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Sunday, 16 February 2020

Great Backyard Bird Count 2020


15 February 2020

     Each year at Waterloo Region Nature (the finest little nature club in the universe) Mary Ann Vanden Elzen organizes our participation in the annual backyard bird count conducted across the continent.
     We do it in style, however!
     Instead of peering out our own windows into our own backyards, we visit the homes of three members of our club, who welcome us with coffee, tea, hot chocolate, aromatic steaming cider, muffins, cookies and the like, and at the last stop, lunch. Having been spoiled in this fashion so frequently, I cast my unanimous vote to continue this tradition forever!
     Brenda Holvey hosted us first. Brenda's husband, Alan, had always been there to welcome us too, but Alan passed away last year at the age of ninety-three, and it is a tribute to Brenda, now ninety-one years old, that she is still living in her own home and continues to welcome so many fellow naturalists. I should add that she received sterling assistance from Meg Slater.

Brenda


     I can tell you from personal experience that no one is possessed of more intelligence, good humour and wit than Brenda. I am so happy that she is my friend.
     Here we are looking anxiously at the feeders, which were for the most part not patronized extensively.










     Of course, given the very strenuous nature of this kind of birding, we had to keep going back to refuel with food and drink.






     Paul Bigelow always acts as the official counter for our group and seems to be enjoying his coffee, since there was not at that point much to record.



     Others kept looking and also did not miss the opportunity to mingle and socialize, a very important part of this event.


     It is a measure of the paucity of birds visiting Brenda's well-stocked feeders that the visit of a Black-capped Chickadee (Poecile atricapillus) generated excitement and hoots of joy among this corps of expert birders!


     As we left to move on to our next destination, Miriam turned to get a shot of Brenda's house.


     Fraser and Nancy Gibson were the next to host our group; their house being mere minutes from Brenda's location.


     Fraser, a very fine naturalist, has an array of feeders of different types, dispensing a range of seed, with suet feeders also, and there was lots of activity at the Gibson Fat, Protein and Good Taste Café.



     Fraser and Nancy are so fond of bird houses that even their house plants are so equipped.


     I spent a good deal of time fixated on this abode, waiting for the tiny occupants to fly in or out, but if they did they escaped my scrutiny.
     A Dark-eyed Junco (Junco hyemalis) and a Mourning Dove (Zenaida macroura) were content to feed on the ground on seed knocked down by energetic birds at the feeders, who obviously had specialized training in eating only one out of four seeds, strewing the remaining three hither and yon - more hither than yon actually.



     These House Sparrow (Passer domesticus) were the proud holders of the avian equivalent of a gold medal in seed tossing.


     Their friends lined up along the fence and in the conifers just waiting to join them.


     Happy humans sipped, snacked and watched.



     A pair of House Finches (Haemorhous mexicanus) obligingly perched on opposing sides of a feeder.


     I made the facetious remark that males are more handsome than females, and Mary Ann was quick to retort, "Yes, that happens with birds, David!" Touché!
     Black-capped Chickadees in characteristic fashion visited a feeder, grasped a seed, and left.


     And what would a day at the bird feeders be without a squirrel waiting his turn to filch a little snack?


     Soon it was time to move on to Sprucehaven, our final destination, where Dave Westfall, Sandy Hill and Jamie Hill would be our kind and generous hosts. This is a view looking out from the family room window towards the barn where we do our Barn Swallow (Hirundo rustica) research.


      Everyone was happy to mingle, chat, eat, drink, eat some more and watch birds.



     A wonderful feast was laid on for us, a veritable smorgasbord of so many good things, it begged for a return visit to the table. 
     There are many feeders at SpruceHaven and the birding was commensurately good. Here are shots of some of the species seen.

Dark-eyed Junco
Blue Jay (Cyanocitta cristata)
Hairy Woodpecker (Dryobates villosus)

American Tree Sparrow (Spizelloides arborea)
Downy Woodpecker (Dryobates pubescens)


     
     All too soon it was time to head for home, and one by one, we started to leave.
     It had been a terrific day characterized by good fellowship, great food, every bird was a joy to see, nothing could have been better.
     A huge vote of appreciation is due to Mary Ann for organizing the event as she does year after year, and to Brenda, Fraser and Nancy, and Dave, Sandy and Jamie for hosting. 
     I am already looking forward to next year!

Final tally: Mourning Dove (3), Downy Woodpecker (2), Hairy Woodpecker (1), American Crow (1), Blue Jay (1), Black-capped Chickadee (11), Red-breasted Nuthatch (1), White-breasted Nuthatch (1), House Sparrow (36), House Finch (5), American Goldfinch (9), American Tree Sparrow (2), Dark-eyed Junco (10), Northern Cardinal (5).  Total: 88 individuals of 14 species.


90 comments:

  1. Oh my, I am jealous of these events, what a fantastic idea. Bird watching and recording is great fun, but getting together socially and being filled up with good food, snacks and gallons of coffee seems to be really heavenly! Love all the photos. Your blue jay is so different to ours, and we don't have dark-eyed juncos, sigh. But we do have lots of Canadian Geese! Fantastic photo of the sparrows lined up on the fence! Glad you all had such a wonderful day together. Off to make myself a cup of coffee and a snack, you have inspired me....All the best, Valerie

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  2. Hello David,
    Many people do birdcounting here as well, so I guess this is happening in many countries around the world?
    The Blue Hay and The Dark-eyed Junco are my favorites. It looks like you are having a lot of snow in your area?

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  3. Mais c'est génial comme façon de faire! Très bonne idée, comme ça on peut discuter et manger pendant les moment où il n'y a pas d'oiseaux.
    Ils étaient nombreux, surtout aux deux dernières maisons.
    A la fin de la journée tout le monde avait bien mangé, les oiseaux mais les observateurs aussi!
    Bonne soirée

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  4. En underbar dag med goda vänner David där ni samtliga har en viktig sak gemensamt - kärleken till fåglar. Och så blev ni bjudna på ett svenskt smörgåsbord som alltid uppskattas, inte bara här i Sverige.

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    1. But one day I would like to enjoy it in Sweden, Gunilla, ideally with you and Greta Thunberg as my companions!

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  5. It is fantastic that you can hold these meetings at each other's house to observe the feeders and also to enjoy the company and good food to taste.
    Many hugs!

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  6. What a brilliant variation on the great Backyard Bird Count. A brilliant and filling variation.
    You know that if I lived close enough I would sign up in a heart beat.

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  7. Hay en ese salón, un buen observatorio donde observar las aves. el frío y la nieve, hace que la comida sea escasa y en esos comederos pueden satisfacer su apetito.

    Besos

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  8. That sounds like a great occasion was enjoyed by all, and what a remarkable women Brenda appears to be - a perfect example to all as we get older.
    Like others have remarked, I too admire the Dark-eyed Junco with its unusual delicate pale pink beak.

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  9. What a wonderful tradition. As for me, I always just count the birds in my own backyard. How boring by comparison. But then birds are never boring.

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  10. It looks and reads like a fantastic day! A lot of nice (and beautiful female) birders, great food, it looks really good and I wish I couls have joined you there ;-). Very nice species to count in several backyards. It's a great idea to count this way and I can understand that you want to do this every year.
    The photo's that Miriam took are great and I espescially like the Woodpecker and the Housefinches. But all the birds are nice to see just because they're BIRDS!

    Big hugs for you both,
    Marianne

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  11. As Sue says, so would I sign up. Sounds like a fun way of birding (twitching?). I do so miss being able to see birds at our apartment building. Loved your bird pictures, really delightful.

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  12. What a wonderful day, snow, food, friends and birds, both feathered and unfeathered varieties.
    Captivating images Miriam. ❤️

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  13. I believe scientists and citizens who are bird entusiasts, gain a lot from the data collected on this February project of Backyard Bird Count. The more data, the easier to track patterns, locations, changes.

    Great photos of the birds, feeders, birders, hosts, food!

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    1. You are absolutely correct, Duta. All of the information gathered across the continent is consolidated and comparisons are made year over year and it is one part of the puzzle in trying to understand changing (mostly declining) bird populations and their distribution and seasonal occurrence in the face of climate change. It is far more than the twitching Jo hints at above,

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    2. I do hope you realise I was joking David. I have been fascinated with birds for many years but have never had the opportunity to study them very much other thanin my own back yard in North Carolina.

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  14. Humans busy feeding watching birds busy feeding - sounds like a great day to me :)

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  15. How fun! I think it's a fab idea, and Kudos to Brenda for continuing the tradition on her own...she seems a fine lady. Im happy to see the Tree Sparrow, long time no see one.

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    1. When they coined the term "salt of the earth" it was for people like Brenda.

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  16. This sounds like a super activity. I'll keep it in mind for next year. The only thing I have is coffee and cake for a year end celebration close to Christmas.

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  17. Thank you for this write up David - it was a fantastic day!

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  18. Perfect day! A great turn out both humans and birds.

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  19. Sadly, there was a paucity of birds this year, it seems. I hope you will publish your unofficial count.

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  20. Sounds like luxurious birding! Love the sparrows on the fence.

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  21. What an awesome social occasion you have turned this into.

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  22. A great time to observe and enjoy birds' behavior!

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  23. What a wonderful birding group you have! It was a joy to read your post & see the photos.

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  24. No se puede pedir más amigo David, buena compañía, grata amistad y vecindad acompañada de algunos placeres que nos ofrece la vida y una buena sesión fotográfica de cuantas aves visitan tan bellos comederos. Un día más inolvidable a la espera del próximo acontecimiento.
    Un fuerte abrazo querido amigo y compadre David.

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  25. A wonderful day with good friends, David! I'm sure Brenda is a very special lady! You all have one important thing in common: the love for birds. Beautiful!
    Great photos of the birds! Miriam is great with the camera!

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  26. Hola David.

    Una bonita idea: juntarse para disfrutar de una afición que se tiene en común y además al abrigo y con buenos nutrientes (no sólo para las aves, jajajaa).

    Un abrazo desde Galicia,

    Rafa.

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  27. A good time was had by all it seems, how spoilt you all are with such lovely food.
    Nice photos of the birds.
    Noticed the paths did't have snow on them - so who cleaned all that?

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  28. Hello, this is a great idea and nice to be able to bird watch from a warm home. The treats a plus too..Great collection of birds and happy birders. Enjoy your day, wishing you a happy new week ahead!

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  29. This is definitely a great tradition to have, birding and good friends! The photos are lovely, I especially like the Blue Jay :)

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  30. Hello David, Goodies outside and goodies inside. Great birds that come to the feeders and the birdwatchers enjoy the food on the table. What better way than to enjoy with friends all good things in life.
    Regards,
    Roos

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  31. Brenda is a marvel, indeed! I can see that people and birds were gathering around some very tempting and beautifully displayed food. Whether invited into homes or backyards all us creatures really are so alike.

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  32. What a wonderful way to do an annual garden bird count, David. You might be aware that we have a similar event here, organised by the RSPB, where people are encouraged to send in reports of birds that visit in the course of one hour (any hour) in a given weekend. To the best of my knowledge, sadly, this is not usually a social event like yours. Such a pity! I can see a downside to yours, however, in that it will probably take you until the same time next year to work those extra inches off your waistline!

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    1. If you organize such an event at your end, Richard, I am sure that lunch will be finished off with ice cream!

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  33. What fun! I just hang around the windows at home and bemoan the fact that none of our “best birds” show up on the designated days. We did have another female oriole yesterday, after not seeing one for almost three weeks and thinking they had all moved on north a bit.

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  34. Our bird count was at the end of January. I sat glued to the window for the hour we were supposed to do. I find counting the sparrows so difficult, we have so many and they come and go all the time in large numbers!! Have a good week, Diane

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  35. I am very in awe of your skill and patience with photography.... all of it, but especially the birds and other wildlife. I see in my mind’s eye what I want the image to “be” but do not possess the skills you do to have it reach fruition! It is an artistry I hope to figure out how to become stronger in.

    Thank you for posting your images.... they inspire me to try harder.

    PipeTobacco

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  36. Birding as it should be - with good company and good snacks. (And in Australia you also get good snakes!)

    Cheers - Stewart M - Melbourne

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    1. I am sure that the Australian Tourist Board is glad to have you point that out!

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  37. There are happy and pleasant people on your pictures David. I like this pastime together bird watching and eating tasty food and coffee. I like the photo of Blue Jay and of Chickadee. Jays and chickadees are often on my bird feeder.
    Hugs!

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  38. First, I have to say that I appreciate the opportunity to subscribe by email. Your posts are arriving in my email now, and I'm thrilled. I do a much better job of keeping up with things when I can look in my inbox and see that new posts have been offered.

    I remember this event from last year, and it seems just as appealing now as it did then. The big difference is that I can enjoy this sort of birding from my desk, now. I don't have so many feeders, but the numbers and variety of birds are increasing; I also have doves, house sparrows, house finches, the occasional bluejay, chickadees, mockingbirds, and of course squirrels. It's great fun to have them only a few feet away as I work, and now that it's sometimes warm enough to open a window or door, it's fun to listen to them chirping and singing, too.

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  39. You guys have more fun than anyone! This is totally fabulous -- being together in community while doing something you all love and sharing such delicious looking snacks in a lovely environment! Well done!

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    1. I think that Cork Poppers might provide some serious competition, Jeanie.

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  40. This is the most fantastic idea. Thank you :-)
    Unfortunately I live in the city and there are not so many birds, but the idea... wow. I will bear it in mind.
    Lisbeth

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  41. Hi David - congratulations to Miriam on her photos ... while glad to see you do the Bird Count too ... ours was recent. Must make for a lovely day socialising with friends, fellow birders and little pluffed up birds keeping out the cold in the gardens.

    I wanted to ask ... via a blogging friend in England - she wondered what the birds do when the storms are blowing through? I'll copy on to her ... how they cope etc etc ... cheers Hilary

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    1. Thanks for answering me ... I've passed the info on ... cheers Hilary

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  42. Hola David. Los humamos siempre nos sentimos felices en estas buenas reuniones de amigos, y si es para hacer lo que nos gusta mejor. Felicidades a Brenda, es una mujer a imitar, se ve estupenda.
    Las fotos de Mriam son fantásticas.
    Deseo que sigais con vuestras reuniones y compartiendo naturaleza.
    Un abrazo.

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  43. Ptaki wszystkie policzone! Gratuluję! Zawsze to pretekst do miłego spotkania.

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  44. Hi David and Miriam,
    I remember your previous bird counts, what a delightful birding group you have,you all get on so well together and have such enthusiasm , mind with the bird count the available delights of the food tables must help especially with the weather outside .
    Some excellent images Miria.
    All the best,
    John

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  45. This is the type of get together I enjoy. The bird pics are lovely!

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  46. Hi David,
    This looks like the perfect combination of watching and counting birds and renewing social contacts. I can imagine all of you had a good time. The day after I guess all of you had to go for a walk to loose a bit of the extra weight, caused by the day before. And not to forget the birds, obviously you have seen a nice number of birds.
    Greetings, Kees

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  47. Jeg kikket på innlegget ditt fra jobbeb min og det var så gøy å lese!Så kjekt dere har det!

    Vi skulle alle gjort mer av dette
    Nydelige fuglebilder også!

    Hilsen anita

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  48. What a great idea. I would love to be involved in a group like this. I came over from I'm retired - Adventures. I'll be following to look at some more beautiful bird pictures.

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  49. Another day of luxury bird-watching with great people and taking photos of beautiful birds.
    Thank you for sharing!

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  50. Yo estaría feliz con todos ustedes, parece una idea genial, y se os ve muy bien. Me preguntaste donde ver pájaros en Valencia, hay bastantes por allí, pero sobre todo en la Albufera ( mira información ) Un abrazo.

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  51. Looks like a great day out - and some birds as well.

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  52. So many beautiful birds and what a great day with friends.
    Your friend Brenda looks fabulous for 91 and so wonderful that she's still involved in these events.

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  53. Looks like a wonderful day! Love the beautiful photos of the birds.

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  54. Beautiful day out, the home of Brenda putting on great food. I love the Licorice all sorts, YUMMY. The birds are wonderful, especially the Downy Woodpecker.

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  55. Hi Beautiful, som many beautiful photos of the birds and the squirrel. Your friend Brenda has al beautiful house. I like it. The blue Jay is also very beautiful in the snow. Have a nice weekend. Greetings Caroline

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  56. David - as I type this, I am doing my own unofficial backyard bird count. Downy Woodpecker (1), Hairy Woodpecker (1), Black-capped Chickadee (5), Mountain Chickadee (8), Red-breasted Nuthatch (3) and White-breasted Nuthatch (2). I have coffee, but somehow the sumptuous spreads you experienced are nowhere in sight. Sigh. Enjoy the rest of your week!

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  57. Hi David,
    Very succesful way to count birds, and cosy ;-)
    Regards, Maria

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  58. I am thrilled with the bird photos! Yes, the house sparrows always come in droves and make a lot of noise. I have the 'Blue Jay' in my heart! I also enjoyed this bird count as a silent guest in the background and I take my hat off to Ms. Brenda!

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  59. What a fun time!

    I'm so glad you are a part of 'My Corner of the World' this week!

    My Corner of the World

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  60. Hi David,
    I can imagine you like to participate in these bird counting sessions. It certainly looks like a very nice social event. Lovely reportage Miriam and you made, it was a joy to read your story and look at Miriams images.

    Best regards, Corrie

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  61. I thought you'd enjoy this way of watching birds, too -- the visual returns last week of migrating birds picked up by Key West radar.

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  62. Hello, this sounds like a fun time with your birding friends. It is interesting to see which birds are at each home. Great bird photos and the snacks are a bonus! Thank you for linking up and sharing your post. Happy Saturday, enjoy your weekend. PS, Thanks also for the comment and visit.

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  63. What a beautiful bird life and a lot of snow! A great time together!!
    Greetings Elke

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  64. What a wonderful tradition David! It is truly special to have so many friends with the same interest. Being part of such a group must bring much comfort of Brenda. I hope to still be living in my own home at 91. Amazing! We have many mourning doves hanging in our yard throughout the year. They make me laugh with their laziness. They seem to be able to sit in one spot for hours. We just had one of those woodpeckers (not sure which one) at our feeder the other day for the first time. Such beauties with their markings.

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    1. They are silently contemplating the meaning of life, Val, and laughing at humans always frantic with activity!

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  65. Hello. Wonderful bird counting session! You eat and watching birds and the birds eat and watching you :)
    Great photos!

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  66. hello David
    that's a nice round, great food, talking shop and making new contacts ..... including birds and watching what should be nicer ......
    Regards Frank

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  67. Now this is what I call a fantastic idea!
    Loved reading about it all and seeing all of the wonderful photographs.

    All the best Jan

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  68. You really do it right! Fun AND fellowship....oh and food! Lots of sweet little birds too. I like seeing those lined up on the fence and the little Downy Woodpecker is one we get excited about when it visits us. We have a lot of Goldfinches this week....it's time! Thanks for sharing your event!

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  69. Checking out this blog post 'cause it has birds associated with birding instead of your newest, the book report...my favorite is the blue Jay in the snow.

    Thanks so much for sharing your link at I'd Rather B Birdin this week.

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  70. wow, that was quite a party. Guess you had lots of fun apart from counting birds.
    We have a similar thing in Sweden. But as I only have a balcony there are nothing for me to count :(

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  71. Strenuous indeed!

    The mourning dove is particularly welcome to see.

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  72. Great thing to do a bird counting party! Gorgeous photos!

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  73. Nice meeting with friends.
    Beautiful birds and great photos.
    Hugs and greetings.

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