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In our yard, GLOBAL BIG DAY came early!

This year’s Global Big Day logo. Artwork by Luke Seitz.

Global Big Day–an annual event in which birders all over the country watch and count birds in the name of citizen science–happens at the beginning of the migration season, in early May. This year, it’s next Saturday, May 9!

Although we won’t be doing our usual driving everywhere–to parks and other places–due to the pandemic, we will definitely be participating from our own back porch. You can, too! If you’ve already got some feeders up, you’re all set. Grab your coffee, cocktails and binoculars and get ready! Here’s where to go for more info:

Northern Cardinals - Courtship Display

In this courtship display, a male northern cardinal feeds a female. Photo by Nathan Schoonover.

On that note, it appears the birds don’t know or care that it’s Global Big Day, because they were all here this weekend. In addition to our regulars (usually between 10 and 15 species), we had several transients, as well as new birds we hope will settle down with us for the summer. Here’s the complete list of all the birds I saw this weekend (Nathan saw a few more than I did; he spent more time outside). New-to-the-yard birds for THIS YEAR (meaning they’ve been here in prior years, but haven’t shown up yet in 2020) and transients (mostly the warblers) are in blue.

Rose-breasted Grosbeak

A male rose-breasted grosbeak checks out the feast on our porch railing. Photo by Nathan Schoonover

Rose-breasted Grosbeak – M and F

Tufted Titmouse

Eastern Bluebird – M and F

American Goldfinch

Cooper’s Hawk

Red-bellied Woodpecker

Downy Woodpecker

White-breasted Nuthatch

Eastern Towhee

Eastern Towhee

This male eastern towhee and his girlfriend started showing up a week or two ago. Photo by Nathan Schoonover

House Sparrow

Mourning Dove

Tufted Titmouse

A tufted titmouse loses his mind over all this free fluff for his nest! Photo by Nathan Schoonover

White-throated Sparrow

Northern Cardinal – M and F; courtship display

Blue Jay

Northern Flicker

Pine Warbler

Pine Warbler

This pine warbler was in this feeder, like, ALL DAY LONG. Photo by Nathan Schoonover

Black-and-White Warbler

Black-and-white Warbler

I was so happy to see this black-and-white warbler! We get at least one or two stopovers from this guy every year. He will usually hang around for a few days. Photo by Nathan Schoonover

Carolina Wren

Black-capped Chickadee

House Finch – M and F; courtship display

Broadwing Hawk

Chipping Sparrow

European Starling

Song Sparrow

Red-tailed Hawk

Purple Finch – M

Blue-gray Gnatcatcher

Ruby-throated Hummingbird

Red-shouldered Hawk

Hairy Woodpecker

American Crow

House Sparrow

American Redstart

Yellow-rumped Warbler

Gray Catbird

Chestnut-sided Warbler

Blackburnian Warbler

Baltimore Oriole – M

American Robin

Eastern Phoebe




A hermit thrush perches in our back yard, April, 2018. There was quite the snafu trying to get this bird id’d (ovenbirds and hermit thrushes can look really similar to an unpracticed eye like mine), but an Ebird expert came through. Photo by Nathan Schoonover.

If citizen science appeals to you and you love birds or have always wanted to have an excuse to start birdwatching, this Saturday, May 5, is a golden opportunity!

Global Bird Day is a “virtual” event in which participants take as little as 10 minutes in their favorite spots—even in their backyards—and count the number of birds and species. Participants then log what they’ve seen in Ebird. This effort is important, because it shows the ornithologists at Cornell a real-time snapshot of which birds are where—especially now, when we are in spring migration, which got off to a late start due to the colder-than-normal weather patterns.

Participating is easy; you can do as little or as much as you want, and a free Ebird account takes just a couple of minutes to set up. You can download an app, too, if you prefer—but you don’t have to. You can do it the old fashioned way, like I do: take a notebook and a pen and record it later.

Nathan and I are hitting up four locations; the first one will be easy, because it’s our back yard (thanks to 18 feeders, we get 14 species on a slow day). We’ll head up to hike a few miles through Audubon Bent of the River in Southbury, visit the nature preserve behind our favorite cemetery in Bridgewater (we’re hoping for lots of water species), and spend the remainder of the day at another preserve in Brookfield.

If you’d like more information on how to participate, visit

If you’ve got Kentucky Derby or Cinco de Mayo invites (we do), those are probably at the end of the day, so you can still do both! Don’t miss out!

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