I’m not usually one for New Year’s Resolutions but as I reflect on my birding adventures over the last year I realize there were several things I wanted to do but never got around to. Attending the Festival of Cranes and celebrating the return of Sandhill cranes to Bosque del Apache is one terrific example. And I can’t for the life of me remember why I didn’t make that event. So this year I’ve decided to be more intentional in my birding pursuits by proactively planning activities I know will enhance my birding adventure! And I’ve decided to make sure I do one new thing each month. So, with the New Year upon us, here is my list of self-promises for the year:
Maintain and update regularly our range map of the birds in our backyard, tracking the bird species that visit each month and then comparing those visitors to last year’s visitors in the same month.
Keep an eagle eye out for new bird species visiting our backyard and learning as much about them as possible.
Visit a local birding hot-spot over a weekend or day trip and identify birds we don’t usually get in our own backyard.
Attend a birding festival I haven’t been to yet, and more specifically attend the Festival of Cranes!
Encourage new species to visit our feeders by placing out a feeder designed just for them.
Attract new bird species to our backyard by adding a new and different food source; this year I’ll try fresh fruit.
Determine to see a bird I’ve been wanting to see and make the necessary arrangements to do so; the Barn owl is coming to mind at the moment.
Join a local Audubon chapter and get involved in their events and activities.
Plant a bird-friendly hedge, tree, or climbing plant that is native to our region.
Learn to make a DIY food source like home-made suet.
Freshen up our backyard by adding a new garden accessory, like a new bird house, feeder, or bath.
Visit a birding retail store and see what’s new on the market.
What do you think? Any of these resonate with you? If so, feel free to borrow any of my resolutions for yourself. I don’t mind.
One year ago this month, the National Wildlife Federation (NWF), America’s largest wildlife conservation and education organization, recognized me and my husband for having successfully certified our Wildlife Habitat through its Garden for Wildlife program. This month, we are celebrating the habitat’s one year anniversary! Woo hoo!
Truth is, we certified our mountainous habitat in response to the “Dog Head” fire that consumed nearly 18,000 acres in June of last year. We had experienced a sudden influx of both birds and wildlife immediately after the fire and we wanted to do our part to create a safe haven for them. In fact, in just this past year alone, we’ve had 32 different bird species come through our habitat, many of which have nested and are now raising young.
Common visitors to our bird sanctuary include chickadees, Steller’s jays, juncos, pine siskin, and house finches, while special appearances were made by a black-throated gray warbler and Williamson’s sapsucker. We provide for the wild birds with several birdbaths and over a dozen bird feeders. And we go through about 80 pounds of bird seed a month! But providing water is the most critical aspect of what we do (as you’ve heard me say before) because a bird will die from dehydration before it will die from starvation, especially during critical winter months or droughts when water is scarce.
Even wild mammals need water, as evidenced by several photographs I took this summer of a mule deer drinking water from our birdbath out back. (That was terribly exciting to watch!) Other mammals frequenting our wildlife habitat include Abert’s and rock squirrels, brush and cottontail bunnies, coyotes, and a pair of wolves.
In the midst of the worldly drama around us, we’re grateful to have nature as a form of distraction. The beauty and grace of our wildlife and birds delight us daily, reminding us of the splendor of God’s creation. Thank you for celebrating this milestone with us, for your encouragement along the way, and for your support of our efforts.
So, what is a manifesto and why do you want to create one of your own? A manifesto is a public declaration of policy and aims. It’s a mission statement, a proclamation, or an announcement of one’s values and commitments.
I decided to create a manifesto of my intentions with regard to our wildlife habitat and bird sanctuary. I want to keep myself accountable and reminded of my commitment – to our wildlife and birds. I want to be a good steward of our habitat and make sure our wild guests are comfortable, safe, and well fed. I figured a manifesto would be the perfect tool for that reminder, keeping me focused on what I value and serving as my north star when things get tough.
Creating my manifesto was an interesting exercise. I researched different approaches and finally I just started writing down those things that were important to me in terms of the commitment I was willing to make. I had to keep it simple, though, otherwise the task seemed daunting. But it wasn’t too terrible. In fact, it was an insightful exercise. So, here’s my backyard birding manifesto. How would yours read?