Sunday, December 14, 2008

My Feederwatch area

For those of you who come here mostly for the birds, I figure I better get a bird post up! Today you'll get an idea of what my bird watching area looks like. I happen to think it's a little unique.

A few weeks ago I shared some photos of the view of our feeders from inside the house.

Pretty standard "stand at the patio door/kitchen window and watch the birds" fare, right?

Well, our house is basically up on stilts, so looking straight out from the door/window does not give the fullest picture of what can possibly be seen, birdwise or otherwise.

When recording data for Project Feederwatch, one has to record information about the amount of effort made in counting. This is measured in time (Did you watch in the morning and/or the afternoon? How many hours, approximately, did you spend watching?); but I also have a personal "effort measuring tool" regarding how much I extended myself beyond just looking out the window. I don't have any units by which to record this measurement, other than the fact that I usually get higher counts on ground-feeding birds since I can't see the ground very well from the door/window.

I can get a better perspective by going upstairs to the second floor. From there I can get a much better view of our brush piles, where the sparrows and juncos love to hang out. The doves also like to roost down there for afternoon naps.

As you can see, we live among the trees, so the ground is covered with leaves and twigs and such, which makes it doubly difficult to see birds when there's no snow on the ground. Motion is the key to finding a Song Sparrow or White Throated Sparrow bopping around down in the brush.

This is also from upstairs.

Here's an alternate view of basically the same spot, only from the downstairs bathroom. The juncos really like to twitter about in this whole area, but especially under the thistle feeder.

This is another view from the downstairs bath, which can sometimes be a good spot for me to watch the skittish little Goldfinches without startling them.

When the weather is nice enough, or when I'm feeling up to braving the cold, I will extend my effort further and go outside on the deck and sit and watch for ground feeders. There's a landing just off to the left of this picture, and that's a great place for me to sit mostly unnoticed by the birds (unless the dogs rat me out, which they've been known to do).

In fact, I just came back inside from doing that exact thing, and counted 3 White Throated Sparrows that I otherwise never would have seen.

What kind of challenges do you face in your backyard birdwatching?


Shellmo said...

You have a nice birdy set up! And you have a lovely wooded setting for your home! I prefer the birdwatching up at our log cabin - it's quieter, we have no neighbors, the lake is a big attractant and I seem to see "better" birds. Downstate - they seem a little more skittish - especially when the neighbor lets the dogs out, etc. (I'm in a more suburban setting downstate.)

RuthieJ said...

Wow Heather, that's a long ways down to the ground from your upstairs! That is definitely a challenging set-up to see the ground feeding birds. But I bet you love that deck when the weather is nice, don't you?
Since my backyard used to be a pasture, there's lots more open space to put the feeders farther out to see from the upstairs windows. Some of my trees have grown up enough that a few feeders are now obscured by leaves in the summertime. I guess my only real challenge is that I have feeders on 3 sides of the house and I can't see all of them at the same time!

Heather said...

Shelly - Thanks, I like our bird set-up too. I do wonder how different it would be to watch/count birds in a more suburban or urban setting, but I am very thankful for our rural location. Interestingly, our 2 dogs are outside all the time, and the birds don't really seem bothered by them at all.

Ruthie - Yes, the deck is awesome when the weather is nice. We have 1 feeder that we keep on the opposite side of the house from all the others, and it doesn't seem like it gets as much action as it used to. Also, our birdbath in the summer is at a third location, so it can be hard to watch everyone at once.