A Tale from the Great Backyard Bird Count

Updated: Feb 9, 2020

Pine Grosbeak at a bird feeder.

The Great Backyard Bird Count occurs every year in February. (Note: the dictation function translated that phrase as the gray badger count.) This year the count occurred from February 15 through the 18th, and I want to tell you about my amazing experience with a wonderful group of birders from the little town of Big Horn in Wyoming. On the third Saturday of every month, the Bighorn Audubon Society gets together and holds a “Birding at the Brinton" event at the Brinton Museum. This delightful museum presents 19th, 20th, and 21st century Western and American Indian Art in an amazing space, and the surrounding 620 acres are primo for birds and other wildlife. I could brag on my good friend and current Bighorn Audubon President, Jackie Canterbury, about her work here, but I will save that for another post. Today is about the finches.

The walk around the museum grounds in winter can be tough. It was 12 degrees on this particular walk, and the birds were few and far between. And yet, almost 20 people showed up for this walk, including two birders under the age of 18! Fledgling birders. I’ve participated in this walk several times in winter, once in -26 degree weather, and this group does not postpone this walk for much. I respect the hawk (awful bird joke) out of that. I told you all of that, to help create the image of 20 excited people being cold and slightly disappointed at the birding for the morning. Because the day was about to change.

When the group finishes their walk around the Brinton Museum grounds, some leave to seek warmth, some must begin their weekend responsibilities, and the remainder hides their excitement for the gifts waiting up the road. You see, while I love “Birding at the Brinton,” my real desire is for the after-birding (in winter). It’s almost like an after-party… but better. Better, because of the birds.

I was going to give a brief history of my visits to Vistara’s feeders, but again, finches. All of that can be saved for a post on Jackie, Jenny, Vistara and the Bighorn birding community. The feeders just off of Red Grade Rd attract hordes of finches shaming even Batu Khan. That’s a history joke. We are not solely bird based here at Flocking Around. Our knowledge of famous hordes goes deep, but I digress…

Finches, Zach. Finches.

Close your eyes. Wait, you can’t read and close your eyes. Pretend to close your eyes. Now, imagine a Sharknado. But instead of sharks, it is thousands of birds colored rose, brown, grey, and orange. Now imagine it’s real.

Gray-crowned Rosy-Finches

Okay, I forgot where I was going with this post, and it became way too serious for my taste. So I am going to hit the highlights:

  1. 1,000+ rosy-finches can be seen at Vistara’s feeders.

  2. I’ve seen over 300 Common Redpolls at Jenny’s feeders.

  3. I saw 3 Pine Grosbeaks during the GBBC. They had evaded my lens previously.

  4. All of the Bighorn community is great.

  5. I get distracted too easily.

  6. I’m ready for spring.

This post really got away from me.

#finches #birds #birding


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