This weekend was the Great Backyard Bird Count. It is run by the Audubon Society and recruits regular backyard birders to count the birds in their backyard and report the results. With this data they can calculate local bird populations and to whether or not they are thriving or in danger.
I submitted my observations yesterday, after several hours of monitoring my backyard and my feeders. I know from personal experience that while my year-round residents are thriving (Cardinals, Chickadees, Tufted Titmouse, Blue Jays, Mocking Birds), the visitors are certainly down in numbers and in some cases non-existent. For instance, during the winter I can generally guarantee to have a large flock of visiting Juncos, all happily hopping about underneath the feeders eating the seeds that the other birds have discarded. So far this year I have not seen a single one. I generally have a large flock of Goldfinch, visiting from the Western part of the State for the winter. This year I have seen no more than six at a time. The same holds true with House Finch and Purple Finch, I have perhaps seen one or two when in previous years I have been inundated with them. I would normally get a small contingent of Brown Headed Nuthatch, who tend to join the Chickadee/Titmouse gang to feed but again this year I have seen none.
Perhaps it is because, as I have said before, we have had no real winter this year, and perhaps the finches thought that the flight to the coast was not worth it considering the temperatures where they were. All in all it was an interesting enterprise to me. I just hope that it does not become a trend.