Tundra Swans! And the Great Backyard Bird Count

Inspired by Loree Griffin Burns’s new book, CITIZEN SCIENTISTS, my daughter and I decided to take part in the Great Backyard Bird Count this weekend. The simple directions and downloadable regional birds checklist online made it easy to get involved, even though we’re fairly beginning birders.  It was cold today, so we decided we’d watch for 15 minutes at one of our favorite natural spaces, Ausable Point State Park, not far from our house. Here’s where we decided to set up shop with our binoculars and camera…

By the time our fifteen minutes were up, our hands were numb (note to self: bring gloves next time!) and we’d counted 39 birds, including five different species.  That’s a relatively small number, but we went later in the day, and it was quieter than usual.  One of our species, though, was a rare find (and one I’ve been looking for at this spot!).

Those huge, bright white birds are the tundra swans that have been hanging around this marsh for a few weeks now, according to local birding experts. They normally winter far to the south, but because it’s been such a mild winter, and Lake Champlain isn’t frozen, they apparently decided this was a fine place to spend February.  We’re happy about that — and hoping for a closer look on our next trip.

In the mean time, we’ve reported our bird count for today:

29 common mergansers
3 tundra swans
4 Canada geese
1 herring gull
2 mallards

By the way, if you’re interested in the Great Backyard Bird Count, it runs through Monday, 2/21 – and you’ll find the information about how to count and report birds here.

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