The month of September is a great month to go birding. Many songbirds, shorebirds, and raptors are migrating. Even early waterfowl migrants can be found at times.
Our family does not normally have any special field trips or bird counts this month, but when the editors of Nature Friend magazine challenged their readers with a week-long bird count or contest, we couldn’t resist.
Our count started September 1, 2020, on our early morning walk across the golf course next door. Well before daylight, a Killdeer took flight, calling its signature calls—we had our first bird.
As the eastern sky brightened, a Northern Cardinal sounded off, followed by a Song Sparrow. Our backyard feeders were very active this morning with our usual visitors: Black-capped Chickadees; Northern Flickers; Brown Thrashers; Mourning Doves; Hairy, Downy, Red-bellied, and Red-headed Woodpeckers; Blue Jays; House Finches; Tufted Titmice, White-breasted Nuthatches; and others. We spotted Tree and Barn Swallows, plus a high-flying Purple Martin, all headed south.
Deeper in the wooded areas we found a Scarlet Tanager, Great-crested Flycatcher, Rose-breasted Grosbeak, and several vireos. The early-migrating warblers were all gone, but we still tallied over a dozen different warblers this week, including a few hard-to-find species. Most of the expected raptors were seen, including Peregrine Falcon and Merlin.
An unexpected bird was a chattering Marsh Wren in some cattails.
Yes, these birds were not singing, nor did they have their brilliant spring plumages, but our family thoroughly enjoyed this challenging bird count. Thank you, Nature Friend.
Yesterday I asked Aden if he or his family had a suggestion for a birding-related contest we might do with Nature Friend this fall. Today he called me back with their suggestion. While they did not have all the details worked out, the idea worked. I liked it, so here you go—Nature Friend’s Birding w/ Friends Contest.
Our goals for this contest are several:
- Have an enjoyable time with friends.
- Designate a circle that is large enough you can have a picnic, reach under a roof in case it rains, and even include a place to tent if you wish. After all, spending the night outdoors might enable you to pick up some owl calls for your list. Maybe you want your circle to reach inside your picture window so you can add species you see while inside your home. That is fine too.
- Be flexible enough that your circle can be at home, at a friend’s place, or anywhere else you choose it to be. Maybe you want to combine this with a camping trip to a fun location. If so, enjoy!
And the fun doesn’t stop there. We are planning for some awards. Aden Troyer’s family operates the Lost Creek Shoe Shop in Mifflintown, Pennsylvania. They also carry optics and other things birders enjoy. Aden says he will sponsor some gifts—A Crossley Eastern Bird ID Guide, a binocular harness, and a Zeiss lens cleaning kit.
And, your friends here at Nature Friend will also give some awards. Just what they will be and how many are going to be a surprise. Tell your friends, and let’s get started.
- Who may participate: Families with an active subscription to Nature Friend. Multiple subscriber families may join into one group, if several families wish to do the activity together.
- When: Choose one 24-hour day between September 1 and November 30, 2021.
- Where: Choose a spot, and mark off an area within 100 feet in all directions. This will make a 200-foot circle.
- Count the species of birds which members of your group see or hear while within this circle. Birds can be outside circle.
- Send your story to Nature Friend. Label with the names of those who participated, your subscriber number (found on the magazine mailing label), and your complete mailing address. A phone number is invited.
Birding w/Friends Contest
4253 Woodcock Lane
Dayton VA 22821