Monday, March 31, 2008

Come to the Feeders my Pretties . . .

Posted by Kirk
Thursday, March 27th I noticed there were suddenly no birds at the bird feeders at work. I quickly scanned the trees and spotted a coopers hawk. It was really neat to see the downy woodpeckers hiding on the back side of skinny little trees. They stayed still and pressed up to the tree directly opposite the side the hawk was on. They didn't move until he flew off. Earlier that day, I caught a glimpse of a purple finch at the feeders. I've been hearing them sing amongst the din of American goldfinch songs but hadn't seen one.

After a run to the grocery store on Sunday, March 30 I spotted a coopers hawk in my neighbor's tree. It is so nice to see some birds in my neighborhood. I've been seeing a coopers around every summer. I wonder if it is the same bird or just one moving through.

Monday there was a heavy wet spring snow and all the birds crowded at the feeders so I was able to get some shots with the camera. They aren't spectacular but the idea was to just get some shots this year of the birds I see. The driving snow made for less than spectacular shooting conditions.

The first thing I noticed when I looked out at the feeders was all the Juncos. These "snow birds" are still around so should we be surprised we have snow? This little guy is cute though a tad blurry through all the snow. There was a whole flock of juncos that had come in to the feeders from somewhere. Probably the side of the road. When the snow started to fall so quickly they needed food and their regular haunts were buried. I noticed a few birds mixed in with the juncos. It is not unusual for them to be in mixed flocks. Here's an American Tree Sparrow surrounded by Juncos looking around and wondering "Where'd all my peeps go?"

Here's a size comparison of the American Tree Sparrow and the Junco. At first glance though the snow I thought the American Tree Sparrow might be the first chipping sparrow of the year. All I could see was the red head. Nope. There's a soft breast spot and the coloration on the head (aside from the red cap) is all wrong.

Pretty much with the juncos (but being hassled a bit) was a lone Fox Sparrow (my first of the year.) He was doing his little hop-scratch technique at the bottom of this wooden post. This is really pushing the limits of this camera and the snow had picked up even more at this point. Can you spot the downy woodpecker in the photo?

I was taking these shots while watching for the school group's bus out the window. I stepped away for a few moments to talk to some volunteers and our site manager, Dave, asked if I had seen the Turkey out the window. What? I was just looking out there! Sure enough, this young Tom Turkey wanted a little snack.

Last but not least, I finally got a photo of the very elusive purple finch that has been coming to the feeders very infrequently the last week. He never stays long. This time, he spent the entire time on the back side of the feeder. In the photo he's just peeking around the side. I'll have to capture a better photo later. If I think this is bad, wait until I try to get shots of warblers! Maybe I'll just take shots of the ones the bird banders catch.

2008 Running Bird Species Tally

38 Purple Finch
39 Cooper's Hawk
40 Fox Sparrow


Chelsey said...

wow, those downys really are tiny