Kathie Wiley and Althea Olds of Grand Traverse Audubon Club collaborated with the Grand Traverse Conservation District’s facilitator, Tom Vitale, in a joint Winter Guided Hike /Great Backyard Bird Count endeavor. The exercise included 3 Ebird checklists: the Boardman River Nature Center; a hike at the Nature Education Reserve (Beaver Pond Trail), and Boardman Lake – Logan’s Landing. All told, there were 22 species and a count of 457 birds. Kathie said that one of the best highlights of the day was the delight shown by 3 of the young adults that were at the hike when a bird was seen or heard. In fact, after the hike was completed, one of the young men followed Kathie to her car to get a GT Audubon membership form. The collaboration was a success and it, most likely, was an exercise that will be done again for many years to come.
The Great Backyard Bird Count. The GBBC began in 1998 as a joint effort between the Cornell Lab of Ornithology and the National Audubon Society and is the first and largest citizen science project in the world. Participants' observations help scientists better understand global bird populations before the start of spring migrations, an important and joyful thing to do. The event has grown globally, surging during Covid when people needed company, and includes children, students, people of all places and ages. Last year, about 385,000 people from 192 countries participated. Species declines are strongly noted in the data. How it works: Watch birds by looking out your window or observing in a nature area for 15 minutes, record and forward the data to the eBird apt. Details at firstname.lastname@example.org. The Merlin bird ID app helps distinguish birds by size, shape, song or other characteristics. Here are a few GBBC observations from around Elk Rapids.
Total of 5 species observed 12:40-12:55 p.m.: 14 Mourning Doves; 1 American Crow; 2 Black-capped Chickadee; 2 White-breasted Nuthatch; 5 House Sparrow _Terri Reisig
photos by Terri Reisig
Total of 3 species observed 4:30-4:45 p.m.: 2 Black-Capped Chickadee; 2 Mourning Dove;
1 American Crow _Ken Bloem
1 American Crow _Ken Bloem
Total of 5 species observed 11:15-11:30 a.m.: 20 Black-capped Chickadee; 1 Female Cardinal; 4 Tufted Titmouse; 1 Pileated Woodpecker; 9 Goldfinch _ Gary Stauffer
The Black-capped Chickadee, a songbird commonly seen and heard in Elk Rapids, is one of the most familiar and widespread birds in North America, a non-migratory species found coast to coast, including much of Canada and the northern two thirds of the United States. This species has northern populations that can withstand short days and very cold temperatures during winter. They lower their body temperature at night and enter regulated hypothermia, saving significant amounts of energy. In addition, they store food and have exceptional spatial memory to relocate cached food items. When food is scarce, they move south. Studies of their songs and calls indicate over 16 different vocalizations conveying a wide range of information, including the presence of nearby predators. They are seen locally during winter when visiting backyard birdfeeders, usually in flocks of 3-12 individuals. The Black-capped Chickadee is the state bird of both Maine and Massachusetts. It is twice the size of a hummingbird. A group of chickadees is called a “banditry”, an apt description for their masked faces and trickster behavior. Madisonaudubon.com
The delightful children’s book series beginning with The Chickadee Spirit, by local author Bill O. Smith, illustrated by local artist Charlie Murphy.