What birds are at your feeder? Keep track for the Great Backyard Bird Count

Photo of two house finches at a feeder

A house finch munching on sunflower seeds in the feeder. A cooper’s hawk watching hungrily from a perch nearby. A woodpecker knock-knock-knocking on a tree trunk.

Your yard is most likely full of different avian species, flying about during their busy day-to-day lives.

(Did you know grackles don’t like safflower seed?)

The Great Backyard Bird Count Feb. 16-19 is the perfect time to stop and take notice of them. Simply watch your yard for as short as 15 minutes or as long as you wish for one day or more of the four-day event and then submit your findings at birdcount.org.

“I think it’s good for people to know what birds we have in the area,” said Dickinson County naturalist Ashley Hansen.

Anyone who would like some help identifying birds may come to the Dickinson County Nature Center 10 a.m.-noon Friday, Feb. 16, and Hansen will help visitors document which birds are seen in the Kenue Park avian courtyard.

She will assist visitors in identifying species, with the help of bird field guides, and will give helpful hints on how to tell different species apart.

“They can discover what birds we have, and they might stumble upon something they didn’t know existed or was here,” Hansen said.

(Make your own backyard birding binoculars.)

Local birder Lee Schoenewe will also lead a birding trek during the Great Backyard Bird Count. Meet at 9 a.m. Saturday, Feb. 17, at the Dickinson County Nature Center and caravan throughout the county to check for open water along Milford Creek and to take a walk through the woods to look for birds.

“Like the Christmas Bird Count, the Great Backyard Bird Count is an important source of citizen science data about winter bird populations across North America and the world,” Schoenewe said. “You can help us add northwest Iowa bird sightings into that important effort.”

(Read what birds and other animals mate for life.)

In 2017, the Great Backyard Bird Count had 214,018 participants who documented 5,940 species.

The top 10 most frequently reported species in 2017 were:

  1. Northern cardinal, 52,422 checklists
  2. American crow, 47,275 checklists
  3. Mourning dove, 47,076 checklists
  4. Dark-eyed junco, 42,208 checklists
  5. Downy woodpecker, 38,760 checklists
  6. Blue jay, 38,402 checklists
  7. Black-capped chickadee, 36,417 checklists
  8. House finch, 35,889 checklists
  9. House sparrow, 33,749 checklists
  10. White-breasted nuthatch, 32,598 checklists

The top 10 most numerous species were:

  1. Snow goose, 4,793,261
  2. Red-winged blackbird, 2,464,572
  3. Canada goose, 1,895,077
  4. European starling, 919,038
  5. Mallard, 715,594
  6. Ring-billed gull, 647,950
  7. American coot, 500,261
  8. Greater white-fronted goose, 426,040
  9. Common grackle, 416,720
  10. American crow, 378,483

To find other birding opportunities with the Dickinson County Conservation Board, visit our environmental education page or call 712-336-6352. You can also keep up on the latest happenings on Facebook, Instagram and Twitter.

(Check out snowy owl sightings this winter.)

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