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White-crowned Sparrow Photo: Marie Jorgensen

A great big thank-you to all of the volunteer birdwatchers who took part in the Great Backyard Bird Count! Your contributions made 2019 another recordbreaking year for this international event.
It was a pleasure to hear about the birds you encountered in your area during the count period from February 15-18. Not only is the bird count a wonderful way to collect observations and learn more about where different birds species are found around the world, it’s also an occasion to celebrate birds and the joy they bring to our lives.
Here is one delightful example that a participant shared with us. Bird Studies Canada judges selected “My Great Backyard” as the winner of this year’s Great Backyard Bird Count Story Contest, which was open to all bird count participants in Canada and the U.S. Congratulations to Sally Gati of San Francisco! Your prize, a field guide and a Bird Studies Canada membership, is on its way.
My Great Backyard
By Sally Gati, San Francisco, California
Seen from my French door from which I stand guard
Today as I looked out, in my backyard,
So much activity, birds everywhere
Hiding yet chirping, I knew they were there.
Red-breasted robins, flitting about
Also on the wires were their friends, no doubt.
The crows were flying across the sky,
But never come close and rarely stop by.
The sparrows, however, are daily here.
Golden- and White-crowned, all come quite near.
They know that there’ll soon be some food for the taking
It’s almost as if I am their breakfast making.
Small peanut pieces, pumpkin, sunflower seeds
All of them ready to see who succeeds.
First comes “Little Crown” on a branch where he waits.
He is the brave one, like a racehorse at the gates.
No fear like the others, he’ll even look at me,
Take what he wants till others feel free
to make Crown uncomfortable, he flies away
And others come down and sometimes display
their awkwardness, kicking seeds to the ground
Then other smarter sparrows start hanging around
To pick up the food, they’re there not to fight
They all seem to know what for them is right.
I ate my breakfast in the meantime walked away,
Came back to the door and saw today
the bushy tail and those big brown eyes
of the neighborhood squirrel whom I despise.
I yelled, “Get out.  That food’s for the birds!”
He ran up the tree after hearing my words.
Not long after, “Little Crown” and the Fox Sparrow “Fleck”
Two whom I’ve named, came out on the deck.
Then sure enough came our “resident” Scrub Jays.
Our yard is their yard, in sun, rain, and haze.
“Blue” is my favorite.  He takes from my hand
Peanuts, he loves them.  Comes at my command.
He flies to the window and taps on it, too.
“Come here, ‘Blue’, I was looking for you.”
He always tells “Fluffy”, his beautiful mate.
She waits on the branches. Won’t come down. They hate
to eat food together.  “Blue” is quite mean.
When he’s finished eating, he makes a big scene.
He flies off and screams sometimes saying “Jree, Jree.”
And then Fluffy comes down from out of the tree.
These birds have become like family, extended.
We do believe that’s what Nature intended.

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