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Posts Tagged ‘New Mexico Winter’

Door in New Mexico Winter ©SR Euston

Yesterday I was sitting in the living room reading the Sunday comics. Given the toxic nature of public “conversation” these days, the comics have become my only consistent must-read in the daily newspaper. Red and Rover is my favorite. (Check it out at http://comics.com/red&rover/)

I heard a thump at the front of the house. Nothing particularly noteworthy. Lots of things go thump around here: Sassy jumping down from her kitty food bowl perch, a poorly aligned stack of refrigerated leftovers finally giving in to gravity, our dog Clara getting off the sofa.

But a few minutes later it happened again. This time brought me to the front door where a remarkable display was under way in the courtyard’s pyrocantha bushes.

So that’s where the thumps were coming from! There must have been at least 50 robins, darting, eating and fighting over the bright orange-red berries in the bushes and strewn on the ground. Backup diners lined the roof, lurked in the spruce tree and jetted back and forth. Miscued by the reflection of blue and clouds, flying robins were hitting our front windows.

Pyrocantha Berries ©SR Euston

Also working the berries were smaller yellow-sided, crested, cedar waxwings. In the oversized juniper the resident ladderback woodpecker began his tap, tap, tapping, heard but, as usual, not seen.

All at once what had seemed such a bleak and lifeless cold winter’s day was converted to a bustle of avian activity.

Preparing to head south in autumn, robins gather in giant flocks, often mixed with waxwings and other species. The largest flock winters near St. Petersburg, FL. Its estimated size peaked in 2007 at over 700,000 individuals.

Who’s does this surprisingly accurate counting? Participants in the Audubon Society’s annual Christmas Bird Counts (CBCs). Now in its 110th year, from mid-December to early January, events are scheduled around the nation. Group leaders train participants on bird ID and the how-tos of counting. In New Mexico over 30 events are on tap, from Farmington to Eunice, from Peloncillo to Clayton. Compiled statistics and sightings help assess the health of bird populations and support ongoing conservation efforts.

Want to see what CBCs are available in your area? Go to: http://www.audubon.org/Bird/cbc/.

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