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A day for the birdwatchers

On Saturday, for the first time in 25 years, I took part in the annual bird count for Cottonwood County.
The count does not attempt to list every bird in the county, but is essentially a snapshot of bird species found in our area.
During the count, I rode with Jason Kloss and Mike LaMaack of Windom, bird count veterans who have forgotten more than I'll ever know about birds. They appointed me notetaker for our group.
Early on, we spotted just a few pheasants and starlings. However, activity took a jump at Bingham Lake, where more feeders and cover are evident. There, we saw more varieties of sparrows, a few blue jays and other birds.
I was surprised we didn't see birds that frequent my feeders in Windom - cardinals, nuthatches and chickadees. A few minutes later, I heard Jason exclaim, "Wait, there's an eagle!"
Mike hit the brakes. Sure enough, there, perched atop a farm site's tree was America's bird.
We shared some laughs along the way. At one point, I identified an American tree sparrow as a "red breasted sparrow." Mike and Jason giggled at my assertion, adding, "I don't think so."
I had seen this common sparrow's rust-colored head and got its name mixed up with another northern bird, the red-breasted nuthatch. I'm not sure I'll live that one down.
I heard a few tales about previous outings, such as the year Jason spied a goshawk, which is unusual for this area. Apparently, the discovery was met with raised eyebrows among birders. However, Jason stands firm on that one.
Who am I to argue?
I'd recommend the bird count to anyone. I hope to do it again - as a notetaker and guy who says, "Hey, there's a bird. What is it?"


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