The welcome rains didn’t stop the birds from coming out to be counted for the annual Great Backyard Bird Count at Blanco State Park this past Saturday.
The day’s activities included multiple timed counts at the Wildlife Viewing Station and a walking count conducted so various waterbirds and species that do not frequent the bird feeders could be spotted and counted. There were educational materials on hand to help kids and adults alike discover the joy and ease of birdwatching.
Although it rained or drizzled throughout much of the day, this did not dampen the spirit or enthusiasm of the volunteers who helped conduct the counts. And, the weather did not keep the birds away either – in fact, they seemed to be enjoying Mother Nature’s showers and frequented the feeders at the wildlife viewing station.
Several of the volunteers on hand were avid birders from the Blanco County Master Naturalist Organization (members of the Highland Lakes Chapter) and, along with Mary Alice Partain, Park Interpretive Ranger, helped to make the event a success.
The tally results were quite impressive. 26 individual species of birds were identified in the park. During one of the counts there were 17 species observed. The predominant species this year was the American Goldfinch, with over 45 counted at one time. Fun and rather unusual sightings included a pair of Spotted Towhees, a White-throated Sparrow, and Redheads (a duck that is not often seen at the park). All of the survey information for the park has already been entered online at www.birdcount.org.
This is the fourth year that Blanco State Park has participated in the Great Backyard Bird Count. This nationwide event helps ornithologists at the Cornell Institute of Ornithology answer many questions such as how do winter temperatures and precipitation influence the movement of birds, how will the timing of birds’ migrations compare to past years, how are bird diseases, such as West Nile virus, affecting birds in different regions and are any species of birds being seen outside of their “normal” ranges.
If you missed the Great Backyard Bird Count this year – plan ahead - put a reminder on your calendar for next February – and we will see you same time, same place next year.