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  • Writer's pictureJennifer Ann Richter

Bird Success, Star Fail


A shoebox with a hole cut into it and foil taped to the side.
My homemade eclipse viewer.

Project FeederWatch has come to an end (sniff-sniff). It’s always a bittersweet day. Of course, I’ll still be filling my feeders and looking out for some “wow!” birds, but I will miss tallying up my sightings and sending them off to the Cornell Lab.


A whopping 26 different bird species visited my backyard feeder station from November through April. Most came to eat. A few stopped by just to see what all the hubbub was about. Here’s the list (if you're using a phone, apologies for the wonky formatting):

Mourning Dove

Yellow-bellied Sapsucker

Red-bellied Woodpecker

Downy Woodpecker

Northern Flicker

Blue Jay

Carolina Chickadee

Tufted Titmouse

House Finch

White-breasted Nuthatch

Brown Creeper

Carolina Wren

European Starling

Gray Catbird

Northern Mockingbird

American Robin

House Sparrow

American Goldfinch

Chipping Sparrow

Dark-eyed Junco

White-throated Sparrow

Song Sparrow

Red-winged Blackbird

Brown-headed Cowbird

Common Grackle

Northern Cardinal

But no worries, the citizen science continues! This time in the form of NestWatch. I’m already monitoring one that appeared in the shrub outside my dining room window. And just this morning, I spied three hatchlings!

Now onto the stars. Or at least the big one that hangs out in our neighborhood. As with the 2017 eclipse and the 2012 transit of Venus, I stupidly forgot to buy solar viewer glasses! Fortunately, back in 2017 I was able to get a brief look through my neighbor’s glasses, but this year all I had was the cardboard box viewer that I’d built from online instructions.


I wasn’t in the path of totality, but my backyard did grow eerily dim and the temperature dropped. Also, the birds got noticeably louder, adding unsetting background vocals to the whole experience.


The next big celestial event will be when a “new” star pops up. It’ll happen sometime between now and September, in the constellation Corona Borealis. Of course, it’s not a new star, but a nova (yeah, I know “nova” means new, but you get my point). A nova is when a star suddenly increases in brightness, and in this case, since the star usually isn't visible to the naked eye, it will seem like a brand new star has appeared. You can read more about why it happens, where to find it, why we know it's coming, and also learn a few fun facts here and here.


Okay, that’s it for now. I’ll be busy in the coming weeks writing poetry for a tournament. (That is, if I make it past the first round). More details in next month’s post.


And if you haven’t already, be sure to check out May’s “Bird of the Month.”



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