Summer counts reflect busy time of year for local birds

Photo by Bryan Stevens  Many young birds, such as this Chipping Sparrow on a barbed wire fence in Limestone Cove in Unicoi County, look almost nothing like their parent.

Photo by Bryan Stevens
Above: Many young birds, such as this Chipping Sparrow on a barbed wire fence in Limestone Cove in Unicoi County, look almost nothing like their parent. Upper: Young Tree Swallows test perching skills.

I took part in the two Summer Bird Counts conducted recently by the Lee and Lois Herndon Chapter of Tennessee Ornithological Society in Carter County and Unicoi County on consecutive June Saturdays.

Photo by Bryan Stevens A young Eastern Phoebe perches patiently on a branch while waiting for a parent to bring food.

Photo by Bryan Stevens
A young Eastern Phoebe perches patiently on a branch while waiting for a parent to bring food.

One thing I enjoy about participating in Summer Bird Counts is the prevalence of young birds. It’s only to be expected since the summer season is the time when most local birds build nest, lay eggs and rear young. Some birds got started with the business of raising young back in April and are already attempting second nestings.

Photo by Bryan Stevens A male Northern Cardinal tends to a fledgling hidden near the ground in thick brush.

Photo by Bryan Stevens
A male Northern Cardinal tends to a fledgling hidden near the ground in thick brush.

This year’s counts reported a variety of young birds among the totals, including numerous Wild Turkey poults, as well as species as diverse as Ruffed Grouse and Chipping Sparrow to Northern Cardinal and Barn Swallow.

I counted birds on Holston Mountain in Elizabethton with Chris Soto and Robert Armistead during the Carter County survey. For the Unicoi County, I teamed with Gary Wallace and John Whinery to count birds in the community of Limestone Cove.

Photo by Bryan Stevens A Song Sparrow brings a beakful of caterpillars back to the nest to feed young.

Photo by Bryan Stevens
A Song Sparrow brings a beakful of caterpillars back to the nest to feed young.

The Carter County and Unicoi County Summer Bird Counts are the only surveys conducted during the summer in Northeast Tennessee and Southwest Virginia. Christmas Bird Counts are more common and include the long-running Bristol CBC and more recent surveys such as the Glade Spring CBC and Shady Valley CBC.

In next week’s post, I will explore the results of the counts in more detail. You might very well be surprised what birds can be found in the region. I know I always am!

Photo by Bryan Stevens A Barn Swallow makes a food delivery to young waiting somewhat patiently on a utility line.

Photo by Bryan Stevens
A Barn Swallow makes a food delivery to young waiting somewhat patiently on a utility line.

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