In: Join the Great Backyard Bird Count
ripe berries are a birdís best buffet when Old Man
Winter makes nutritious insects a hard meal to find.
feeders are fantastic, too, because birds need the oil
and fat from seeds and suet to help keep them warm.
you have both in your yard, and hopefully you use those
attractants to participate in the Great Backyard Bird
Count Feb. 13-16, scheduled for Valentine Day weekend, a
time to show your love for your feathered friends. Last
year bird watchers from 135 countries participated,
documenting nearly 4,300 species on more than 144,000
bird checklists, according to a press release from the
National Audubon Society, one of the eventís sponsors.
of the most important aspects of the GBBC is its scale
ó it is now a global count," says Pat Leonard,
coordinator for the Cornell Lab of Ornithology, also a
stepping back and taking the broadest view of where
birds are found and in what numbers, scientists get a
much clearer picture of how bird populations are
changing over time. Thereís simply no other way to do
that than by harnessing the power of bird watchers
everywhere! We learn which species may be increasing or
declining from year to year, how a speciesí range may
be changing, and so on."
like to think of the GBBC as a gateway to citizen
science and a great way to learn about birds. When you
learn about something you care about it, and when you
care about something you want to preserve and protect
it. Birds certainly need protecting in light of all the
threats they face today."
you doubt your ability to recognize birds beyond a red
cardinal and a blue jay, Cornell Lab of Ornithology and
National Audubon Society offer useful online resources
ó to help anyone identify birds in their backyard and
help distinguish between birds that look a lot alike,
according to Shirley Devan of Williamsburg, Va., past
president of the Williamsburg (Va.), Bird Club,
www.williamsburgbirdclub.org . Devanís
bird-identifying trips with photos are regular features
on her Facebook feeds, joining the likes of other social
media groups, including Birds of the Eastern United
States. ó to help anyone identify birds in their
backyard and help distinguish between birds that look a
lot alike, according to Shirley Devan of Williamsburg,
Va., past president of the Williamsburg (Va.), Bird
. Devanís bird-identifying trips with photos are
regular features on her Facebook feeds, joining the
likes of other social media groups, including Birds of
the Eastern United States.
chickadees and black-capped chickadees are difficult to
identify," she says.
those of us in Tidewater Virginia and on the Peninsula,
itís easy ó we have only Carolina chickadees."
is the perfect opportunity to learn about the different
birds in your neighborhood because leafless trees and
shrubs make them easy to spot, according to Jane Frigo,
a southeastern Virginia birder and member of the Hampton
Roads Bird Club, www.hamptonroadsbirdclub.org
. Also, bird watching is an enjoyable, affordable,
anytime-anywhere activity that young and old can do
separately or together.
that is required is opening eyes and ears to the
outdoors and maybe a friend or a field guide to identify
what you see and hear for the first time," she
great place to begin is in your own backyard. You may be
pleasantly surprised at the diversity you may find there
ó 15 to 20 different species is not unusual."
are some native bird-friendly plants that the Virginia
Living Museum in Newport News, Va., suggests for your
is important to provide food, cover, and nesting sites
for birds within our home landscapes because natural
spaces where these usually occur are shrinking,"
says Bruce Peachee, horticulture curator at the museum.
(Amelanchier canadensis). Petite white flowers that
resemble cherry blossoms appear April-May. The plant
grows 25 feet tall, likes part-shade to shade and
average to poor, wet-medium soil. Edible red-purple
fruits ripen in summer, and foliage turns red to orange
in fall. Cold hardy zones 4-9.
red cedar (Juniperus virginiana). Grey-blue, berry-like
fruits appear in fall, usually October on this native
evergreen that grows 10-20 feet wide and 20-40 feet
tall. In addition to providing berries as food, the
large shrub/small tree offers shelter and nesting sites
for songbirds. Cold hardy zones 3-9.
(Callicarpa americana). Pale lavender flowers appear
June-July, followed by raspberry-pink fruit clusters
August-October. Mockingbirds and catbirds favor the
fruit. Cold hardy zones 5-8.
holly (Ilex verticillata). Tiny white flowers cover the
plant September-January, and showy red fruit embellishes
female plants fall and winter. Robins and waxwings
particularly like the plant. Cold hardy zones 4-8.
strawberry (Fragaria virginiana). White-petaled blooms,
followed by wild strawberries, cover the plant
April-June. The six-inch-tall plant likes sun to part
shade and dry soil; use it as a perennial groundcover.
Cold hardy zones 3-8.