I am participating in two Christmas Bird Counts this weekend; Dec. 17 in Gastonia and Dec. 18 at Lake Norman. On Dec. 26 I will count birds during the Charlotte count. Though you may not be able or care to participate, you actually can contribute to any count if you happen to live within the designated counting area.
There are a few species that are almost certainly present in our area but are not typically encountered in the field; rather they are usually found as feeder birds only. Examples are any species of hummingbird, orioles, and any species of warbler other than pine or yellow-rumped.
In addition, there may be some real rarities like a Western or summer tanager patronizing a feeder. If you are hosting any of the above mentioned species or have an odd bird you cannot identify; and you live in a Christmas Count Circle; contact me as soon as possible so the bird(s) can be verified and counted in the official results. Someone may need to come out and verify the report but if a definable photo can be obtained that can suffice.
Baltimore orioles have moved to feeders in the last week or so. I saw an adult male at my feeding station last weekend, and I have heard of others experiencing the same. And there is always the chance something really unusual will be accompanying orioles.
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I received a photo last week of an adult male summer tanager from the Cotswold area. That is a really rare winter bird anywhere in the Carolinas. Only one hummingbird from Mecklenburg County has been brought to my attention so far but there must be more out there. I have heard of some from surrounding counties.
Folks that habitually feed birds every year know also that extremely cold weather brings birds to the feeders. The cold air we have experienced the last couple of days no doubt has brought something super to a feeder or two in our area. With the rainy weekend forecast I’m hoping some folks will spend a little more time feeder watching and will notice something new.
The next few weeks I will report on how the area counts are going in terms of trends and rarities. Every count season is unique in some way
Taylor Piephoff is a naturalist with an interest in the birds and wildlife of the southern Piedmont: PiephoffT@aol.com.