The great backyard bird count

Feb. 10—About every day, I pause at one of our windows and watch the birds visiting my feeder. Coming up are some dates where I will be taking a pen and paper to make a list of all the different birds I observe. It is a chance to join in on the nationwide population research of our feathered friends. For four days in February, you can unite with fellow birders from your own home to participate in the Great Backyard Bird Count at: Watch the birds for 15 minutes or more at least once during Feb. 16 — 19, then identify the birds you see or hear and share your observations.

Interested in comparing observations? Go to and you can explore the counts of birders near you or find other resources for birders on the Great Backyard Bird Count's website.

After just a few minutes of watching, I'm amazed at the diversity of the birds coming to my feeder. From the tiny chickadees to the huge Pileated Woodpecker, it seems there is no end to the variations.

When the feeder is empty and the suet cakes are gone, my local bird menagerie is right there, watching and waiting patiently from the branches of nearby trees and bushes. As time has passed, the birds have become more and more used to me, and far less fearful than when I first started feeding at our home in Moscow over 20 years ago.

Usually the first to greet me when the feeder has been refilled are the brave-hearted little chickadees. I marvel at the fact the tiny birds which are smaller than my thumb, can survive the ravages of winter. Even if they are well fed, it is amazing they are able to survive 15 degrees below zero and hard winds.

Next up, and coming for the suet blocks are usually the downy woodpeckers. These quick response rascals have even landed on the sunflower seed feeder within inches of my nose as I attempted to replenish the suet blocks.

Coming quickly as well, are the clowns of the bird world... the nuthatches. Chittering away and walking up and then down headfirst on the nearby tree trunks, they wait impatiently for me to back away just a few feet before swooping in to quickly snatch a sunflower seed.

I have a small table and chairs just a few feet away from the feeders where I can sit and watch the feathered menagerie come and go. Occasionally, if I'm quiet and still and don't make any sudden movements, I'm rewarded when a Red-bellied Woodpecker or a Pileated Woodpecker comes to the suet blocks.

Nothing goes to waste as the bits and pieces of sunflower seed and pieces of suet are scavenged up by tiny sparrows.

The local squirrels get in on the banquet as they diligently search and munch all of the spilled sunflower seeds.

Contact Aaron Kirchoff at