The Great Backyard Bird Count is a community science project that counts birds in order to provide data to scientists about how bird populations are doing. Supported by the Cornell Lab of Ornithology and the National Audubon Society, it's a great activity to do during the pandemic. Whether you're a beginning bird watcher or an expert, find out how you can participate, or check out real-time data and maps for your area.
Here are four featured birds from The Wild Wonders of Alabama.
Nicknamed the "yellowhammer" for its yellow underwings, the state bird of Alabama is unlike other woodpeckers in that it has a weak beak. It makes up for it though with a long, barbed tongue used to scoop up large amounts of ants!
This elusive bird prefers open-spaced pine woodlands with some shrubby vegetation or grass that it can build its dome-shaped nests in. Their preferred habitat is fire-dependent in order to rid out dense undergrowth, but fire is being suppressed due to increased human development. According to the Cornell Lab of Ornithology, the sparrow's population has declined by 76% and it is becoming ever rarer to see this bird.
Our national emblem since 1782, this regal bird can be found soaring high above with its pointed beak and sharp yellow talons. Somewhat solitary, it can nevertheless be found wintering in large groups near coasts, lakes, bays, or other bodies of water where it opportunistically feeds on fish, waterfowl, small mammals, and carrion. In Alabama, though found state-wide, concentrations do occur on Pickwick Lake and Guntersville Lake.
With its latin name meaning "cleansing breeze," this soaring scavenger of the skies rides the thermals in its signature "V" shape using its keen sense of smell to locate carrion, often up to a mile away. They play an important ecological role by cleaning up our landscapes and keeping wildlife diseases in check.
What birds have you observed in your area?