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Count birds instead of staying inside this winter

Back ToYBO Home PageFrom Florida Wildlife Commission

One, two, three, four: cardinals, finches and chickadees. How many birds can you count in your backyard this winter?

While you may not hear their boisterous whistles and tweets like you do in spring, birds are still in your backyard. Your yard may look gloomy and dull this time of year, but there are bright feathers to see.

In the warmest southern states, many species of birds are just arriving from as far away as Canada. It is migration season, when many feathered friends travel to escape the frozen, snowy north.

Eastern Towhee Cedar Waxwings Eastern Bluebird Pileated Woodpecker Cardinal, female Cardinal, male Blue Jay

What might you see bustling and flitting around your yard? Well, you might set your sights on a yellow-bellied sapsucker, a migratory woodpecker that gets its name because of the holes it bores into trees to suck the sap out of the bark.

Or you might see an American goldfinch or chipping sparrow. Although their colors are duller in the winter, goldfinches are still easy to spot through bare branches and brown leaves because of their yellow feathers, black wings with white markings and cone-shaped bill.

The chipping sparrow is a robust little bird with a rust-colored cap on its head. It must love to be heard because it sings loudly from high, outer limbs of trees. Chipping sparrows like feeders too, if you have one.

Counting and viewing birds is as easy as walking out your back door and looking in your trees, bushes or at your feeder. Make it a family event and take mom or dad outside with you.

Things to have handy: binoculars, bird guides and checklists to keep track of the kind of birds you see and how many you count. If you plan to be outside for a long period of time, take a blanket to sit on and a cup of hot chocolate!

Kids in Florida can join the Florida Wildlife Commission's Wings Over Florida program or become a Junior Birder. For more information check these links:

Another opportunity to count birds in your backyard happens Feb. 17 to 20 for the annual Great Backyard Bird Count, the largest bird count in North America. This event helps scientists learn things, like how winter weather influences bird populations, how this year's migration compares with last year's, and what kinds of birds are in cities and rural areas.

For information about this upcoming event, visit

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