Yesterday I visited Reedy Creek Nature Preserve just outside of Charlotte, N.C. Within three minutes of stepping on to the nature trails, I saw a red-bellied woodpecker, a white-breasted nuthatch and a beautful tiny little golden-crowned kinglet. The kinglet looked like an oversized fluffy cotton ball flitting between branches with a head topped by a fierce burnt-umber streak. It pecked at the tree bark with a tiny beak, picking up small insects and fluffed itself repeatedly against the cold.
I often watch the birds at my seed feeder at home. A pair of field binoculars are often within arms’ reach of my workspace, so I can sneak a peak at birds in between tasks while I am writing. I’ve noticed in the past week that house finch visits are more frequent and numerous; the goldfinches are beginning to molt from their drab winter olive-gray to vibrant golds and yellows – the male’s black caps are starting to come in. Pine warblers are also making their rare appearance at the feeder, presumably because they can’t find enough insects in this frigid winter. The brown-headed nuthatches never ceased or drecreased their visits to the feeder throughout the winter. Every morning and evening, they alight to the perches and vigorously dig through the seed mix until they find a cashew or peanut, and then they fly to a tree, wedge the food bit firmly into a bark groove and they peck it into smaller pieces they can better handle.
I like getting to know the birds in our yard. I rarely ever go bird watching though. It’s mainly a function of not having enough time, and not knowing where to go. And so it was with great pleasure that I stood on the path at Reedy Creek last night and watched the golden-crowned kinglet flit through his feeding grounds. Bird watchers take great pleasure in watching birds, learning how to identify them and learning about their behavior. But there is often a disconnect between watching them and conserving them — or so I am told.
The Cornell Lab of Ornithology is trying to bridge that gap with several citizen science projects like eBird, Project FeederWatch and the Great Backyard Bird Count. The goals of these projects, very generally, is to allow birders to submit checklists online where the data input are captured to make maps showing species abundance and distribution and to track changes in these over time.
Do you know of other similar projects for birds? If so, please let readers know in the comments section.