Counting Birds

I just finished up my third season of doing songbird point counts in Indiana.  The project I worked on involved the Smithsonian, Oregon State University, the Institute for Bird Populations and the Army Engineer Corps.  I would go to a number of points each morning and spend ten minutes at a site recording all the birds I heard or saw.  In case you’re wondering, it is possible to feel a bird without hearing or seeing it.  You could have owl perch on your shoulder or sense a bird like Spiderman senses enemies.  My boss didn’t understand one time when I wrote “gut feeling” for the detection type after sensing two Wood Thrushes were in the bushes.  Were there two birds in the bush?  I don’t know, but I did hold a Wood Thrush in my hand later on in the season.  I feel like there is a saying I could insert here, but nothing’s coming to mind.  Huh, oh well.  Here is a picture of me holding a Wood Thrush from last year.

Wood Thrushes are related to robins and have a beautiful song; which was a good thing because I’ve had to listen to them for the past three summers.  We studied their behavior, checked on nests, measured vegetation and tracked young and adult birds.  More on Wood Thrush in a later post. but right now I want to talk more about point counts.

The variety of bird species recorded during a count often varies based on the time of day and the specific site.  There were some points where I would always get the same birds.  Some birds, like Acadian Flycatchers and Red-eyed Vireos, are so common in southern Indiana that I would detect at least one at almost every point.  While most birds quit singing sometime in the late morning, Red-eyed Vireos will sing throughout the day and are known a marathon singers.  Their song is kind of boring to be honest but at least they make an interesting noise when they are agitated.  Their annoyed/angry call sounds like a harsh rapsy ‘waaah’.  Sometimes I imitate vireos for fun when I hear them call out.

Red-eyed Vireo PhotoAcadian Flycatcher Photo

(Red-eyed Vireo on left and Acadian Flycatcher on right from allaboutbirds.org)

I have more information and pictures to share with you about some of the birds I have encountered, but I’m saving that for the next post.  Right now, here is another bird song parody I wrote called “Counting Birds”.  “Counting Birds” is set to the tune of the popular song, “Counting Stars” by OneRepublic.

 

 Counting Birds
(To the tune of “Counting Stars” by OneRepublic)

Intro Chorus
Lately I’ve been, I’ve been losing sleep
Dreaming about the birds that we could see.
But baby, I’ve been, I’ve been looking hard,
Said no more counting cow herds
We’ll be counting birds
Yeah we’ll be counting birds.

Verse 1
I hear this finch with a singing whine
Sing his heart on the powerline
That goldfinch is in the pines
Seek him out and you shall find

Fast, but I’m not that fast
Quick, but that will not last
I don’t think a place this vast
Could keep a finch from flying past

Pre-chorus
I, see something so bright
It must be the right wing
I, hear cheerful fast song
Oh how that male does sing
I could cry, could cry, could cry
Every bird that sings out makes me feel alive

Chorus
Lately I’ve been, I’ve been losing sleep
Dreaming about the birds that we could see.
But baby, I’ve been, I’ve been looking hard,
Said no more counting cow herds
We’ll be counting birds
Lately I’ve been, I’ve been losing sleep
Dreaming about the birds that we could see.
But baby, I’ve been, I’ve been looking hard,
Said no more counting cow herds
We’ll be, we’ll be counting birds

Verse 2
I see this bird, soaring in the sky
It starts to coo and it’s not shy
Dove is a four lettered word
Take those wings and watch them fly

Fast, but I’m not that fast
Quick, but that will not last
I don’t think a place this vast
Could keep a dove from flying past

Pre-chorus
I, see something so white,
It must be the right wing
I, hear cooing so long
It must be a dove thing
I could cry, could cry, could cry
Every bird that sings out makes me feel alive

Repeat Chorus

Bridge
Take those wings, watch them fly
Flapping and soaring across the great sky
Repeat x3

Every bird that sings out makes me feel alive

Repeat Chorus

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