Tuesday, August 19, 2014

Bird Feeder News: August 19, 2014

     The bird feeders in the backyard have been especially busy the last three days. I continue to have every goldfinch in the neighborhood visiting. And the grackles. [One neighbor commented on the large number of "blackbirds" around. I let it go. He wasn't asking for my help in learning how to distinguish blackbirds from grackles]. And the red finches, the house sparrows, the three blue jays [all happy with the addition of a feeder containing peanuts], the mourning doves, some hummers, a nuthatch, and the usual assortment of black-capped chickadees. The male red-wing blackbird has not been here. I figure he finally found true love with a female of his own kind.

     I haven't seen the red-bellied woodpecker lately at the feeder but the hairy has brought along her mate. A set of exasperated house finch parents had a fledgling reluctant to fend for herself[?] at the feeders. She follows them around squawking her head off. A pair of tufted titmouse had a baby in tow who also squawked but he[? who knows really] appeared to be willing to learn what to do.

     A few black-capped chickadees showed up a couple of days ago with the three tufted titmouse in tow. Yesterday, a bunch of tufted titmouse flew in and pretty much invaded the feeders all at once. They were happily flitting around all over the tree. The tree was singing with them. Noisy little birds, darlings who chattered much more than they ate. They seemed to be having a grand time. They made me laugh. Today too, they came but in smaller bunches. 

     Some brown-headed cowbirds have showed up along with the grackles. I was able to concentrate on sharpening up my identification skills. The brown heads are a giveaway. The tails, I compared with grackle tails in order to cement the differences in my head. They stand differently than the grackles too.

     To my utter delight, I've had first one chippy  and now two who are ground-feeding. They make little "chip" sounds as they eat, and fly.

     Yesterday I watched a huge gray striped cat climb an oak tree behind us. People, cats outdoors become killing machines. Your cats [and mine] are much safer indoors away from birds, traffic, and diseases. Just saying.

                         sapphoq n feathered buddies

Wednesday, August 13, 2014

Bird Feeder News: August 13, 2014

     The ruby-throated hummers continue to flock around the feeders and wildflower blossoms in the backyard. I have seen the pine siskin and red crossbill once since the last report. The red-winged blackbird was present during the later part of last week but not this week so far. I hope he's figured out that those grackle buddies of his are not looking to feather his nest. Also absent this week so far has been the red-bellied woodpecker.

     The chickadees and gold finches continue in abundance along with the grackles. I've had up to twenty grackles at one time in the yard. Several grackles wait for their turn at the platform feeders on a hook from which hangs a bell. The bell rings when they land on the hook. None of them have reacted in fear. One of the grackles was startled when he flew into one of the wind chimes along the fence. He came to a quick stop and then resumed his flight to visit the neighbor's yard. 

     The chickadees brought along one nuthatch yesterday. The chickadees are rather sociable little things and they buzz me all the time. When I filled up one of the platform feeders the other day, they continued their feeding from the hanging feeders and did not bother to fly off.

     I have spotted a male goldfinch swinging off of the loop I have hanging up for that purpose. I don't know if it the same male goldfinch who is doing the swinging or not. It is never one of the female goldfinches.

     I watched some young house sparrows attempt to maintain their balance while feeding from the hanging sunflower kernel feeder. They much have been newly fledged [from the pine! tree] because they were doing the excessive wing-flapping that I have watched other young ones do.

     Rounding out the crew is a female hairy woodpecker, a pair of purple finches, the morning doves, and an increase in numbers [since last week] of red finches.

     The gray squirrel that dominates one of the platform feeders continues to do so. He makes noises and chases other squirrels away when he is feeding. He has allowed a smaller red squirrel to feed from "his" feeder this week, along with one of the three regular blue jays and one of the regular chipmunks.

     The swallows continue to occupy airspace but do not visit my backyard. I have seen them lining up along the telephone poles in the countryside this past Saturday.

     I did see a hawk-like bird today on a tree in the neighborhood but was unable to get an identification.

sapphoq n feathered friends 

Wednesday, August 06, 2014

Bird Feeder News August 6, 2014

     Over the last two days, I've had pine siskin and red crossbill visit the feeders. The pine siskin is a spunky fella with a hoarse voice. I spotted something small and brownish. First general impression was of finch-like behavior, a bit more nervous and shy than the usual drop-in at the feeders. Once he opened his mouth, I knew. It was that raspy "zipper" call that gave him away. He called while feeding and flitting back and forth between his chosen feeder and the middle branches of the tree. 

     His buddy the red crossbill was a bit less nervous, having already been to the feeders. The crossbill ate quietly, picking the seeds out and not having to fly into the tree to crack the seeds open. I suspect it was the chickadees who led them to the backyard. 

     Within walking distance are fields, woods, a couple of parks, a creek, and some wetlands. That siskins and crossbills would live nearby was not a surprise. I wasn't expecting them to show up. Both are irruptive. With the surrounding environs, they didn't have to travel very far. I didn't recognize any females although they could have been present. 

     One female hairy woodpecker came briefly to the feeder the other day. She was very pretty-- if such as adjective is not out of place in describing a wild bird-- and stayed for only a minute before flying away.

     The red-bellied woodpecker has become a regular. I've spied it between two and four times a day eating from the sunflower kernel feeder. These three visitors have caused me to wonder what is going on in the woods. Either the food supplies there are not what they usually are [summer has been rainy and late this year] or perhaps the presence of two aggressive dogs living near the woods have forced them to look for food in places where the pooches are not able to go. [Our yard is fenced in]. The presence of our aging dog-- who does not chase birds, only squirrels-- did not seem to bother these three visitors.

     Over the last couple of summers, there has been a gradual increase in our population of red squirrels and younger red x gray squirrel crosses. [Reports are that they can and do interbreed]. The tails of the reds are less bushy than those of the grays. The reds are also bolder, daring to use the deck railings as a pathway to one of the trees. Staring at them gets them to turn around. I really do not want any squirrels so close to me that I can touch them. They are wild and deserve to stay that way.

     I haven't seen the crow that was buzzing me but the male red-wing blackbird continues to hang with some of the local grackles. He flies in with a bunch of them. The grackles mostly concentrate on the corn while the red-wing eats from the sunflower kernels and the suet. The grackles will sample other things as well, but the corn mixture [which includes pumpkin seeds and peanuts] seems to be their favorite. I've watched quite a few grackles hop down from the platform feeders with corn kernels in their bills. They are confident birds. When the sun is out, their bluish-black feathers shine. I now have an underfeather-- a very small one about the size of a pinky nail-- which also glistens a pretty bluish color in the sun.

     The cast of regulars continue to show up: chickadees, nuthatches, mourning doves, a pair of purple finches, some house finches, tons of goldfinches [who are now eating the safflower seeds again along with the sunflower kernels], and of course the grackles. Swallows continue to fly overhead. Starlings have been absent from the yard. Perhaps the grackles discourage them, I don't know.

     I've been studying the way that some of the birds land and how the ones that land in a tree get down to the feeders or the ground. I've also been noting who is wary of who and which bird species appear to be buddies. This is something that has been impossible for me to figure in the woods. I suspect this could be spotted in the nearby parks as well. Truthfully, I prefer the woods and the fields to more civilized places but dog and I do go to the parks sometimes.

     Dog likes to sniff out frogs near and in the creek. [We have our own captive-bred frogs in tanks at home]. She snuffles through the bolt holes in the winter and hunts frogs at her feet while standing in the creek. She doesn't chase them ever but seems to enjoy watching them swim around. A well-behaved and trained dog is a pleasure. Taking the time to teach a dog how to behave is its own reward for both human and dog. This one has not been a deterrent to birding at all. She is not allowed to chase or harass any of the animals around us. [And yes, I pick up her poop!].

          ~sapphoq and friends