Sunday, February 16, 2014

GBBC 2014 - Day 2

American Robin with Dried Fruit in Snow. Watercolor Sketch by Ken Januski.

Though yesterday started off well for the Great Backyard Bird Count with 21 Snow Geese flying over the backyard we never left the house and saw few new birds. Exhaustion from the previous day's walk along with  blustery snow and wind convinced us not to walk anywhere, even around the block, to see what birds were around.

So we just counted birds seen around the yard. We've watched birds, particularly American Robins, feed on the fruit of our trees all winter: crabapple, winterberry, Aronia. But eventually all the fruit was gone. And then we got another month's worth of cold, snowy weather. What would the robins eat?

We feed normal bird food to seed and nut eating birds but we assume robins will feed on the native food. Though there are many robins around I'm not sure what they're eating in Philadelphia. A month or so ago I saw a flock eating from an invasive Amur Cork Tree. The fruit is of very low nutritional value. So at least around our immediate neighborhood there's very little to eat.

I did a little research into  what could be fed to robins in bad weather. The best ideas I came up with were frozen blueberries, cut up apples. and perhaps dried meal worms in the same area, which they might discover while eating the fruit.

We have had one particular robin for at least a month. He chases all other robins off. With the newest batch of snow, ice and cold we decided we needed to try to feed him. Since we still have some lawn furniture outside there is a somewhat snow-free area under it. We've been putting blueberries, apples and mealworms under there for at least a week. And the robin is there constantly.

It seems a little silly feeding this one robin when we saw over 265 a mile away on Friday. But I'm not sure he'd survive without our help so we keep feeding him, and enjoying him.

The watercolor sketch at top, done in a Stillman and Birn Delta sketchbook, shows him feeding on our offerings, beneath those beautiful forest green lawn chairs.

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