The Great Backyard Bird Count, 2019

The Great Backyard Bird Count was held February 15-18th, and as usual Judy and I were happy to participate. All you have to do is choose a spot and spend a few minutes or a couple of hours counting birds.

Northern Cardinal at table feeder, with beak full of safflower.

This citizen science project provides a snapshot of avian populations, with over 193,000 bird checklists submitted from around the world.  The effort is sponsored by the Cornell Lab of Ornithology, the Audubon Society, and Bird Studies Canada.

When you look at Northern Cardinals head on their eyes can be oddly obscured.

Judy and I like to do our bird counting from the comfort of our back porch. Our count was reflective of what we’ve been seeing over the winter: for starters, lots of Northern Cardinals and Goldfinches.


Northern Cardinals are one of my favorite birds, and fortunately they stick around through the whole year.


Goldfinches at nyjer seed feeder.

Goldfinches have also been plentiful. I’ve counted up to 20 at a time. As I’ve mentioned in an earlier post, a flock of Goldfinches is called a “charm”, which seems very apt. Seems like it won’t be long before they put on their bright summer plumage.

There have also been quite a few Juncos and an occasional House Finch.


Woodpeckers have also been a fairly constant presence. The most dramatic has been the Red-Bellied Woodpecker, who show up at the feeders to eat suet and peanuts.

Red Bellied Woodpecker flies off with its prize.

Sadly, we haven’t seen any Northern Flickers in a long time.

Downy Woodpecker

As usual, the little Downies are the most common of the Woodpeckers. They are a fairly constant presence.



We also get occasional Bluejay appearances. They are close relatives of crows, but their coloring makes them appear much friendlier.

Mourning Dove at the Winter Birdbath

This year I think there are far fewer Mourning Doves than there used to be.



In late winter the Starlings start showing up at the feeders. I’ve been told that up until now they are hoovering every kind of fruit that they can find. When the fruit is gone, they start hitting the bird seed and peanuts.

I think of Starlings as the Hell’s Angels of the backyard bird world because they travel in gangs and look like they are wearing black leather jackets.

So that was our bird count for 2019. Have you noticed any changes in how many/what kind of birds you’ve been seeing in the garden this winter?

32 Comments on “The Great Backyard Bird Count, 2019”

  1. It sounds your bird count Jason is successful – so many birds have been fed and counted. Here starlings seems never fly away to south – they are always near shopping center eating seeds and bread. It’s very unusual. I love goldfinches, especially males with their red caps.

  2. All your birds in one post…..very interesting! I’ve always liked the Northern Cardinal, the colour and also the cute tuff of feathers on its head. I like “a charm” of Goldfinches, I find many little birds charming, perhaps because we are surrounded by so many big ones, here in Canberra. I did not know the Bluejays were relatives of the crow, they look so very different. ….and yes, we have a few bird Hell’s Angels asserting themselves here in Australia!

  3. Yes, I do notice that there are fewer House Sparrows this year. I am grateful for that. Last summer we didn’t feed the birds because the house sparrows were becoming too many. It seemed to work. They must have gone on to greener pastures so to speak. We only had about 60 house sparrows this winter. My favorite bird this winter was Red-breasted Nuthatch. There were two here all winter. They are still here. I imagine once it warms up they will be off to the North again. The past couple of days the blackbirds have returned. Common Grackles and Red-wing Blackbirds are fussing with the Starling around the feeders. I think there might be fewer Cardnials at the feeders this year. I don’t know if they were discouraged by no feed during summer or if there was a different reason there aren’t as many.

  4. I participated too, and also do the weekly Feederwatch. We have some of the same birds; well, not the exact same birds, just the same species. 🙂 I had some work done on my back patio and roof in the past week, I think some of my birds have been scared off! Nice post!

  5. I moved the feeders from the back to the front yard, and unfortunately viewing avian activity is more difficult. However, I have seen most of what you have, as well as chickadees and nuthatches. No mourning doves, though, or starlings… yet. Your (or Judy’s) pix are great!

  6. I’ve been so happy to hear all of the bird songs and calls back home now in North Carolina — it’s practically spring so the cardinals, chickadees, and wrens are doing their thing. It was quiet in Quebec, aside from the chickadees and downy woodpeckers.

  7. Your garden birds are so colourful, especially the wonderful cardinal. Nothing quite that here in the UK. We recently put up a bird-feeding station outside our kitchen window and it’s giving us so much pleasure to watch the birds. Even the teenagers are hooked 🙂

  8. I think a pair of bluejays has babies already. They’re flying back and forth to my balcony, carrying off peanuts in the shell — the only thing I can put out that doesn’t attract dozens of pigeons. I heard mourning dove coos this morning, and stepped out to discover a little courtship going on. They’ll have babies soon, too.

    Otherwise, here’s what else I saw just now: pelicans, cormorants, gulls, common terns, and an osprey. It’s a different world, for sure.

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