My 2015 Great Backyard Bird Count Results


Posted by justtracy | Posted in Birding, General Interest, Wildlife | Posted on 16-02-2015

Every year I look forward to a fun winter activity in February, the Great Backyard Bird Count. I enjoy watching my backyard birds everyday but it’s interesting to see how much more you observe during the count.

This year I discovered more than goldfinches on my Nyjer seed feeder. I noticed a different bird with hints of yellow on its wings but a heavily streaked body…the Pine Siskin. In fact, this turned out to be the 6th highest species in my count this year.

On the last day of the count I also had another new sighting…a female Yellow Bellied Sapsucker.

I did not see Starlings or a Red Wing Blackbird this year, which tells me we are still a ways off from spring.

My top 5 bird counts were

American Golfinch at 25 birds

Dark-eyed Junco at 10

White-throated Sparrow at 10

Blue Jay at 8

Northern Cardinal at 8


My entire list of birds observed is below.

Explore all the 2015 results at


Screen Shot 2015-02-16 at 11.26.44 PM

Great Backyard Bird Count Results for Cloudy Way


Posted by justtracy | Posted in Birding | Posted on 01-03-2014

Bluebirds on suet nugget feeder.

Bluebirds on suet nugget feeder. Photo by Bill Blevins

The 2014 Great Backyard Bird was February 14-17.  This was my 4th year participating. I always look forward to this fun winter time activity.

I finally got around to updating my own list of birds that I counted this year in my backyard with a total of 21 guest of honor species and a total of 118 birds.

2014 Great Backyard Bird Count
Cloudy Way Results

The Top Five Species:
Common Grackle 30
American Goldfinch 24
Dark-eyed Junco 20
Eastern Bluebird 6
Northern Cardinal 5

The Grackles bombed my bird count on day two but only made a brief stay.  The Bluebird activity this year was awesome. For the first time they discovered  my suet nugget feeder and dominated it. I guess a sign of a harsh winter.

Also sighted: What I strongly believe to have been two Cooper’s Hawks. One was setting up in the top of a tree in my yard the morning of the first day of the count. I had a minute or two to study it with binoculars. I have seen red-shouldered hawks, red-tail hawks, and sharp-shinned hawks before and this was a hawk I had not seen before.


You may also be interested in this Pinterest board: Plantsmap/gardens-and-birds/

Explore all the results and maps at And put on your calendar to participate in next years event: February 13-16, 2015.


Other photos (take by Bill Blevins) from our bird count:


Redbellied Woodpecker Nuthatch Grackles Downy


A garden is not a garden without a few feathered friends


Posted by justtracy | Posted in Birding, Gardening, Plants Map, Wildlife | Posted on 15-02-2014

For me, a garden is not a garden without a few feathered friends in the yard.

T_DSC0018he more time I spent in my garden, the more I started watching birds and learning to identify them. A few years ago I heard about the Great Backyard Bird Count and I have been participating ever since. Bird watching is probably my favorite wintertime activity. And yes, I not only make plant lists but I also make bird lists.

When I choose plants for my garden I prefer to include those that are known to provide food or shelter for birds. In a previous home landscape I had two ‘bird’ gardens: one consisting of viburnums and native berry producing shrubs and the other was primarily seed and nectar perennials. In my current backyard landscape, the overstory tree canopy is primarily tulip poplars, sweet gums, and maples.  I have mainly focused on adding a layer of understory native trees and shrubs. So far, I have a list of 27 different species of birds that have visited my yard. At the end of this year’s bird count I will post on my blog ( an update on my bird list.Garden Below are some of the best websites I have found to help create a bird friendly garden and habitat.

National Wildlife Federation: Create a Bird-friendly Habitat
This website includes tips on providing water year round, eliminating the use of insecticides, using proper nesting boxes, and if possible allowing dead tress as an important natural shelter or dwelling plus much more.

Brooklyn Botanic Garden: 12 Ways to Design a Bird-Friendly Garden
This website article offers great design tips including choosing plants that provide year round food sources and creating clumps of trees of the same species together, especially conifers to provide shelter.  They also recommend limiting the size of your lawn because it is not as beneficial to birds as other habitats.

Washington State Dept. of Fish & Wildlife: Landscape Design for Wildlife
This website has a great visual on the different birds species that live at different plant layers in a habitat from ground covers, shrubs, understory trees, to the top overstory canopy.  This is known as vegetation layers and relies on a diversity of plants to attract a broad diversity of birds.

Ohio State University Extension Fact Sheet: Native Landscaping for Birds, Bees, Butterflies, Wildlife
Choosing to incorporate native plans also means that you are providing plants that are necessary to native birds and wildlife. This OSU Extension factsheet provides a great list of Ohio native trees and shrubs. But remember that native is relative, so do a quick search of Cooperative Extensions resources for native trees and shrubs for your state.  You can also reference the North American Native Plant Society database.

Another important note in this fact sheet is to avoid using exotic (or non-native) plants because they can be harmful to native ecosystems. This can have a detrimental effect on both native vegetation as well as native wildlife.  Visit the USDA Introduced, Invasive, & Noxious Plants website for a national list as well as state lists of plants to avoid.

The Cornell Lab of Ornithology: Best Plants and Trees for Birds
This website provides a great short list of the best Trees, Conifers, Vines, and Shrubs for birds. My favorites on this list: Serviceberries (Amelanchier species), Eastern Red Cedar (Juniperus virginiana), and Arrowwood Viburnums (Viburnum dentatum species)

University of Missouri: Sunflower An American Native
Do you want to grow sunflowers for your own birds? This website will tell you everything you want to know about growing a crop of sunflowers. Did you know?  “Of all crops harvested for seed around the world, only one was domesticated in America: the sunflower”

And for even further reading, I also recommend Gardening for the Birds: How to Create a Bird-Friendly Backyard from Timber Press.

These are just a few of my favorite websites and resources for creating landscapes and gardens to attract a diversity of birds. If you know of others, please share and comment.

Happy gardening, planting and bird watching.



My Backyard Bird Statistics


Posted by justtracy | Posted in Birding | Posted on 22-02-2012

This past weekend I participated again in the Great Backyard Bird Count.  A fun winter activity for backyard birding enthusiasts.  Here are my highest totals for each species of birds sighted in my yard this year.  The most interesting observation was 5 Northern Flickers at one time on Saturday morning.  I have never seen that many at once or observed them in my yard for such a long period of time.

Birds of NY  Page





125 Blackbird, Red-winged


8 ½”;  Male is black with red and yellow wing patches; female heavily streaked brown bird

Year round

123, 255 Cardinal, Northern


8-9”;  Male is red; female is buff brown with red tinges on wings and crest

Year round

183 Chickadee, Black-capped


5”;  Black cap and throat, grey wings, white chest

Year round

15 Crow, American


18”;  no throat feathers, square tail

Year round

139 Dove, Mourning


12”;  Smooth fawn colored dove.

Year round

137 Flicker, Northern


12” Black necklace, black mustache, red on nape of neck, black round speckles on breasts/sides

Year round

273 Goldfinch, American


5”;  Yellow bird with black patch on head; black wings & tail; Females and male winter color is olive

Year round

67 Jay, Blue


12”; Bright blue and white bird

Year round

91, 187 Junco, Dark-eyed / Snowbird


5 ½”; Dark bird, white belly


189 Nuthatch, White-breasted


5-6”;  Slate gray wings, black cap with white face and belly,

Year round

209 Robin, American


9-11”;  Black head and wings; rusty breast

Year round

99 Sparrow, House


6”;  Males have black throat

Year round

7 Starling, European


7 ½”;  Shiny black bird, white speckles

Year round

25 Woodpecker, Downy


6”;  White belly, black & white spotted wings, red mark on head

Year round

Get out those binoculars!


Posted by justtracy | Posted in Birding | Posted on 17-02-2012

It’s time for the Great Backyard Bird Count, a joint project of The Cornell Lab of Ornithology, the The National Audubon Society, and Bird Studies Canada.

The count is from February 17-20 and anyone can participate. Just go to the link above for the GBBC website and submit your checklist. It’s fun and a bit more interesting than watching your seeds for signs of life.