Friday, February 20, 2015

"Amazing Hummingbirds" at Home and Garden Festival

Our annual Home and Garden Festival is this weekend, February 21 and 22, at the Multi-Purpose Event Center (MPEC).

On Sunday at 1:00 PM I'll be making a presentation, "Amazing Hummingbirds," in the main auditorium. I hope you can make it.

Wild Bird Rescue will also be participating in the Home and Garden Festival in the main exhibit hall.

Good birding!

Tuesday, February 17, 2015

North Texas Bird and Wildlife Club Meets Tonight

The North Texas Bird and Wildlife Club meets tonight, February 17, at 7 PM at 5310 Southwest Parkway (The NALC building next to Wichita Valley nursery.)

The group will certainly review the results of the Great Backyard Bird Count and discuss interesting sightings by the members. Guests are always welcome.

Good birding!

Great Backyard Bird Count Highlights

The Great Backyard Bird Count (GBBC) was February 13 - February 16. I was traveling on the 13th, so didn't have the opportunity to bird that day(airports don't try to attract birds.) However, I did take part in two group counts on Saturday and Sunday and did a solo count on Monday.

I was very happy to see 13 people join me for the GBBC at Lake Arrowhead State Park on Saturday. Since the Rolling Plains Chapter of the Texas Master Naturalist counted this as volunteer time, it did help our numbers, and we had several members there. We had some very experienced birders with the McKees and also some very new birders. Our new birders were able to add some life birds to their lists--that always makes for a great day.

It was really a beautiful morning. During our 2-hour walk, we saw several good birds. I am sure I captured all of the species we saw, although I may have missed some of the numbers. Our list:

Canada goose
White pelican  11
Double-crested cormorant   4
Killdeer    10
Greater yellowlegs  1
Great blue heron   1
Ring-billed gull   31
Mourning dove  2
Ladder-backed woodpecker   3
Red-bellied woodpecker   1
Golden-fronted woodpecker   1
Northern flicker  1
Roadrunner   1
Northern mockingbird    5
Bewick's wren    4
Northern cardinal  10
Eastern phoebe  2
Eastern bluebird   2
American crow  3
Red-winged blackbird  2
Western meadowlark  13
Meadowlark species   9
Brown-headed cowbird   5
White-crowned sparrow  8
Fox sparrow   1
Harris's sparrow   13
House finch  15
House sparrow   2

On the way home from Lake Arrowhead, I did see a red-tailed hawk and a couple of kestrels (just nice for me--they didn't count for the GBBC.)

GBBC participants at Wild Bird Rescue trying to locate
the ruby-crowned kinglets

On Sunday, we had a group count that started behind Wild Bird Rescue. However, with no water at that end of the lake, the birding was rather flat, so we moved to the Chat Trail in Lake Wichita Park. We spent an hour at Wild Bird Rescue and another 1 hr, 25 minutes on the Chat Trail.

At Wild Bird Rescue we counted:

Canada goose   2
Mallard duck   2
Ring-billed gull    9
Killdeer    1
White-winged dove   9
Eurasian collared dove   7
Northern harrier   1
Northern cardinal  2
American robin  1
Ruby-crowned kinglet   2
Blue jay   1
American crow   6
Great-tailed grackle   1
Red-winged blackbird   5
European starling    3
House sparrow   6

On the Chat Trail we had the following birds (and I am quite sure the cardinal numbers are low--they were everywhere!)

Canada goose   6
Mallard duck  18
Double-crested cormorant  10
Killdeer  7
Turkey vulture   1
Eurasian collared dove  2
Downy woodpecker   1
Ladder-backed woodpecker  1
Carolina wren   1
Northern mockingbird  2
Blue jay  3
Northern cardinal   13
Eastern phoebe   1
Yellow-rumped warbler  3
Orange-crowned warbler   1
Ruby-crowned kinglet  1
Cedar waxwing   8
American robin   30
Dark-eyed junco  1
White-crowned sparrow   5
Song sparrow   3
Lincoln's sparrow    1
Harris's sparrow  2
Red-winged blackbird    3
Brown-headed cowbird  2
Great-tailed grackle  5
American goldfinch   6
House finch   1

On Monday, I headed to Lucy Park for a count. The temperatures took a nose dive between Sunday and Monday, so I was fairly certain that I would be the Lone Ranger for this walk, and I was right. I've noticed that Texans don't like cold weather much (which here, means anything much below 50 degrees.) My thermometer read 26 degrees when I headed out the door. However, there was very little wind, so it was a fairly pleasant morning.

How do you like the new trail signs? I think they are great--many thanks to the Parks and Recreation Department.

I didn't take the entire route I normally take as Monday was a work day and I always feel like I am playing hooky. If the birding had been stupendous, I would have sucked it up, but it was average at best, so I kept my walk down to 1.25 hour.  The birds found included:

Northern shoveler  2
Mallard duck  28
Ring-billed gull  37
Rock pigeon   14
Mourning dove  1
Red-bellied woodpecker  2
Northern flicker   4
Brown creeper  1
Blue jay   6
Northern mockingbird   1
Northern cardinal  4
Ruby-crowned kinglet  1
Carolina chickadee  4
Tufted titmouse  1
Dark-eyed junco  12
American robin  43
Great-tailed grackle  17
Red-winged blackbird  22
House finch    5

Overall, a fairly good few days of birding. I'm already looking forward to next year's count.

Good birding!

Tuesday, February 10, 2015

Great Backyard Bird Count This Weekend

The annual Great Backyard Bird Count is February 13 - February 16. This is a great opportunity for new birdwatchers to learn more about the birds and is also an excellent way to introduce young people to birdwatching in a painless way.

Participation can be for as little as 15 minutes. The idea is to watch birds in your own backyard--literally or figuratively. Usually I make it a point to count all four days, but will be out of town on the 13th. However, I plan to count the other days. On Saturday and Sunday there are some special events to help people get involved.

On Saturday, Lake Arrowhead State Park will host the GBBC with their monthly bird walk. The walk starts at 8:00 AM. It usually lasts an hour--more if the participants want to bird longer. Meet at the firewood shed in the first campground to the left after you enter the park (take the second left and first right--the firewood shed will be on the left.) Look for a black pickup.

On Sunday, Wild Bird Rescue and the Rolling Plains Texas Master Naturalist chapter will host a GBBC event out behind Wild Bird Rescue at 4611 Lake Shore Drive in Wichita Falls, TX. Again the count will start at 8:00 and will last as long as people want to count. This is a come-and-go, so you can stay for as long or short a time as you wish.

There are no group counts scheduled for Monday, February 16, however, I will be birding Lucy Park on my own and am making an open invitation to others who might want to take part. Meet at the main entrance to the park in that first parking area to the left as you enter the park at 8:00 if you are interested in taking part. This parking area is adjacent to the picnic tables and River Bend Nature Center. If you want to contact me ahead of time, email I expect I'll be birding for about 2 hours, if I follow my usual route.

Take advantage of the many opportunities to get outside and watch the birds this weekend!

By the way, this weekend is also the education weekend at Wild Bird Rescue. 10:00 AM on Saturday will be the hawk/owl program. A special program on "Birds in Love" will be Sunday at 1:00 PM on Sunday (at least one education bird will be present at this program as well.)

Good birding!