Then I'll check junco numbers. The great thing about the GBBC is that anyone can check results by visiting http://www.birdcount.org. A week from now we'll know if blue jay and junco numbers are really down or if we're just seeing local blips in the populations.
Another problem some people have this time of year is birds crashing into windows with lethal results. Sometimes they're trying to escape a hawk in hot pursuit, or they may simply be flying into the reflection of vegetation they see on the glass. In any case, they hit the window and break their necks.
I think most homeowners have experienced the heartache of finding a dead cardinal or goldfinch beneath a window. But some windows are particularly deadly. It may be due to their size, angle of the glass, or type of habitat.
If you find more than a few dead birds under a window each year, a simple solution is available. The website http://www.birdsavers.com explains how to solve the problem.
Simply hang lengths of 1/8-inch nylon parachute cord at four-inch intervals along the width of the window. Anchor these cords to a horizontal piece strung across the top of the window frame. Allow the cords to dangle freely about three inches above the bottom of the window. Field tests have shown that this simple window treatment can reduce bird/window collisions by 90 percent to 100 percent.
Jeff Acopian, creator of birdsavers, attributes its success to birds' navigational skills in close quarters. "When birds fly through the woods or dense vegetation, they easily avoid hitting twigs and other obstacles," he said. "Likewise, they see the cords and avoid them."
The important thing is that birds avoid windows protected by birdsavers, and it's an easy do-it-yourself project. The website includes detailed instructions for making your own. Acopian does sell ready-made birdsavers on his website, but he says, "It's not about making money. It's about saving birds."
Send questions and comments to Dr. Scott Shalaway, RD 5, Cameron, WV 26033 or via my website, http://scottshalaway.googlepages.com.