January 03, 2023
I mentioned at the beginning of last year that I was going to make a more concerted effort to increase my bird count during 2022. Although I did take one of two specific trips to find more birds, the rash of new sightings did not occur. I even hedged a little this year by trying to include birds I saw on our trip to Europe. From a birder perspective, those 15 days only produced six new species. One of the problems was most of the birds I saw were either too quick for me to get a photo, or they were a species I had already seen in the US. The one huge exception were the flocks of green parakeets (Psittacara holochlorus) I found in Cologne, Germany. These birds were released into the wild as pets and have lived in this unique microclimate for the last 50 years, growing in numbers to over 4000 wild birds.
When I looked online, I found that generally pet birds released into the wild cannot survive because they do not have the skills necessary to find food and stay safe from predators. These pets also need to learn what to do in extreme temperatures, and for some species, how to migrate. These skills are taught by their parents and other familiar birds at a young age. Pet birds are also unable to find food sources in the wild because they were never taught how to forage. Another difficulty is that pet birds form bonds with their human families. Releasing them into the wild can cause a great amount of stress and separation anxiety. Most pet birds are bred in captivity, not captured from the wild. This includes exotic species that are bred by the thousands and then sold to pet stores. Unfortunately, there is no federal legislation in place to protect birds in the pet trade in the US. Birds that are captured from the wild for life in a home or zoo appear to suffer a great loss being removed from their natural environments.
All that said has been leading up to the “great reveal” concerning my birder totals for 2022. You may recall I recorded 26 species in my first year (2020). I got off to a great start in 2021 with 29 species by the end of January and a total of 52 species for the year. This year has been slower going, and I only recorded 44 different species, not counting the six European sightings (50 total?). While I have been watching my feeders this year, I have not yet recorded any of the birds I have seen (for me, no photo, no count).
THOUGHTS: It is time to get back onboard and once again get prepared for the Great Backyard Bird Count 2023 (February 17, 2023 – February 20, 2023). This annual event brings families and bird lovers together to count the birds. A fun and great reason to fellowship. Perhaps if I made my birding a “resolution” this year I may have more luck. At least I might feel bad about breaking my goal two months into the year. Act for all. Change is coming and it starts with you.