04Feb2013_1a_Backyard_Sharp_ShinYes. It has been a while! I can tell you this, though. The Boise downtown Peregrines have been spotted around town at different locations and they look healthy. The photo to the left is a Sharp-shinned Hawk that landed in our alley last February and has been seen around the area this year. He has left some “tell tale” signs. Robin forwarded this article to me about how to identify Coopers Hawk and a Sharp-shinned Hawk. It can be extremely difficult. Coopers Hawk and Sharp-shinned Hawk from Feederwatch. From the article,

Sharp-shinned (Accipiter striatus) and Cooper’s (Accipiter cooperii) hawks commonly prey on feeder birds, and they are frequently reported by FeederWatchers. Despite their common occurrence, these hawks present a significant identification problem for many beginning and intermediate (and even more advanced!) birders. There is great variation in plumage and in size for these two species. Therefore, perhaps more than any other similar-looking birds, no single field mark is likely to distinguish one species from the other. Instead, the careful observer must use a combination of field marks and draw from the overall “gestalt” of the hawk for proper identification. No field guide will substitute for plenty of practice in the field.

If you participate in Project FeederWatch, observed one of these two hawks during a FeederWatch count, and are not absolutely certain which hawk you observed, please report the bird as an “Accipiter sp.” (the genus in which these two species are classified).

If you are going to participate in the Great Backyard Bird Count (GBBC), and this is a national event, you can get information from the site listed above. It is free and they do provide you with all the information and resource you will need. Cheers and Keep Looking Up!

GBBC Latest News. The Numbers are awesome!

American Robin

American Robin

Here is a post from the Great Backyard Bird Count. These are amazing numbers!

Bird Watchers Take the GBBC to New Heights

The numbers tell the story. With its new global reach, the 16th annual Great Backyard Bird Count becomes the largest worldwide bird count ever! As of today:

4 Days
103 Countries
120,000+ Checklists
3,144 Species
25.6+ Million birds

That species total represents nearly one-third of the bird species in the entire world. Bird watchers in the U.S. and Canada set new national records for tallies submitted. Reports have come in from as far away as Antarctica and Afghanistan. So far, 30 states and 3 provinces have set new records for checklist entries. Here are the top ten countries by checklists submitted so far:

Japanese Green Woodpecker by Masami Yoshimura, 2013 GBBC
United States 107,538
Canada 10,970
India 391
Mexico 263
Australia 143
United Kingdom 84
Peru 83
Puerto Rico 79
Iceland 78
Portugal 72

Other Preliminary Results:
Top 5 Most Reported Species (reported on highest number of checklists): Northern Cardinal; Dark-eyed Junco; Mourning Dove; Downy Woodpecker; House Finch
Top 5 Most Common Birds (most individuals reported): Snow Goose; Canada Goose; Red-winged Blackbird; European Starling; American Coot
Finch Invasion: A massive number of northern finch species moved into the U.S. including the Common Redpoll, reported in a record 36 states. Scientists believe these periodic movements are related to natural fluctuations in crops of conifer cones and other seeds in Canada.
Hurricane Sandy: The weather system that caused Sandy’s landfall also blew some European birds to North America and evidence of this is still showing up in GBBC results. The colorful, crested Northern Lapwing was reported in Georgia, New Jersey, and Massachusetts during the GBBC.
GBBC First: A Red-flanked Bluetail has wintered at Queens Park, Vancouver, and was also reported for the GBBC’s first record ever. This British Columbia bird has been drawing bird watchers from all over the U.S. and Canada hoping to see this rarity. This little thrush is one of the only birds in the world with a striking blue tail and is native to Asia; the other GBBC report of this species this year was from Japan.
A more extensive summary of the results will be published on the website in March after scientists at Audubon, the Cornell Lab of Ornithology, and Bird Studies Canada have a chance to review the reports.

Here is a direct link to the GBBC Web Site. You can also find a link in the sidebar. Enjoy and Keep Looking Up!

GBBC Visitors





It has been a pretty good 4 days this year for the Great Backyard Bird Count (GBBC), at least in our area of Boise. And I know, the Squirrel pictured here is not even a Flying Squirrel. But he did visit us. Many times. Enjoy these photos of some of the birds that we have seen during this event. Left-Click any of these photos to see enlarged. Keep Looking Up!








Mourning Dove

Mourning Dove

Rock Pigeon

Rock Pigeon

American Robin

American Robin

Black-Eyed Junco (Oregon Race)

Black-Eyed Junco (Oregon Race)

House Finch

House Finch

House Finch

House Finch

When you look at these birds enlarged, it sure does emphasize their colors and their markings. Cheers!

The GBBC is Halfway

2013-GBBC-Logo_JPGThe Great Backyard Bird Count (GBBC) is halfway through an amazing wekend of counting the birds in your backyard or neighborhood or just about any place. We have been counting in our backyard. I just received this report from the GBBC at Cornell. Looks like there have been some really busy folks!

GBBC Soars Around the World
We’re a little more than halfway through one of the biggest bird counts in the world, and we’re seeing great participation from the U.S. and Canada as well as from far-flung regions of the world. Thanks to everyone who has been counting with us—please keep the checklists coming!

Halftime Results:

Number of Countries Reporting Checklists: 75

Top 5 Countries with the Most Checklists Reported:
United States (28,949)
Canada (2,620)
India (131)
Mexico (81)
Australia (50)

Top 10 Countries with the Most Species Reported:
United States (609—approaching last year’s U.S./Canada total of 623!)
Mexico (443)
India (340)
Australia (253)
Panama (241)
Canada (229)
Costa Rica (187)
Belize (123)
Colombia (117)
Great Britain (117)

Top Species Reported by the Most Countries:
House Sparrow—31 (All continents but Africa and Antarctica)
Rock Pigeon (26)
Great Egret (20)
Cattle Egret (17)
European Starling (17)
Eurasian Blackbird (15)
Great Cormorant (15)
Black Vulture (14)
Great Tit (14)
Turkey Vulture (14)
Eurasian Collared-Dove (13)
Gray Heron (13)
Great Kiskadee (13)
Mallard (13)

Species with the Most Individual Birds Reported:
Snow Goose (4,224,536)

Top 5 Birds Reported on the Most Checklists:
Northern Cardinal (14,060)
Mourning Dove (12,282)
Dark-eyed Junco (12,057)
Downy Woodpecker (10,043)
House Finch (9,504)

For latest results please visit

2013 Great Backyard Bird Count (GBBC)

2013-GBBC-Logo_JPGYup! It’s that time of year again. Watch and count the birds in your backyard and be a participant in the Cornell Lab of Ornithology’s nationwide bird count. You can get more information by following This Link to the official page. I will also keep a link in the sidebar for your use. This can be a lot of fun and you will be surprised at the number and the varieties of birds that frequent your feeders and yard. Cheers and Keep Looking Up!

Last Day for the GBBC for 2012

This has been a fun and interesting adventure this year as in past years. We expanded slightly and also logged the birds seen at Barber Park, east of Boise and along the Boise River. Surprise species were logged, namely the Mute Swan. Enjoy these photos that I took today. The Great Blue Heron to the left is an example. Keep looking up!

Great Blue Heron ( Arden herodias)

Mute Swan (Cygnus olor)
The Mute Swan (Cygnus olor) is a species of swan, and thus a member of the duck, goose and swan family Anatidae. It is native to much of Europe and Asia, and (as a rare winter visitor) the far north of Africa. It is also an introduced species in North America, Australasia and southern Africa. The name ‘mute’ derives from it being less vocal than other swan species. Measuring 125 to 170 centimetres (49 to 67 in) in length, this large swan is wholly white in plumage with an orange bill bordered with black. It is recognisable by its pronounced knob atop the bill. Mute Swans have been introduced into North America and the increase in numbers has deemed it to be an invasive species. Other introduced populations are small, with around 200 in Japan, less than 200 in New Zealand and Australia, and about 120 in South Africa. (

Mute Swan

Day 1 – GBBC

Here are two feathered friends that we had this morning. A Pine Siskin (female) and a House Finch (male). Clear blue skies and 47 degrees here in Boise. A great start to the count. It’s supposed to rain tomorrow. Enjoy the rest of the photos. Keep Looking Up! Here is a copy of the sightings we submitted this morning.

Thank you for entering your observation in this year’s Great Backyard Bird Count. Below is a report summarizing the bird checklist you submitted.

Defending the territory!

Here is the information you gave for this observation.

Record ID: S9852988
Email: 83702, Boise, Ada County, ID
Observation Date : FEB 17, 2012
Start Time: 9:30 AM
Total Birding Time: 1 hour

Pine Siskin on ground

Party Size: 2
Skill: good
Weather: excellent
Snow Depth: No snow was present
Habitat(s): Urban
Number of Species: 10
All Reported: yes
Rock Pigeon – 7
Mourning Dove – 8
Northern Flicker – 1
American Crow – 3
Song Sparrow – 18
Dark-eyed Junco – 7
House Finch – 23
Pine Siskin – 17
American Goldfinch – 12
House Sparrow – 27
Canada Geese – 7

Information submitted through February 20, 2012 will be included in online reports within 60 minutes. Information submitted after February 20, 2012 will be included in online reports within 2 hours. To see how your results fit into the big picture, go to the Great Backyard Bird Count home page and click on “Explore the Results.” If your bird checklist included unusual species or high numbers of individuals, you may receive an email from a regional editor requesting more details.

House Finches sitting high in the tree.

Thanks for participating in the 2012 Great Backyard Bird Count. Please join us again for next year’s count. Mark your calendars for February 15-18, 2013.

If you enjoyed the Great Backyard Bird Count, check out eBird at, where you can report the birds you see every day of the year. eBird helps you keep track of your lists–and archives your sightings so they’re accessible to everyone, including other bird watchers and scientists. It’s easy and fun to use–and it’s absolutely free!

The Great Backyard Bird Count and eBird are joint projects of the Cornell Lab of Ornithology, National Audubon Society, and Bird Studies Canada. Please help support these and other efforts on behalf of birds by becoming a member. Visit for membership in the Cornell Lab of Ornithology, for membership in the National Audubon Society, or for membership in Bird Studies Canada. Thank you for your support!

GBBC Coming Up Soon!

I’m working on and getting ready for the Great Backyard Bird Count next weekend, Feb 10-12. There is a link for more information and “supplies” in the sidebar, too. We must have had close to 100 Goldfinches, in all stages of molt, along with a few Junkos, Pine Siskins and House Finches feeding. Here are some photos, mostly of the Goldfinches. All of these photos are in our backyard. I have a difficult time IDing the different sparrows.

Goldfinches and Pine Siskins on a Finch Sock.

Here are the Goldfinches and Pine Siskins on a suet block.

Their diets are varied. Here they feast on sunflower seeds.

Chipping Sparrow

House Finch

15th Annual Great Backyard Bird Count

The Great Backyard Bird Count (GBBC) will soon be upon us. In fact, February 17-20, 2012.

Anyone can participate in this free event and no registration is needed. Watch and count birds for at least 15 minutes on any day of the count, February 17-20, 2012. Enter your results at, where you can watch as the tallies grow across the continent. The four-day count typically records more than 10 million observations.

The 2011 GBBC brought in more than 92,000 bird checklists submitted by participants from across the United States and Canada. Altogether, bird watchers identified 596 species with 11.4 million bird observations. Results from the 2011 GBBC included:
• Increased reports of Evening Grosbeaks, a species that has been declining;

• A modest seasonal movement of winter finches farther south in their search for food;

• The Eurasian Collared-Dove was reported from Alaska for the first time, more evidence of an introduced species rapidly expanding its range.

Although it’s called the Great “Backyard” Bird Count, the count extends well beyond backyards. Lots of participants choose to head for national parks, nature centers, urban parks, nature trails, or nearby sanctuaries. For more information, including bird-ID tips, instructions, and past results, visit

The count also includes a photo contest and a prize drawing for participants who enter their bird checklists online.

Robin and I do this yearly and it is fun and surprising to see what birds come to your backyard. Use and inexpensive feeder – don’t forget the water, too – and the birds will flock to your yard. Much more information is available at their web site at Bird Source. I will place the above graphic and hot link it, in the sidebar. Keep Looking Up!

Day 3 – GBBC

Once again, a fairly good hour observing for the Great Backyard Bird Count. The “Weather Wizards” say that tomorrow, the last day for the count, should be sunny, but still cold. We’ll see. Today was less than 2″ of snow on the ground and light snow falling, 33 degrees F, winds WSW@9mph. Maybe I’ll do the Greenbelt tomorrow if the weather is OK.

My count today was 5 American Robins, 9 Dark-Eyed Junkos and 1 probable Red-Tailed Hawk. The photo of the hawk is below. What do you think it is? Please let me know. The photo was taken at about 1 block range, so detail is OK at best. No tripod was used. Nikon D3000, 300mm, 1/500, F5.6, ISO 400.

Probable Red-Tailed Hawk

Red-Tailed Hawk

Keep Looking Up!