Outdoor Writers Association of America
Northwest Outdoor Writers Association
This Week's View

by Deanna L. Birkholm

February 15th, 1998

For the Birds

For many years Castwell and I have made feeding the birds part of our schedule. Like most fly anglers, the stream-side companions (birds and beast) have become our friends. We might not be on talking terms with them, but we feel a responsibility to protect them when possible. And to help them out during the cold winter months. But being softies we feed year-round. It's something about having a dependable food source for nesting birds. And especially fun to see whole families here for breakfast!

We don't have a very formal garden, our friend Nils the plantsman, says we have a "managed woods." Add to that a very small fishpond with a little moon bridge, lots of trees, easy-care bulbs, some rhodies, moss-covered paths and you have habitat for birds. Or maybe a visual reminder of the surrounding we so enjoy when fishing. Maybe that explains why we have Forget-Me-Nots, ferns, and Trillium.

We have planted some trees, shrubs and flowers that provide food for the birds during winter, and have bird feeders, suet feeders, and fresh water for them as well. The variety of birds visiting is amazing. Everything from Oregon Juncos to Eastern Bluejays . . .(our local jay is Steller's.) We have lots of woodpeckers, including the one Woody Woodpecker was created after, the red-headed Pileated!

One back corner of our yard is left 'wild' - that is, I haven't gone in and planted a lot, and leave it as natural as possible to encourage wildlife to stick around. The bird books encourage what they call thickets.

Why are we talking about birds on a fly fishing site?

Partially because we are an Internet site, it has come to my attention the National Bird Count is on the Internet for the first time! Cornell Lab sent an information packet on this year's count, and since most of us can't fish (or fish much) it would be an interesting - and valuable thing to do.

The count actually started on this past Friday, but it runs through Feb. 22nd. The rules are simple. You can count as few as 15 minutes or for several hours, for one day or on every day of the count period.

There is an important rule: Report the highest number of each species seen at one time. Then you won't count the same birds more than once.

The BirdSource Web site, created just for the Great Backyard Bird Count, can be viewed here. Take a look and maybe you can help contribute to the information on the health and welfare of our feathered companions.

When logging onto the BirdSource site to report your observations, counters automatically add your information to your state, and a checklist of the most frequently reported birds in your region is generated. Within hours, Cornell Lab will be able to create a 'snapshot' of North American birds.

We know some of the folks at Cornell University are fly anglers as well, we see them on our weekly stats.

Ever notice what goes around comes around? ~ Deanna Birkholm

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