Sunday, January 13, 2008

First 20 Birds of 2008

Posted by Kirk
January 1st would have been a sad day if I hadn't seen any birds. Luckily, I was not disappointed. Even though I was home bound I was able to add two birds to my new 2008 bird list. They weren't the most interesting or rare birds but I'm pretty limited when it comes to my still somewhat sad back yard. I took a look at the feeders on and off all morning and there weren't any birds. I looked in the afternoon and there were a bunch of house sparrows doing their best to deplete the feeders. There was also an adorable cottontail sitting under the feeders picking up whatever they dropped. I wish I had gotten my camera as it was a cool sight. That would have been my only bird sighting for the day but I looked up and happened to see an American crow flying overhead. So, that's two birds in the first day of 2008 and I know Thursday will net me a handful more on the drive to work and at the feeders.

January 3rd, I saw no new species on the way to work but I did manage to spot a hairy woodpecker, white breasted nuthatch, downy woodpecker, black capped chickadee, and a brown creeper a the feeders. The brown creeper was a nice surprise, I usually see one but not so easily. He wasn't using the feeders he was just hanging out near them. The photo on the left is the hairy woodpecker. I love how you can see he is just barely holding onto the side of the tree.

Downy woodpeckers look very similar to hairy woodpeckers only they are smaller.

Speaking of nuthatches, I took these next two photos of white breasted nuthatches on the feeders out at work.

On this nuthatch photo where he is upside down you can actually see the bird band on his leg from our bird banding program.

I strolled past the feeders after filling my coffee mug and spotted a Red bellied woodpecker in a tree and a red breasted nuthatch on the suet feeder.

The red breasted nuthatch was banded too. Okay so he's on the peanut feeder here. I took the photo another day. It is a little odd that he's hanging out at the feeders. We caught him in a mist net up in the prairie where there are some pine trees. He was released near the building and instead of going straight back to the prairie he discovered the bird feeders and we see him daily now.

A few hours later I peeked out at the feeders on my way downstairs and the goldfinches had arrived. Here's a fun picture I took with a goldfinch on the right and a black capped chickadee on the left. Later in the day I spotted a pileated woodpecker in the woods as well as twice at the feeders.

Sunday January 6th I taught snowshoeing at lake elmo park reserve. On my way to work to pick up the snowshoes I saw 5 red tailed hawks, and rock pigeons. Heading to the park I spotted a huge flock of turkeys in the corn fields along Norell Ave. Sorry, no camera. There were more than 30 of them. After snowshoeing I saw a pheasant just outside the park boundaries. I thought I caught glimpses of a blue jay and a starling as well but a good ID will have to wait.

Monday, January 7th I was thinking I was going to go the whole day with no new birds. I had an outreach event so I figured I would see something while driving. Nope. On the way home in the last rays of light I came upon Keller lake and wondered if the Bald Eagles would be checking out their nest tree on such a warm day in the winter. Sure enough, as I drove past I could make out the silhouette of an eagle perched high up in the nest tree.

Friday, January 11th on my way to another outreach program for work I spotted a bird on the phone line along Norell Ave and the turn to 61. It was watching over an evergreen plantation. I didn't expect it to be much but as I caught a glimpse passing by I saw a grey bird with black wings. It could only be one bird this time of year, the Northern Shrike. Very cool, I wish I had binoculars with me though I was on a tight schedule to get to my program so I probably could not have stopped anyhow. It was not there on the way back. As I left work for the day I spied a flock of birds on the shoulder of Manning Avenue. I had my suspicions and as I passed I saw they were indeed European starlings. That brought me up to 18 species in 11 days.

Sunday the 12th was a great day for birds in that I added a great and unexpected one to my list. While leading a hike I gathered all the kids around to look at some tracks in the snow and a little girl asked, "What's that white thing up in the tree?" It was a barred owl. How very cool. That same day I took the photos in this post at lunch. I was hoping to see the owl again but it was gone by the time lunch came and I could get a camera. I may try getting photos of some of the other birds I spot this year. It will make these long posts more fun to read. I know some of these aren't great photos but that really isn't the point. By the way, you can click on any photo to make it bigger.

Sunday the 13th I stopped at a pond near southdale mall that never freezes over. I saw tons of mallards but nothing else. I thought there was a chance of something else, maybe geese but no luck. Anyhow, the mallards count as species number 20. Not too bad. 20 species in 13 days.

1. House sparrow
2. American crow
3. Hairy woodpecker
4. White breasted nuthatch
5. Downy woodpecker
6. Black capped chickadee
7. Brown creeper
8. Red bellied woodpecker
9. Red breasted nuthatch
10. American goldfinch
11. Pileated Woodpecker
12. Red-tailed hawk
13. Rock pigeon
14. Wild turkey
15. Pheasant
16. Bald eagle
17. Northern Shrike
18. European Starling
19. Barred Owl
20. Mallard duck

Guesses for next 6 species: Canada Goose, Blue Jay, Northern Cardinal, American Robin, Junco, Mourning dove.