Saturday, May 26, 2007

I Couldn't Leave Florida Behind

Most of those photos were taken in the back yard on the water in Florida. There are a few I photographed while on a birding morning on a Florida golf course. I could probably do another page of the more common birds, and some we saw but couldn't photograph.

All in One Place


There was a digital scrap-booking challenge at one of my online "homes" to use a certain ad as inspiration. The ad had a lot of circle photos. I wanted to join the challenge and realized the ad was perfect for putting some of my bird photos in one place.

There has been a bird hidden in the neighborhood trees with a distinctive, loud, musical call. I decided, once again, to try and identify the bird by sound alone. I started playing all of the calls from All About Birds. The door-wall to my garden from my computer room was open. I looked up from playing all these different bird calls to see my yard just filled with birds. Unfortunately, not anything unusual, and I haven't identified the bird call yet, but if I find it, I now have a plan to play the All About Birds bird calls and lure it out into the open.

I move my feeders around a bit trying to get more songbirds and fewer of those big black feisty birds. The suet-seed cake feeders are now hanging on the fence and the songbird feeders are on the shepherd hooks. I left one of the suet cake feeders empty when I moved them until I saw the Downy Woodpecker trying to get one last bit of food from it. I went out with a new cake and didn't seem to scare the Downy at all. He let me get quite close before he flew off into a tree. Once I was inside again he was right back to feast.
Thursday, May 17, 2007

Surprise!

Over these last 3 days of rain and gloom, I saw nothing at the feeders but big, argumentive black birds. Then all of a sudden, I looked out today and there was the most beautiful sight...a bright Baltimore Oriole.
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With its brilliant orange and black plumage, the Baltimore Oriole's arrival is eagerly awaited by birders each spring migration. Its preference for open areas with tall trees has made it a common inhabitant of parks and suburban areas.

Description

  • Medium-sized songbird.
  • Male brilliant orange with black head.
  • Size: 17-19 cm (7-7 in)
  • Wingspan: 23-30 cm (9-12 in)
  • Weight: 30-40 g (1.06-1.41 ounces)

Sex Differences

Male brightly colored with black hood, female duller and without black hood.

Sound

Song: a series of rich whistled notes interspersed with rattles. Call: a chatter.

Conservation Status

Populations showing slight decrease across range, but populations probably stable. This species should be monitored closely.

  • The Baltimore Oriole hybridizes extensively with the Bullock's Oriole where their ranges overlap in the Great Plains. The two species were considered the same for a while and called the Northern Oriole, but recently, they were separated again. Molecular studies of the oriole genus indicate that the two species are not very closely related.
  • The "orioles" of the Americas were named after similarly-appearing birds in the Old World. The American orioles are not closely related to the true orioles in the family Oriolidae. They are more closely related to blackbirds and meadowlarks. Both New and Old world orioles are brightly colored with red, yellow, and black; have long tails and long pointed bills; build hanging, woven nests; and prefer tall trees around open areas.
  • Young male Baltimore Orioles do not achieve adult plumage until the fall of their second year. But some first-year males with female-like plumage succeed in attracting a mate and nest successfully.

Wednesday, May 16, 2007

Dude, you are annoying!



We spent Mother's Day at my daughter's family lakehouse. Of course I took my camera for family pictures, but also because they have so many little songbirds in the surrounding woods. As soon as we had arrived, my son-in-law filled the feeders outside the big picture window in the dining room. Immediately a little Black-Capped Chickadee and a little White-breasted Nuthatch came to dine and stayed most of the day.
WHITE-BREASTED NUTHATCH

BLACK-CAPPED CHICKADEE

For SOME reason, the Nuthatch started flying into the window and catching on to the frame and pecking at the glass. After this had gone on and on, I went outside to see if I could solve the puzzle of why he was doing this. It seemed to me that he was looking at the reflection of the feeder in the window, but when the lights went on inside and the reflection was not a factor, he continued flying at the window. This wore a little thin as we tried to have dinner. Finally my son-in-law started knocking back at the bird and said, "Dude! You are annoying!" Of course the 4-year-old picked up on that phrase, repeating it until WE were annoyed at HER.

We never did solve the mystery. I wonder if that bird is STILL flying at the window.
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Black Capped Chickadee

One of the most familiar and beloved birds in northern North America, the Black-capped Chickadee is a frequent visitor to bird feeders. Its apparently cheerful activity throughout the harshest winters has won it the admiration of many people.

Description

Small, short-billed bird.

  • Black cap.
  • Black bib.
  • White cheeks.
  • Size: 12-15 cm (5-6 in)
  • Wingspan: 16-21 cm (6-8 in)
  • Weight: 9-14 g (0.32-0.49 ounces)

Sex Differences

Sexes look alike.

Sound

Song: two or three notes whistled, with first higher in pitch, "fee-bee-ee." Call: suggests name "chick-a-dee-dee."

Conservation Status

Black-capped Chickadees have benefited from human-provided food and nest boxes, as well as increased forest edges caused by deforestation. However, overzealous forest management can reduce or eliminate natural nest sites.

Cool Facts

  • The Black-Capped Chickadee hides seeds and other food items for later recovery. Each item is placed in a different spot and a bird can remember thousands of hiding places.
  • The chickadee's simple-sounding calls have been found to be extremely complex and language-like. They code information on identity and recognition of other flocks as well as predator alarms and contact calls.
  • Breeding pairs and nonbreeders join up into flocks outside of the breeding season. Nonbreeders may be members of several flocks, with a different position in the dominance hierarchy of each flock.
Tuesday, May 8, 2007

Duck, Duck, WHAT?

Male Mallard

Ducks are a way of life in this community right on Lake Erie. They beg for bread, stomp on your feet while you feed them, swim in puddles, and have free run of the streets. No one would think of being irritated when you have to wait for a pair to cross the road.

I have had a pair of ducks swimming in my un
-opened swimming pool every year for the last 2 or 3 years, but never saw them in my garden before today. Not only were this pair tromping through the plants, the female came right up to the door wall begging. I ran to find a couple of pieces of bread and started tossing pieces on the ground for her. The male, meantime, had been alongside the house and chased her away from the bread. He didn't seem to want it for himself...just didn't trust me, I guess.
Female Mallard
Male Mallard

Monday, May 7, 2007

American Goldfinch

I have been waiting to snap this little male finch for a year or so. I put out a thistle finch feeder last week, but only saw him once. I had the two "shepherd hook" feeded holders right together for ease of photography. The other birds seemed to be scaring off the finches so I separated the hooks by 6 feet or so. Immediately the finches started coming in in the morning and evening. I hear their beautiful song all the time, now.

A familiar and abundant small colorful bird, the American Goldfinch is frequently found in weedy fields and visiting feeders. It shows a particular fondness for thistles, eating the seeds and using the down to line its nest.

Description

  • Small bird.
  • Bill small, pointed, conical, and pink.
  • Body bright yellow to dull brown.
  • Wings dark with large white wingbars.
  • Tail short and notched.
  • Breeding male bright yellow with black cap and wings.
  • Size: 11-13 cm (4-5 in)
  • Wingspan: 19-22 cm (7-9 in)
  • Weight: 11-20 g (0.39-0.71 ounces)
  • Summer male is bright yellow with a black cap whereas female is drab olive. Sexes similar and drab in winter.
  • Song a long series of twittering and warbling notes. Common contact call a "tsee-tsi-tsi-tsit," often given in flight. May be described as "per-chic-o-ree" or "po-ta-to-chip.
  • The American Goldfinch changes from winter plumage to breeding plumage by a complete molt of its body feathers. It is the only member of its family to have this second molt in the spring; all the other species have just one molt each year in the fall.
  • The American Goldfinch is one of the latest nesting birds. It usually does not start until late June or early July, when most other songbirds are finishing with breeding. The late timing may be related to the availability of suitable nesting materials and seeds for feeding young.
  • The American Goldfinch is gregarious throughout the year. In winter it is found almost exclusively in flocks. In the breeding season it feeds in small groups. Whether it maintains breeding territories is debatable.
  • The American Goldfinch is mostly monogamous, but a number of females switch mates after producing a first brood. The first male takes care of the fledglings while the female goes off to start another brood with a different male.

Thursday, May 3, 2007

Back Home in the North


This Cardinal looks none too thrilled with the Mourning Dove on the feeder.

Downy Woodpecker-Male
Downy Woodpecker-Female
Blue Jay

I was so sure my birds from last fall had abandoned me...after all I had abandoned THEM when I went to Florida for the winter. I had 2 suet-seed cakes in the house from Fall so I replaced the empty ones the day I returned and was rewarded with a LOT of activity. I was most concerned about the pair of Woodpeckers from Fall, but there they were, waiting for me along with Cardinals, Blue-Jays, Sparrows, Juncos, Doves, and Starlings. I bought a thistle-feeder and the next day a bright yellow and black wild canary (Gold Finch) had found the feeder.

Today I HAD to go to the store and buy a supply of seed-cakes, since it takes only 2-3 days for the birds to go through 2 cakes, especially if the Starlings stop by. I also bought another hook so there is place for both the thistle
and the suet cake feeders.
Sparrow

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Laura Lou
Michigan/Florida, United States
I am a retired Middle School Science teacher from Michigan spending 4 months each winter in Florida and learning about a whole new world.
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