Most monthly programs are open to both members and non-members. However, some will have space or venue limitations and will need pre- registration. Indoor programs will typically be held in the Fellowship Hall on the lower level of the Emmaus Baptist Church, 712 Linden Street N, Northfield, Minnesota. Parking is located on the south side of the church.
The goal is to have fun while isolated at home (or wherever you are) and still be able to participate in a group activity. We will be using the official Audubon counting method (it’s easy) and be doing it on the same day as the Christmas Bird Count of the Faribault/Northfield Audubon Circle. It’s very easy and fun – just report how much time you spent watching and how many birds of each species you saw. If you aren’t sure about a bird’s identity, we have several members that can help try to ID it, especially if you get a picture.
Our bird counts can be done while at home watching your own birdfeeders and yards, while at a park or Arboretum, your favorite birding spot, or even from anywhere you are in the world that day. You can do it as an individual or have your family/household members participate too. Participants can spend 1/2 hour, 2 hours, 8 hours, whatever time they wish, but you don’t have to sit glued to the window, it’s a very flexible activity. Some birds (cardinals) are more active at dusk and dawn while others come and go all day.
We will tally the results and see how many individuals and different species we all see in one day then have a Zoom call to share results with each other. Results will also be shared in an email. Results will be shared with everyone, regardless of participation. Forms and instructions will be sent out to all ahead of time. You can always email or call me if you have questions. If you wish to participate but haven’t been feeding birds, you still have plenty of time to attract birds by filling up your feeders now so your feathered guests start finding their food. Doing group bird counts are lots of fun and lets us know what others are seeing that we may be able to attract to our feeders too.
If you don’t have feeders and aren’t sure where would be a good place to go birding, please contact me and I’ll try to suggest some places that may work for you. You may be able to sit right in your car and watch or do a short walk in a park.
One note on purchasing bird food: Some grain elevators are great places to buy food. I’ve been hitting the Lonsdale elevator this year and found their prices on Sunflower, corn and some other products are lower than Menards or Fleet Farm’s right now. Plus, you can call and order/pay by phone then go through their drive up and they will load the bags right into your vehicle. Elevators in Randolph, Nerstrand and Cannon Falls (GF&G elevators) also have good prices on bird food.
The current bird “irruption” makes this a great year to go birding or feed birds and see some less common visitors.
An irruption is a dramatic, irregular migration of a large numbers of birds to areas where they aren’t routinely found. Due to fires, droughts, increase of Spruce gall worms, low pine cone production and other issues of our Canadian and Northern US neighbors, several species of birds have flocked south to find better food sources for the winter. These irruptions happen every few years and give us cool opportunities to see different visitors at our feeders or hanging out in parks or fields.
Some of the more notable birds of this irruption are Pine Siskins and Red-breasted Nuthatches (often show up in winters but here in huge numbers this year) and the beautiful yellow and black Evening Grossbeak (has been seen in Dakota and Goodhue county as well as other counties). Pine Grossbeaks, Red or White Winged Crossbills and other finches are even showing up not too far away from us. And the Redpolls are coming down too. Some Bohemian Waxwings have been seen out of their typical range also. More Owls (like the Snowy) and Hawks may show up too. So far I’ve only had the Siskins and Red-breasted Nuthatches of these less frequent visitors but hopefully some others will show up too. Many of the visitors will appreciate sunflower and/or thistle seeds plus peanuts and fruity mixes.
So, this may be a good winter to see more bird species than usual. And it is easy to get hooked on birding if you aren’t already.
Please stay safe and have a good holiday, and fun bird watching,