Winter Bird Survey Coming Up by Paul Nickerson

Posted on February 1, 2016
Northern FlickerCBailey2015

Northern Flicker is a migratory woodpecker that is not typically seen in the winter in New Hampshire. This one was photographed by Christopher Bailey on the 2015 Backyard Winter Bird Survey.

Stock up those bird feeders and dig out your binoculars for New Hampshire Audubon’s Backyard Winter Bird Survey. This annual statewide survey will take place on Saturday, February 13, and Sunday, February 14. Biologists need assistance from citizens all over the Granite State to get a clear picture of what’s really happening with our winter birds.

As a longtime resident of New Hampshire, I marvel at the ways winters are so different from year to year. And along with that, I find that the birds frequenting my feeders and backyard often differ as much as the winters do. Although the survey is a few weeks away, I have been noting who is and isn’t on hand this year.

To start with, a Northern Flicker visited my suet feeder today and stayed for at least five minutes – not a common winter visitor. And on a limb just above him was a big male robin with the sun reflecting off his breast. Missing are the Red-breasted Nuthatches so common last winter, and so far, no Carolina Wrens. Eastern Bluebirds are in the holly bush, and a couple of Purple Finches are regulars at the feeder.

Turkeys are everywhere, feeding on crab apples and whatever else they can find. They are very intolerant of crows; if one lands near them, they run at it until it flies away. I watch all of this from the windows of my home; which while considered suburban, has enough woods around it to provide ample habitat for birds.

I consider my observations these days to be preparation for the survey. By then the sun will be higher and the days will be longer. Spring can’t be too far away! Maybe some of the birds which have yet to visit will turn up. We’ll be watching and encourage folks to do so as well. It’s always fun to get the summaries, and compare the results with your own.

Anyone can participate in the Backyard Winter Bird Survey by counting the birds in their own backyard on the survey weekend and reporting on-line or sending the results on a special reporting form to NH Audubon.

To receive a copy of the reporting form and complete instructions on how to participate, send a self-addressed, stamped, long envelope to:
New Hampshire Audubon, Winter Bird Survey, 84 Silk Farm Road, Concord, NH 03301.

Forms are also available at NH Audubon centers in Auburn, Concord and Manchester, and on-line. For more information about the survey, instructions and forms, or to report on-line, CLICK HERE. Prepare to start counting!