Great Backyard Bird Count

We did it! We participated in the 2014 Great Backyard Bird Count.

Here’s a little background:

Launched in 1998 by the Cornell Lab of Ornithology and National Audubon Society, the Great Backyard Bird Count was the first online citizen-science project to collect data on wild birds and to display results in near real-time. Since then, more than 100,000 people of all ages and walks of life have joined the four-day count each February to create an annual snapshot of the distribution and abundance of birds. You can count from any location, anywhere in the world! If you’re new to the count, you simply register on-line at and then you can fill in the checklist from the notes/counts you kept. In 2013, Great Backyard Bird Count participants in 111 countries counted 33,464,616 birds on 137,998 checklists, documenting 4,258 species—more than one-third of the world’s bird species!

It was our first time. We counted birds for one hour in our front garden on Monday, February 17 — Presidents Day. I whipped up a batch of scones, made a big pot of tea, and took a tray out to our front yard. Bill gathered up our binoculars. Natalie brought out a notepad and pen. I had my camera, so here are some photos:

Delicious enticements help recruit hungry volunteers: scones and tea

Hmmm…. Is that a hawk?


Look at how it’s gliding! Oh, I see the red flash on its tail… Red-tailed hawk.

identifying a hawk

17 white-crowned sparrows (which we called “chirpies” until we figured out what they were):

white crowned sparrows

I couldn’t help noticing this beautiful rose:


Here’s the data we entered on the website for the Great Backyard Bird Count: 1 mourning dove; 1 red-tailed hawk; 9 crows, 5 hummingbirds; 17 white crowned sparrows; 5 seagulls; 3 house finches; and Bill’s most eventful sighting: one black phoebe. We double-checked by looking up a few pictures on the internet before figuring out that the hummingbirds were Allen’s hummingbirds and that the seagulls were indeed California gulls.

bird list




  • Beth Tyson

    That is quite a large number of birds to see in an hour, Pamela. I don’t believe I have ever seen a Black Phoebe.

    Your rose has so many beautiful colors…yellows, pinks, peachy hues…very lovely. Your scones and tea will make this bird watching day an event to remember!

    • TwointheMiddle

      Beth, at first we weren’t sure we were going to see many birds. We sipped our tea and chatted and kept gazing at the sky. Then suddenly the hawk appeared, swooping and gliding. Bill was very excited to see the Black Phoebe — pointed black tuft on head, smaller than but slightly resembling a blue jay. And that one rose bush keeps displaying beautiful multi-colored roses — breathtakingly beautiful. It’s nice to know that one can take a one-hour field trip in one’s own front yard and feel like it’s been an adventure.

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