Great Backyard Bird Count worldwide this Friday

This video from the USA says about itself:

27 January 2015

This is some general background and information on the 2015 Great Backyard Bird Count that takes place all over the world! This is the 18th year for this event and is sponsored by The Cornell Lab for Ornithology, National Audubon and Bird Studies of Canada. Everyone can participate – YOUNG AND OLD – birder or NOT! It’s easy and fun! JOIN US!

From the Cornell Lab of Ornithology in the USA:

The Great Backyard Bird Count (GBBC) begins this Friday, February 13! Count birds for just 15 minutes, or count all 96 hours until the end of Monday—just be sure to count!

The GBBC broke records in 2014—with more than 140,000 people from 135 countries counting more than 33 million birds. Help us achieve even bigger numbers this year!

Read the GBBC 2015 preview—including the latest on winter finch movements and international birding expectations—on our All About Birds blog. Then get ready to count later this week. Registration is free and easy. If you’ve counted in the GBBC since 2013 or if you participate in another Cornell Lab citizen-science project, you’re already registered…just count and have fun!

Study up on your tricky birds: Is that a flicker or a sapsucker? A Black-capped Chickadee or a Carolina Chickadee? A Cooper’s Hawk or a sharp-shinned? This Tricky Bird IDs primer will help you distinguish these species.

Pledge to Fledge: New this year, the GBBC is joining a grassroots campaign to encourage birders to mentor someone else and share their love of birds. Take the pledge online and you’ll receive a tip sheet on “How to Fledge a New Birder.”

Thanks to everyone who took part in the 18th annual Great Backyard Bird Count on February 13-16. People sent in more than 147,000 checklists from more than 100 countries. In all, you reported a record 5,090 species, equal to nearly half of all bird species in the world. In many parts of North America the cold, windy, snowy weather made birding challenging, but participants saw enough Snowy Owls to suggest an “echo flight” had occurred. Sightings ranged from winter visitors like Pine Siskins in North America; to an enormous flock of Bramblings in Europe; to reports elsewhere in the world of two birds that aren’t even officially described as species yet—an owl and a tapaculo. Read the full roundup and see how your region did.

Duck courtship behaviour video

The Cornell Lab of Ornithology in the USA says about this 21 January 2015 video:

Even in the dead of winter, ducks provide us with some of the first signs of spring as they begin picking mates for the upcoming breeding season. The Macaulay Library dug into the video archives to put together this mash-up of interesting duck courtship behaviors, many of which are happening right now on ponds and lakes.

Got Mallards near you?: If so, take a look at this blog post that includes a guide to commonly seen mallard courtship behaviors.

Learn more in a webinar: Choose from our selection of archived webinars—presented by the Cornell Lab’s Dr. Kevin McGowan—to build your birding skills in waterfowl identification and understanding bird behavior.

United States snowy owl news

This video is called Snowy Owl (Bubo scandiacus).

From the Cornell Lab of Ornithology in the USA today:

A Snowy Owl Sequel?

They’re baaacck…reports of Snowy Owls are lighting up the eBird maps across the northern United States again this winter. Is this another irruption, or an echo flight? Read the latest with analysis from an eBird project leader at our All About Birds blog.

Sign up for Snowy Alerts: With another influx of owls, eBird is again offering a Snowy Owl Alert service that emails you whenever a new snowy is seen.

North American birds sleep in nestboxes in winter too

This video is called Where Do Birds Go In Winter?

As we have seen, birds in the Netherlands use nestboxes for sleeping during cold winter nights.

Birds in other countries do as well.

From the Cornell lab of Ornoithology in the USA:

Roosting In a Winter Wonderland

by Robyn Bailey, NestWatch Project Leader

I have a few nest boxes around my house that have never been used for nesting, but I don’t dare relocate these duds. That’s because they have another purpose, for which I am happy to sacrifice them. They’re bird hotels, or if you prefer, “roost boxes.” That is, birds only use them in winter, tucking themselves in at night to keep warm and giving me great bird-watching opportunities all winter that I wouldn’t otherwise have.

It started with an Eastern Screech-Owl nest box three years ago. After checking this box all summer with binoculars, I didn’t see an owl face in the entrance hole until October. Then I saw it almost every day until March, after which sightings became a rare treat. But the following October, there it was again, sunbathing in the entrance hole. Then there’s the smaller box that is mounted on the side of my garage. No takers, but something was enlarging the entrance hole—I finally spotted the culprit, a Downy Woodpecker! Just about every night before sunset, the woodpecker flies to the box, peeks his head in before entering, then looks out one last time before settling down. Until recently, the small box on my back porch has never hosted anything. So imagine my surprise when an unidentified speeding bird-bullet came flying out of it as I walked onto the back porch and accidentally startled it (and it, me).

Most cavity-nesting birds will use nest boxes as a warm, dry place to sleep at night. Some roost individually, such as the Downy Woodpecker, but others, such as bluebirds, will roost in groups. Cavity roosting, especially in groups, can reduce heat loss, which in turn helps survival. In a study conducted in 1961, S. C. Kendeigh estimated that as much as 11% less energy may be burned by birds sleeping in cavities than out on a limb.

Watching your birds come home to roost at night, or in the morning in the case of owls, can be a lot of fun. So don’t be discouraged if birds aren’t nesting in some of your boxes; they may be roosting in them! How can you tell? A box that is used for roosting  will contain feathers and droppings. If you really want to provide the five-star treatment, you can also build your own roost box for small songbirds that is specifically designed to minimize heat loss and accommodate groups of sleeping birds.

Identifying North American birds

This video, from the Cornell Lab of Ornithology in the USA, says about itself:

Inside Birding: Size and Shape

Learn the most fundamental skill for identifying birds: recognizing them by size and shape. Birding experts Chris Wood and Jessie Barry show you how to compare different birds and employ your observations to make a confident ID.

Join them in the field to practice these techniques on common birds and learn how to distinguish similar species such as Hairy and Downy woodpeckers.

This video, also from the Cornell Lab, says about itself:

Inside Birding: Behavior

Recognizing behavioral clues is a key component of bird identification.

Improve your identification skills by watching Lab experts as they examine posture, foraging behavior and flight style.

This video, also from the Cornell Lab, says about itself:

Inside Birding: Habitat

Join birding experts Jessie Barry and Chris Wood as they explore the marshes, cypress swamps, and nearby mangroves of Florida’s Loxahatchee National Wildlife Refuge in pursuit of the elusive Limpkin.

This video, also from the Cornell Lab, says about itself:

Inside Birding: Color Pattern

Color and plumage patterns are key components of bird identification. Improve your birding skills by watching Lab experts as they demonstrate how to recognize the color patterns that will help you identify birds with confidence.

Feeding North American birds in winter

This video from Indiana in the USA says about itself:

Winter Birds’ Feeding Frenzy

5 January 2013

My pagoda sunflower seed bird feeder served as the perfect feeding station, making this feeding frenzy a birdwatchers’ delight. Watch as Bluejays, Northern Cardinals, Chickadees, House Finches, Goldfinches, Tufted Titmice, Nuthatches, and House Sparrows all dart in to feed and take a spin on the pagoda feeder, while Red-bellied and Downy Woodpeckers dine on the nearby suet. Listen as the Pileated Woodpecker comes in close to scold from a nearby tree, but stays out of camera’s view. Notice, as the days get longer, the Goldfinches are already starting to get some yellow back.

From the Cornell Lab of Ornithology in the USA:

Make Your Yard Songbird Central With These Easy Dos and Don’ts

There’s no better time than winter to diversify your feeder setup and bring some lively color to your surroundings. The right combination of feeders and foliage can turn your yard into the songbird version of Grand Central Station. We’ve got all your bases covered—feeder safety, all sorts of alternative foods, natural shelters, and more—over on our Citizen Science blog. Check out our tips.

Make a Pretty Feeder From a Pine Cone: All you need are cones, some bird seed, and a little suet. Here’s our recipe.

Prothonotary warbler wins mural painting contest

This video is called Prothonotary Warbler Portrait.

From the Cornell Lab of Ornithology in the USA:

The Prothonotary Warbler was voted as the winning warbler to be featured in the Cornell Lab of Ornithology’s centennial mural.

This Thanksgiving, all the world’s Prothonotary Warblers are settling in for a meal of caterpillars and flies in their winter homes in the mangrove forests of Central America and the Caribbean. They’ll return to the swamps and wetlands of eastern North America around April. …

Our featured bird for this year’s Thanksgiving eCard is the Prothonotary Warbler, the winning warbler in more than 32,000 rounds of voting on our website last week. As a result, artist Jane Kim will feature the Prothonotary Warbler in the mural she is painting at the Cornell Lab of Ornithology to celebrate the diversity of birds for the Lab’s centennial in 2015.