Great Backyard Bird Count – Day 3

by Larry Jordan on February 22, 2011

American Pipit (Anthus rubescens) Foraging photos by Larry Jordan

You may have been wondering what happened on day three of the Great Backyard Bird Count.  Well, I had a photo blind reserved at Sacramento National Wildlife Refuge.  I had a few excellent photo ops from the blind but I had no visits from raptors this day.

I had several good views of ducks, the numbers of which the refuge reported in December as 530,809 along with 133,082 geese.  I estimated that I saw approximately 6,500 Snow Geese in one location at the refuge on Sunday and several hundred assorted ducks.  The list for my count is at the end of this post.

I did get excellent views of this American Pipit from blind number one as well as some Tree Swallows that you will see in upcoming posts.

As you can see from this photo, it was a gorgeous day for day three of the GBBC.  Clear, sunny and no wind.

This bird showed up just as I was getting ready to leave the blind for the day, which brings up one of my rules when photographing birds.  When you are ready to leave your location, stay for at least another thirty minutes.

This little fella put on quite a show for me, preening and stretching

And foraging for arthropods along this log and the surrounding waters edge.

It was cool watching the tail pumping that American Pipits do almost constantly while foraging.  This bird jumped in and out of the water several times while pecking at indistinguishable small prey.

Here is a short video in case you haven’t seen this bird’s foraging style.  They are very active.

If you want to see more cool bird photos, check out World Bird Wednesday!

And here’s my count for day 3 of the Great Backyard Bird Count:

  1. Greater White-fronted Goose 300
  2. Snow Goose 6,500
  3. Gadwall 58
  4. American Wigeon 12
  5. Mallard 8
  6. Cinnamon Teal 8
  7. Northern Shoveler 110
  8. Northern Pintail 138
  9. Green-winged Teal 24
  10. Bufflehead 13
  11. Common Goldeneye 2
  12. Ring-necked Pheasant 3
  13. American White Pelican 100
  14. Double-crested Cormorant 4
  15. American Bittern 1
  16. Great Blue Heron 1
  17. Great Egret 3
  18. Snowy Egret 2
  19. Turkey Vulture 4
  20. Bald Eagle 2
  21. Northern Harrier 3
  22. Red-shouldered Hawk 1
  23. Red-tailed Hawk 4
  24. American Coot 250
  25. Black-necked Stilt 48
  26. American Avocet 2
  27. Long-billed Dowitcher 44
  28. Glaucous-winged Gull 1
  29. Barn Owl 1
  30. Nuttall’s Woodpecker 2
  31. Downy Woodpecker 1
  32. Black Phoebe 4
  33. Tree Swallow 17
  34. Bushtit 8
  35. Marsh Wren 18
  36. Ruby-crowned Kinglet 1
  37. American Pipit 1
  38. Yellow-rumped Warbler 11
  39. Savannah Sparrow 10
  40. Song Sparrow 1
  41. White-crowned Sparrow 6
  42. Red-winged Blackbird 115
  43. Western Meadowlark 26
  44. House Finch 3
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{ 17 comments… read them below or add one }

Corey February 23, 2011 at 3:31 am

Great pipit shots!

I am seriously jealous of the spreadwing shot in particular, though I also like the back shot of the bird in the water.


joco February 23, 2011 at 5:06 am


What a precious creature.
And an amazing birdcount for a backyard.
18 wrens? What luxury.
A ‘blind’ is a hideout I take it?
Is it portable? Pictured anywhere?


Gary Phillips February 23, 2011 at 5:31 am

Wonderful series!! Boom & Gary of the Vermilon River, Canada.


holdingmoments February 23, 2011 at 5:33 am

Great captures, and good to see the video; they certainly move fast Larry.


springman February 23, 2011 at 6:57 am

Fantastic Larry! Your half hour rule is sage advise! Your bird count is inconceivable!


Phil February 23, 2011 at 9:00 am

You got some impressive counts there Larry, phenomenal by our standards over here 6500 Snow Geese must be some sight, we get excited when one turns up in the UK.


theconstantwalker February 23, 2011 at 11:46 am

Lovely images and video. The water shot is a great capture.


Eileen February 23, 2011 at 3:06 pm

Great series on the Pipit. Looks like you been having some great counts while birding.


Jean February 23, 2011 at 3:17 pm

I have never seen a Pipit so really enjoyed the video. You had a great count!


Sondra February 23, 2011 at 5:47 pm

WOW I love the shot of the opened wing–super!


Mick February 24, 2011 at 1:18 am

Those are really great photos of the Pipit – especially the one with it stretching its wing. Hmm! Not sure that an extra 30 mins would work out here. The tide might go out and leave me high and dry in my kayak 🙂


Pat February 24, 2011 at 7:25 am

You observed a great variety of birds! Your Pipit photos are wonderful and I loved the video showing this little bird in action! Great post!


NatureFootstep February 24, 2011 at 10:59 am

nice shots. I looked at the video too, it behaves almost as some of the vaders. 🙂


Jill February 24, 2011 at 11:07 am

These are fantastic! That wing spread shot is so great!


Hilke Breder February 25, 2011 at 4:42 am

Nice still shots, Larry, and I love the video that shows the bird in action. You can never get them from a static photo. We don’t see pipits in the part of the country too often.


Larry February 25, 2011 at 11:45 am

@Corey thank you very much. I really like that spread wing shot too.

@Joco a blind is a “hide” as you call it across the pond. I will be posting about it in a post coming up (with photos).

@Gary thank you very much

@Keith they are pretty quick alright

@Dave it took me quite awhile to learn to wait longer to see more. After missing really good photos, I decided that a little extra time is time well spent!

@Phil I will be posting on the Sacramento National Wildlife Refuge coming up with some photos of all those Snow Geese. They were an incredible sight when they took off!

@Andrew thanks. I like that shot too. It was, I think, the only photo of the bird in the water that I got

@Eileen thanks. I’m not sure I got all the birds I saw at SNWR on the count, I was mostly taking photos and it’s hard to do a good job of both.

@Jean I really enjoyed watching the Pipit foraging on the log. I hadn’t spent much time watching them before. I was pretty satisfied with my GBBCs this year too, thanks!

@Sondra thanks. I had quite a few photos of this bird preening. I liked that one the best

@Mick you have a very good point on the time factor when out in a kayak where you are 😉

@Pat thank you very much

@NF yes, the Pipit does behave much like a little shorebird

@Jill thank you so much!

@Hilke thank you. I am trying to shoot more video so folks can see the behavior of the birds too.


Mike B. February 26, 2011 at 12:40 pm

Wow- what an exhaustive list! I did mine in 15-minute increments. Maybe next year I’ll try a full day in the yard and see what happens.


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