented on Toby--he loves to bird watch! He usually has some companions on top of the couch, too:)

Skeeter said...

Me and my fur babies have done a lot of Bird Watching this winter. I love my sunroom with 9 windows and a windowed door! Makes for great bird watching during the frigid days of winter. We have all the birds you show today except for the White Breasted Nuthatch. We have the Brown-headed Nuthatch. Love those little guys with their upside down ways of seed collecting. We had a good sized flock of Red Winged Black birds that have been keeping me on my toes with feeder filling. They should move on soon though as I have heard them starting to chatter in the trees. That is the sign they shall be going back home shortly. I have never partook in the count but should as I have so much activity at our feeders...

Rose said...

Skeeter, send those blackbirds our way! Their arrival always signals the beginning of spring here!

Rosie Nixon said...

That Bluejay is so beautiful and make a garden bloggers bloom day post so colourful. Hope you thaw out soon and get to photograph some flowers Rose.

Corner Gardener Sue said...

Hi Rose,
I enjoyed seeing your bird photos. I always think I'm going participate in the bird count, but forget to.

Thanks for your nice comment on my blog. While it was a shock to find out we were going to have another grandchild, I am now looking forward to her arrival.

PlantPostings said...

Hi Rose: This was a most enjoyable post. I'm not sure how I missed it--I'm having some trouble with Blogger tracking my favorite blogs. You have so many wonderful visitors at your feeders. They're all familiar and ones we have here, too, although I think we might be too cold for them this winter. They're probably hanging out by the warm springs at the lake on the brutal days. Brrrr ... poor little buddies!

sweetbay said...

You got a lot of good pictures, and the birds must have been very grateful for the food! The backyard bird count is a wonderful project that I never remember to take part in, unfortunately.

The Sage Butterfly said...

I am hoping to get the amaryllis I received for Christmas to bloom again this year. They are so pretty and welcome at that time of year. Your backyard photos of birds are lovely. Your cat seems as curious as mine from the window.

Jennifer said...

We have many of the same birds on our feeders. The smallest woodpecker at your feeder visits our feeder daily. We also have the larger Red-bellied woodpecker who visits on occasion and then there is one even bigger woodpecker who comes about once a month. He is really, really big. They just love that suet don't they! Have a wonderful weekend Rose!

Casa Mariposa said...

You and I have all the same birds. We have another big storm coming so I'll be filling up the feeders again today. I've never had much luck with amaryllis, either. They grow foliage but no flowers and then flop over. Sad.

gardeninacity said...

Nice shots of the birds! We have many of the same ones, though I have never seen a tufted titmouse. I wonder why? In my opinion the cardinal is the most glorious of the songbirds in winter.