Signs of Spring

People have been noting on Twitter and on the radio various signs of spring. We like to look for changing bird plumage, ourselves.

The bright yellow shoulder feathers on the goldfinch are a sign of spring
Gold Signs of Spring

Sometimes there are just hints to start…

 

In our exhibits, the nesting birds are carved and painted in their breeding plumage; the wetland diorama birds are not. Come by and compare what you’ve seen to the carvings, and learn what to look for! We’re open by appointment until April 30th, then open for regular hours.

February at the Feeders

Noted through our viewing window in February (more or less in the order we saw them; the ones we didn’t see last month are in bold):

    Downy Woodpecker
    Downy Woodpecker

  • Blue Jays
  • Mourning Doves
  • Hairy Woodpeckers
  • Downy Woodpeckers
  • Black-capped Chickadees
  • Ruffed Grouse
  • Northern Cardinal
  • Wild Turkeys
  • Red-Breasted Nuthatches
  • Common Raven
  • White-breasted Nuthatches
  • Tufted Titmice
  • American Crow
  • Red Squirrels
  • Gray Squirrels

January Feeder Birds

Hairy Woodpecker via our FeederCam
Hairy Woodpecker via our FeederCam

At lunch, we like to eat while gazing out of the Viewing Window at the museum.  We keep an unofficial list of birds (mostly) seen at that time, jotting them down on a nearby whiteboard.  Here’s who we saw in January:

  • Downy Woodpeckers
  • Hairy Woodpeckers
  • Black-capped Chickadees
  • Blue Jays
  • White-breasted Nuthatches
  • Red-Breasted Nuthatches
  • Northern Cardinal
  • Mourning Doves
  • Wild Turkeys
  • Tufted Titmice
  • Red Squirrels
  • Gray Squirrels

You can see some of what we see with our FeederCam, too. We also participate in in Project FeederWatch, a more formal way to  collect and record bird data.

About Project FeederWatch

The Christmas Bird Count isn’t the only citizen science activity that the Museum does. We do Project Feeder Watch, too. It makes for a very pleasant lunchtime: good food and a viewing window (today we saw our first Wild Turkey and Tufted Titmouse of the month). Many of you with feeders at home or work can participate. You can sign up at any time. Here’s an overview from a recent Cornell Lab of Ornithology‘s e-newsletter:

Project FeederWatch

The 2009-10 season of Project FeederWatch begins November 14, though you can sign up at any time. FeederWatchers keep track of their birds through the winter and report their tallies each week. This helps scientists track changes in winter bird populations from year to year.

To learn more and to sign up, visit the Project FeederWatch website. New participants receive a kit with a handbook, a bird-identification poster, calendar, and instruction booklet. There is a $15 fee ($12 for Lab members) to help cover the costs of materials and participant support. If you live in Canada, please visit our partner, Bird Studies Canada, or call (888) 448-2473.

Bear v. Feeders. Bear wins.

A 300 pound bear came by last week; only Bob saw it. It shook the bird feeder pole so hard that all the feeders fell down, and the bear destroyed them.

Today Bob dug a hole around the pole and we helped pour cement down the hole, two bags worth, and as soon as it sets up in a day or so, we will be able to leave the feeders out at night again.

Bob also made new hooks for the new feeders so that they are secure against vibration, in case the bear tries it again!

I just finished re-greasing the pole, so squirrels, raccoons, and bears beware!

—from a letter by Ingrid Riga, Curator,  to a sponsor of several of the carving exhibits