Letter to the Editor

Great Backyard Bird Count a success

Wednesday, March 16, 2011

Thank you to 13 people in Spirit Lake who submitted their Great Backyard Bird counts online during February 18-21!

This was the 14th annual GBBC and the best participation in Dickinson County to date with only one last year and six in 2007.

In addition, four checklists were submitted from Spencer, one from Ocheyedan and 12 from Jackson, Minn. Let's aim for even more participation next February, but we will have a ways to go to get ahead of the town with the most checklists in Iowa. That was Adel with 86. We could certainly beat them though as there are many birders around here.

Statistics nationally for 2011 include a total of 91,915 checklists with 596 total species observed and a total of 11,452,925 birds counted.

A total of 27 species were counted in Spirit Lake. The most astonishing were the 138 cedar waxwings. At the time of the count, they were located near 27th Street. One of our customers at Bird haven counted 91 on one morning of the count. The waxwings were resting in large cottonwood trees and "posed" so they could be counted.

Waxwings love fruit and were feasting on the nearby crab apples. They might be still be seen along Hill Avenue where there are Prairie Fire crab apples with persistent fruit. Also, the courtyard at the Catholic Church is a favorite spot where there are crab apples plus European mountain ash trees. Typically, the flock moves together from one feast to another.

There were also seven checklists with a total of 24 cardinals counted. That is quite a few more than were counted here just a few years ago. I do know there are more, however. With spring coming those guys will be looking for a mate and last year's young ones will need their own territory.

Cardinals have nested within a block of me. They are so close. My yard doesn't have evergreens, but my neighbor does. So, I wish they would nest there and eat their fill at my squirrel proof platform feeder!

Carole Lochmiller

Great Bird Count coordinator

Dickinson County