Birding is one of our favorite shared activities; we simply find the world of birds endlessly fascinating. It’s something we can do every day while working on the farm, by simply paying attention to what’s around us in the fields and woods. Or it’s something we can do as part of quick trips to conservation areas and wildlife refuges, as well as longer trips. Paying attention to birds fits well into our lifestyle and our interests.
Knowing and understanding the presence and patterns of birds on the farm also helps us assess the changes and improvements we’re making to the landscape. As we clear and restore more overgrown land to pasture and eventually prairie, we hope to start seeing more open-land birds return (such as quail, dickcissel, etc), while preserving a significant tract of established forest. Understanding birds helps us understand the farm.
To this end, we’ve started keeping daily records of bird observations on the farm. While we’ve often noted the arrival or presence of new or unusual birds in our farm journal, these isolated records don’t help us capture the overall patterns, especially the negative data for when birds leave for the season (it’s harder to notice the absence of something than its presence). Hence the daily records, which in the first month have been great fun to peruse. Obviously these are not fully complete, as weather, tasks, habitat preference, and other factors affect our ability to observe. But it’s still a useful overall dataset.
Throughout the year, we’re intending to post monthly summaries of the birds seen or heard on the farm, with any important notes on behavior or context. We hope this will be of interest to folks who care about the natural world on farms, and it will certainly be a good record for us if we keep it up over time. So here goes with January 2011.
17 days from January 15-31, 2011 (Number of days we saw/heard the species is in parentheses)
Canada Goose (7) Flocks of 20-200 in flight over farm
Red-shouldered Hawk (1)
Red-tailed Hawk (2)
Mourning Dove (2) Foraging after heavy snow
Barred Owl (5) Hunting from trees along the orchard, post-snow
Red-bellied Woodpecker (12)
Downy Woodpecker (7)
Northern Flicker (6)
Pileated Woodpecker (2)
Blue Jay (16)
American Crow (5)
Tufted Titmouse (14)
Black-capped Chickadee (9)
White-breasted Nuthatch (4)
Carolina Wren (12)
Golden-crowned Kinglet (4)
Eastern Bluebird (4) Usually in large flocks passing through
American Robin (2) Usually in large flocks passing through
Hermit Thrush (1)
Yellow-rumped Warbler (4)
Northern Cardinal (17)
Song Sparrow (5)
Dark-eyed Junco (16)
Unidentified ducks (1) Flock of ~50 in flight over farm