two sparrows clinging to dry grass in the snow
What's the Buzz?

Great Backyard Bird Count Begins!

Hello 1-Hour Gardeners! Today marks the start of the Great Backyard Bird Count. As they say at the Cornell Lab of Ornithology…Red, Set, Bird!

Congratulations All You Citizen Scientists!

According to their statistics, all you birders found 70% of the entire planet’s birds last year. That’s you, plus 50,000 other compadres. It’s a great team. And I know you want to be part of it again this year.

Participating is super-easy:

  1. Watch birds anywhere, anytime from February 12 to the 15. Watch for at least 15 minutes and keep track of how many individuals of each species you saw. (I recommend using the Merlin Bird ID app. It’s a great tool…and it’s free! Get it now. No time to waste!)
  2. Then record what you saw on You’ll have to create an account…or use the same one you set up last year. It’s easy to do. The same as it is for setting up accounts on websites all over tarnation.
  3. Rinse. Then Repeat! Count as many times as you can over these 4 days, and record what you saw.
  4. By entering your sightings, you’re automatically entered to win ZEISS binoculars.
Screen shot of Cornell lab of ornithology, with photo of great horned owl in tree with bright green leaves all around

Bring the Kids

Get out there with your kids…and don’t hog the binoculars. Make sure they get a turn.

If you haven’t been able to see family for a while, you can go out “together” in different parts of the country. Just like we all look up at the same moon and feel together, you can look at birds and talk about what you saw. Great sharing…great togetherness across the miles.

Take Pictures

You don’t have to be good at it. I’m not. But I did catch this wing marks in the snow in my backyard. Not sure what they are. They look like wing marks…

two sets of six scrapes of wing tips in the snow

According to the Canadian Wildlife Federation, it’s possible to find “strike marks” of an owl—left in the snow, as they scrape the ground to grab their prey.

But there is usually a big scuff mark in between where they grabbed the animal. What do you think? Perhaps it missed its mark and just left the wing prints?

Then again, it looks like a smaller bird. What do you think it is?

Give me your ideas. And tell us all about the cool stuff you saw!

Happy Great Backyard Bird Count! Hoot! Hoot!

1 thought on “Great Backyard Bird Count Begins!”

  1. Sounds like fun. While looking at property for sale – I spotted a red tail hawk perched just above my head on a garage roof in an alley in Chicago. Startled, I thought how weird… till I realized how many rats likely run in the alleys. Later, while working on fixing up my daughter’s new Northwest Side property, I noticed a dozen or so mourning doves singing merrily away in unusually dense pines. Prior owner topped the main trunks to limit height so they developed multiple leaders like a saguaro cactus. I checked out the habitat most favored by mourning doves. Dense foliage is prized by that species. Happiest sounding place in Chicago all day long. Neighbor lady says she saw a Cardinal and sparrows in there too. Be fun to count the whole bunch.

Leave a Reply to Jeff Milroy Cancel reply