Friday Feeder Feature: The Great Backyard Bird Count 2016

At Goose Pond, we've been practicing for the for the 2016 Great Backyard Count that begins TODAY and goes through Monday February 15! We enjoy feeding our feathered friends and look forward to the annual Count! 

  Goldfinches feeding at Goose Pond Sanctuary feeders

Goldfinches feeding at Goose Pond Sanctuary feeders

Want to give the Great Backyard Bird Count a try? It only requires 15 minutes (or longer, if you wish) and it helps scientists better understand our local bird populations. Click here to find out how you can participate!

Looking back at past data shows how bird numbers change. In 2015, bird watchers from over 100 countries submitted 147,265 checklists and observed 5,090 species for the count.

We will be counting at both Kampen Road residence and at our Wildland cabin near Wyocena. Black oil sunflowers, sunflower fines, white millet, suet, and cracked corn are found at both count sites. At Wildland we are also feeding shelled corn that attracts wild turkeys, fox squirrels, and cottontail rabbits. We want to thank the customers at Mounds Pet Food Warehouse that purchase bags of bird seed exclusively for our Goose Pond feeders. The birds go through a lot of "Madison mix" in one season!

  Tree sparrows near millet piles. Mark and Sue suggest moving your millet pile locations frequently to avoid pest and disease problems.

Tree sparrows near millet piles. Mark and Sue suggest moving your millet pile locations frequently to avoid pest and disease problems.

Our Goose Pond Sanctuary habitat includes restored prairie, spruce and cedar shelter belt/cover unit, two corn food plots and shrub plantings. The Wildland habitat in Wyocena includes restored prairie, oak savanna with brush piles, and a large red pine plantation on our neighbor’s land.

We have observed the following species in the past two weeks at the two sites: ring-necked pheasant, Cooper’s hawk, red-tailed hawk, rock pigeons, mourning doves, red-bellied woodpeckers, downy woodpeckers, hairy woodpeckers, blue jays, American crows, black-capped chickadees, white-breasted nuthatches, American tree sparrows, dark-eyed junco, northern cardinals, house finches, common redpolls, pine siskins, American goldfinches, and house sparrows. It is interesting to note the different feeding times of species. At Wildland, turkeys arrive around 8:00 a.m. and have fed and moved on in 30 minutes while cardinals feed heavily just before dark.  Some people ask how we count large numbers of doves.  At Goose Pond, the doves line up on the power line making for easy counting.

In the local area there are hundreds of horned larks and Lapland longspurs along roadsides that are easy to count. We will also try and find Eurasian collared doves west of Arlington.

If you want to get involved, know that bird counts for the GBBC can be conducted anywhere, and are not restricted to back yards like the name might suggest. 

Click here to see how you can help on this citizen science project!

The data for the GBBC is available for review as quickly as it is entered.  Stay tuned for our results, which we will post on the MAS website soon!

By Mark and Sue Foote-Martin, Resident Managers, Goose Pond Sanctuary.