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Bird count this weekend provides for participation in mid-winter birding

Baltimore orioles are among the species to be documented during this weekend's Great Backyard Bird Count.
Baltimore orioles are among the species to be documented during this weekend's Great Backyard Bird Count.

Mid-winter birding offers a number of opportunities to see great birds both in our and surrounding areas. A reminder that the annual Great Backyard Bird Count will be held this weekend, Feb. 17-20. Participation is simple and easy: merely count the highest number of birds of each species that you see visiting your feeders, while on a walk around your neighborhood, on a visit to a birding location, etc. and report your sightings to the website at: http://www.birdsource.org/gbbc The GBBC allows all of us an opportunity to help the birds by participating in this huge citizen science project.

For those hosting winter Baltimore orioles, Lex Glover with S.C. Department of Natural Resources would like your participation in their efforts to collect data regarding our state’s winter oriole population. For more info on participating, please contact me at carolinensis@yahoo.com

While Feb. 14 is a day observed by many to show appreciation for that significant someone in their life, it’s also a great day to show some appreciation to our feathered friends that use nest boxes by cleaning out and making any needed repairs to those structures. Spring is just around the corner, and Eastern bluebirds and other cavity-nesting species will soon be prospecting for suitable places to nest and raise young during the upcoming breeding season.

Valentine’s Day is also a great time to start planning and preparing a hummingbird/butterfly garden for the season. Our tiniest avian friends will be returning from their tropical vacations soon, with the earliest returnee males customarily showing up in our area in mid-March. These glittering fragments of the rainbow have exceptional memories and remember the precise locations where hummingbird feeders were deployed last year as well as the location of patches of hummingbird-preferred flowering plants. Having a feeder in service early in the season benefits not only the birds returning to breed in our area, but also the untold numbers of tiny travelers just passing through on their way to more northern nesting sites. As more nectar-producing flowering plants begin their bloom periods later in the season, a collection of their favored flowers will help attract and keep these minuscule marvels around your own backyard. In addition to attracting hummingbirds, most nectar-producing flowers are also attractive to butterflies, and help to bring a number of these “honorary birds” up close for observation and enjoyment. For a list of hummingbird-favored plants that do well in our area send an email request to carolinensis@yahoo.com

Remember to keep your feeders clean and filled with a solution of one part sugar to four parts water with no other additives, please. Let me know when the first hummingbird arrives in your backyard.