Sunday, February 19, 2012

Field Report: Great Backyard Bird Count at John James Audubon Center at Mill Grove, Feb. 18, 2012

On Saturday morning, February 18, Vince Smith lead a group of 11 birders on a walk through the John James Audubon Center at Mill Grove. The main purpose of the walk was to collect a report of sightings for submission in the Great Backyard Bird Count. Since Mill Grove was John James Audubon's first home in the U.S. and now serves as a museum to his work, a National Audubon Society center, a nature preserve, and headquarters to the Valley Forge Audubon Society, we felt it important to include in the annual count. 615 individual birds in 30 separate species were spotted. The highlights included a Yellow-bellied Sapsucker, large numbers of Red-winged Blackbirds and Common Grackles flying overhead, and a male Cooper's Hawk found feasting on a Mourning Dove. The Cooper's Hawk was spotted on the ground and then flew off to the limb of a nearby tree, leaving behind a huge pile of dove feathers. It remained on the branch for a long while, providing excellent looks, its talons still bloody from its recent meal.

The Great Backyard Bird Count is an annual event held by the Cornell Lab of Ornithology and one of the best examples of citizen science - using ordinary naturalists and nature lovers to collect data that is used for research.

Here is the complete list of birds spotted on the walk:

Canada Goose - 140
Mallard - 10
Common Merganser - 6
Black Vulture - 2
Turkey Vulture - 4
Cooper's Hawk - 1
Herring Gull - 1
Mourning Dove - 3
Red-bellied Woodpecker - 6
Yellow-bellied Sapsucker - 1
Downy Woodpecker - 1
Northern Flicker - 1
Blue Jay - 11
American Crow - 4
Fish Crow - 1
Carolina Chickadee - 6
Tufted Titmouse - 6
White-breasted Nuthatch - 6
Carolina Wren - 2
Eastern Bluebird - 8
American Robin - 2
European Starling - 50
Yellow-rumped Warbler - 4
Song Sparrow - 2
White-throated Sparrow - 8
Dark-eyed Junco - 10
Northern Cardinal - 7
Red-winged Blackbird - 225
Common Grackle - 80
House Finch - 7

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