This month marks the one year anniversary of our Wildlife Habitat and Bird Sanctuary, and as I reminisce over the last twelve months, I’m reminded of how blessed we have been. 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 have several birdbaths and over a dozen bird feeders, AND we go through about 80 pounds of bird seed a month.
Getting to experience the birds and wildlife every day is a special treat but the real gift lies in the wisdom I’ve acquired in such a short time. Nature has its music for those who will listen and I’ve done my share of listening. Here’s what I’ve learned in the process:
- The date and time stamp on the trail cam matters in keeping good records.
- Birds will not set a limit on how much food I should provide them, so I have to.
- Indoor window clings are critical in avoiding aviary window strikes.
- When time or resources are limited, water is more important than food.
- Having a contact at the local US Fish and Wildlife Service is really helpful.
- Photographs are required to support a claim of wildlife or bird species.
- There will be injured, sick, or orphaned wildlife and knowing in advance what to do when I find them will reduce stress – for me and for the wildlife.
- Volunteering at a local wildlife rescue organization is an ideal hands-on learning experience.
- The traffic patterns in my habitat may not match the information in various field guides, and that’s okay.
- Knowing the Migratory Bird Treaty Act of 1918 will help keep me out of jail.
I should probably write a book about everything I’ve learned this past year, but for now this is my short list. And if you’re interested in hearing the details around each of these ten learnings, check back here over the next several weeks. My goal is to elaborate on each and every one of these in greater detail. In the meantime… happy birding!
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?
I get compliments all the time on the pictures of my backyard birds, and I get questions at least half the time on my tricks of the trade. Lol. AND… I’m no professional. But, I am willing to share. Take a look at this video of my tried and true photography trips. And happy picture-taking!
I earned my 12 month participant badge this morning! Woo Hoo! That’s 12 months of submitting data for the Celebrate Urban Birds program.
And what a great program this is! Managed by the Cornell Lab of Ornithology, this project collects high quality data from people like me willing to provide information about the birds in my observation area, which is my backyard. And, it only takes 10 minutes and I can log my sighting online. Easy Peasy!
Why is this important?
In the last 6 years, Celebrate Urban Birds has partnered with over 9,000 community-based organizations, distributed more than 250,000 educational kits, and awarded dozens of mini-grants to promote the education of urban birds. And… 88% of their partner organizations work with underserved audiences with participants ranging in age from preschoolers and kindergartners to seniors, 75% of which have little or no experience with birds.
Focal birds in their observation study include:
- American Crow
- American Robin
- Baltimore Oriole (east)
- Barn Swallow
- Black-crowned Night-Heron
- Brown-headed Cowbird
- Bullock-s Oriole (west)
- Cedar Waxwing
- Euorpean Starling
- House Finch
- House Sparrow
- Mourning Dove
- Peregrine Falcon
- Rock Pigeon
Equally important are the observations of where these birds are not! I personally haven’t observed all of the birds on the list above. But that information also tells a story. In fact, this morning, I didn’t observe ANY of the focal point birds in my backyard. But I DID observe a blue jay, two cardinals, a yellow-bellied woodpecker, and two white-winged doves.
And they were all beautiful!