Friday, August 15, 2014

Another Life Bird

I know, i know, this is just a robin, getting a worm, but I didn't take the camera upstairs, alas

This one was not an easy, great-big-hawk-in-your-face kind of thing. Nope, it began months ago with the suspicion that I was hearing another flycatcher under the noisy Willow, and ubiquitous Eastern Phoebe. 


I listened to replays of every Empidonax available in the area, and thought that maybe....just maybe...it might be a Least Flycatcher. Never found a circumstance where I could pick out the call enough to record it though, so I let it go, with maybe next year.

Then, Wednesday while I was gearing up for babysitting, I spent a few minutes in the upstairs bird window. It was rainy and dull, but a little bird obligingly perched right out in the open.

It was a Ruby-Crowned Kinglet kind of affair, but was displaying clearly flycatcher-like behavior and the wrong markings. 

I cataloged every tiny detail of its appearance for detective work later, but I was really hoping that it was a Least.

The computer was useless, but in minutes with the Nat Geo guide, I was sure. Wing bars-check. Right colors in the right places-check. White eye-ring-check. Size, shape, behavior-check.

Life list-check.


Saturday, July 26, 2014

Not bad for July


A good bird day for so late in summer. First I heard the yard Robins getting all alarmed and nervous. There were loud chirps coming from at least four places. Thinking a cat had come by...usually the wrens tell me about cats, but hey, you never know...I got up and went outside. 



I didn't see a cat, but I rattled my shaker stick, just in case.

Out of the honey locust, very low...just over head level, flew a large, brown bird.

It was so low that I was looking at a rear profile so to speak, as it labored away. Once it gained altitude it was revealed as a Red-tailed Hawk. Thanks Robins! I expect it was checking out the kids' little chickens and turkey poults.



Duck fight up at the lake. Somebody got too close to the Black Duck's ducklings

Then, as I was listening and watching from the sitting porch the male Ruby-throated Hummingbird did a courtship flight right in front of me, just a few feet away.

Wow, it was loud and fast and very dramatic.



When he was done, he sat on the string on the porch, where he likes to roost, and flared his throat feathers. No trouble seeing where he got his name!


A few minutes later the little female stopped in for a sip at the feeder. He flew out of nowhere, flying so hard and fast that they almost hit me in the head.

Okay, love is in the air and all, but I would be thankful if it was not in my ear.




Thursday, July 3, 2014

Year Bird


Didn't expect to get a year bird for the farm count today, and certainly didn't expect it to be something as common as a House Finch, but it was.

It showed up on the new feeder (thanks again, Linda) on the new arbor (thanks, Jade) inches away from the newly washed kitchen window.

I have been watching and listening for House Finches all year, but this is the first for some reason. She was accompanied by the second, and Liz says several others as well.

Saw an interesting bird thing or two this week. First a Red-Tailed Hawk, hotly pursued by a pair of Common grackles, winged his way by with a big snake clutched in his talons.

And then a Wood Thrush, which has started singing quite often from the very edge of the lawn. It is the closest this wonderful singer has ever come to the house. Usually they prefer to hang out down in the front field or down by the road. He is a welcome addition to early mornings and sultry evenings.



Saturday, June 28, 2014

The Tree was full of Baby Chickadees

Lousy photos, taken before the light got good.

There is a dead box elder behind the kitchen.



No big loss; box elders are weed trees and we have hundreds...maybe thousands. The dog tie out killed this one, slow strangulation, noticed too late to move the chain, long after the dog was gone. It will make firewood later.



This morning, in another fog, yesterday's brood of baby birds....definitively identified as Chickadees when the parents brought them into the feeders last night...were cheeping up a storm up there.


There were lots of other birds too, using the tree as a staging stop before they hit the mulberries.



More than twenty at any time, Grackles, Robins, House Sparrows, Grey Catbirds, Cedar Waxwings, Gold Finches and more...all in that one tree


If there are twenty birds in each tree, how many are there in the yard and the fields around the house?

We are so lucky.

Birds before 7:30 AM this day from house and yard:

American Robin
European Starling
Common Grackle
White-breasted Nuthatch
House Sparrow
Killdeer
American Goldfinch
Wood Thrush
Carolina Wren
Cedar Waxwing
Northern Cardinal
Song Sparrow
Grey Catbird
Chipping Sparrow
Great Crested Flycatcher
Common Yellowthroat
Red-bellied Woodpecker
Willow Flycatcher
Black-capped Chickadee

Bringing in fledglings :

House Sparrow
American Robin
Grey Catbird
Black Capped Chickadee
Downy Woodpecker
Red-bellied Woodpecker
European Starling
Song Sparrow

Friday, June 27, 2014

Somebody New


Was singing when I awakened yesterday morning...a Song Sparrow-like pattern of notes but with a thrush-like chiming sound. I staggered out of bed and bumbled downstairs, only to find that it was still dark out.

No way to see what was calling.

Oh, well.

Yesterday's birds:

American Robin
European Starling
Cedar Waxwing
Rock Pigeon
Grey Catbird
House Sparrow
Carolina Wren
Northern Cardinal
Common Crow
Common Grackle
Yellow Warbler
Indigo Bunting
Killdeer
Song Sparrow
Chipping Sparrow
Mourning Dove
American Goldfinch
Common Yellowthroat
Downy Woodpecker
White-breasted Nuthatch
Red-winged Blackbird
Yellow Warbler
Baltimore Oriole
Black Capped Chickadee
Warbling Vireo

Today's additions: 
Willow Flycatcher
Purple Finch
Red-bellied Woodpecker




Wednesday, June 25, 2014

A Lazy Wheep

Turkey Vulture
They are ubiquitous this summer

Rings out from the little elm across the driveway, then comes slowly closer. Once I would not have noticed this bird, let alone recognized its call. However, during the flood of 2006, when we sat, stunned, no power, no access to the outside world, no nothing of what we were used to, hoping the generator would be up to letting us get the cows milked, one of these guys used the front hall as an echo chamber.

Trust me, that slow, peaceful, wheep is amazingly loud when projected that way.



We are rich in flycatchers this summer. The Willow Flycatcher that nests at the edge of the long lawn never lets us down. There are at least a couple more pairs up in the fields that I have heard.


Phoebes never fail us either, and nest around or on the house and barn each year.

Oddly, yesterday, an Eastern Kingbird joined the throng in the mulberry trees. You haven't seen birds until you have spent a stolen hour in the chair in the window in Liz's old room, watching the Cedar Waxwings, Grey Catbirds, Robins, Gold Finches, and Starlings gobbling fruit. It's like TV for birders.


But what was a flying bug eater doing in there? Or for that matter the downy woodpecker, which appeared to be eating berries too, although I couldn't quite be sure.

At any rate the robins soon showed the Kingbird the way to the door.


Great Crested Flycatcher

Wednesday, June 18, 2014

Tapering

Juv. Brown Headed Cowbird waiting for its "parent"
Song Sparrow to come out of hiding so it can pester it some more


There are not as many birds singing now as earlier in the month and those that do sing don't do so as often. Right now the Warbling Vireo is going at it and a few House Sparrows.

Earlier there was a Great Crested Flycatcher making a lot of noise near the window.


Northern Mockingbird

Yesterday the Mockingbirds came back after only showing their feathers once in early spring. Of course the male made a big deal of himself, strutting, and showing off and claiming all the high spots in the yard. I suspect with him around there will be much less predatation on local nests. Mockingbirds don't put up with that kind of thing.

A day's species count isn't what it was either. Birds are quiet and hiding. 

So far today:

American Robin
European Starling
Common Grackle
Common Yellowthroat
Yellow Warbler
Indigo Bunting
Carolina Wren
Common Crow
American Cardinal
Song Sparrow
Brown Headed Cowbird
Blue Jay
American Goldfinch
Purple Finch
Great crested Flycatcher
Grey Catbird
Red-winged Blackbird
Cedar Waxwing
Mourning Dove
Baltimore Oriole
Northern Flicker
Turkey Vulture
Warbling Vireo



Cedar Waxwing