Sunday, September 30, 2012

Now I See the Yellow: Northern Flicker

Another rainy day this month, another good morning for the birds.  This day I got a nice look at a northern flicker.  Usually when I get a long look at a flicker, the bird is on the ground eating, so I've never had a good look at its undersides.  I knew the eastern flicker has yellow underparts, and the western bird red.  After all this time I'd never gotten a good look at the yellow.  Finally, a flicker perched in a tree, for a good long while, and I got some pictures, yellow under tail and all.

Northern Flicker

Below is a picture from August of a young flicker in the yard down in the grass where I normally see them.  Mostly I wanted to post this picture because I thought this flicker incredibly cute!  They're a beautiful bird.

another Northern Flicker

Enjoy the day - Cheerily

Saturday, September 29, 2012

New Birds in the Yard

Much of September we kept an eye out for migrating birds. 

One day was particularly good; it had been a rainy night; by morning it was still drizzling a bit and was cool.  We ended up seeing three birds we'd never seen in the yard.

The first, and the best, was a black throated blue warbler.  I was sitting inside working on my computer when I heard a new "chit" that I'd not heard before.  I knew something different was out there!  It was very gratifying to realize hearing a call I didn't recognize was enough to give me a push to get out there and find a new bird.

Yes, I'm patting myself on the back!

I didn't find right away; I looked on and off for a a few hours in the morning, but finally, I did see him, and got a pretty good picture.  He is a "he" too, the female black throated blue warbler looks a lot different.  I think you can see, this male bird is unmistakable, no doubt what he is.

black-throated blue warbler

For all these birds, I used the Cornell Lab of Ornithology's "All About Birds" web site to help in id'ing.

By the way, these warbler and vireo pictures are not too crisp because frankly these guys tend to move around quite a bit.  I'm usually lucky to get a picture at all!  So be I've said before, I'm not trying to win any photography awards, I'm trying to show what's out there on any given day, and sometimes that means some blurry pictures.

mystery vireoWhich brings me to the next, I am fairly sure to be a red eyed vireo.  This bird had dogged me over the summer, not here on the "Edge" but out and about bird walking in other places....the red eyed vireo seems to sing on and on and on all summer long, not just on and on, but loudly on and on, so much so that it drowns out the birds you are trying to listen for!  I'd gone all summer and heard maybe a million of these guys or so (give or take twenty) but as far as seeing....maybe I saw one all summer, and that one I'm not sure of.  They always were behind leaves high in trees and not moving much, very hard to pick out.

red-eyed vireoI was thus surprised to look at two blurry pictures and realize that what I was looking at was a red eyed vireo.  He had been hanging out in the pignut tree, he turned around a few times, I snapped a couple shots, and then he was gone.

You can't really see the red eye, but the head pattern is distinctive.  See the dark line through the eye.  See the faint dark line against the grey head on top, the white above and below the eye.

According to "All About Birds", an immature red eyed vireo has brown eyes not red, so perhaps this one didn't have red eyes at all.

unknown bird

This bird is the last bird of the three.  Didn't get a very good picture or a very good look, but a good enough look to make a guess.

I decided on blue headed vireo.  It's tough to see the face of this bird, but I think he might have spectacles.

I'm not very sure about this id.  Make your own call!

Despite not being able to see the bird very well in this picture, I do like this shot because of the apples.  Pretty!

That was our day of new birds in the yard. 

Enjoy the evening - Cheerily

Friday, September 28, 2012

White Throated Sparrows Return

My intention was to update my blog with September events for the next few days.  Here is one of those updates, though it is only an update of what happened this morning!

white throated sparrows

I was so excited to see the rain and the chill, since I figured with that weather would come some new birds.  Sure enough, I looked outside and under the feeder there were three white throated sparrows.

white throated sparrow

Haven't seen them around the yard since last spring, and only had seen them over the summer in the mountains.  They're a beautiful sparrow and say "winter" to me, in the nice way of saying "winter": the winter we think of when we imagine hot cocoa and cozy fires, not the winter we live of shoveling snow and sliding the car into snowbanks.

two white throated sparrows

Ok, a bit early to be thinking about winter!

white throated sparrow in the grass

Love these birds; they are difficult to get a good picture of because they hop around on the ground eating.  Every time I try to snap a shot, they either bend their head to take a bite, or move on to the next feeding spot.

white throated sparrows look for seeds

Enjoy the day - Cheerily

Thursday, September 27, 2012

Quiet Afternoon: Tufted Titmouse

I've had a bit of a September Swoon when it comes to blogging!  Not because September has been boring, or uneventful, but rather because I've been overwhelmed with all the changes going on outside around us.  Transitioning from the heat  and humidity of summer into the chill of September is tough, for me anyways.  I don't know how the birds feel about things, but obviously times are changing for them too!

I will try in this and my next few entries to sum up September.  Much of the month was spent hunting for migrant birds, but one day I took time to look at one of our most common year round residents....

The day was cool and humid, and quiet in the yard.

I stood outside looking for some birds, and at first I saw not one, but then I did see this one sitting silently in a tree, and I was surprised to see what kind it was.

tufted titmouse

tufted titmouse speaks

tufted titmouse looking around

It was a tufted titmouse, which as most of you no doubt know, is a regular visitor to bird feeders.  I think over the years I've tried taking a million pictures of them, because they're around so often, but few of the pictures turn out very good.  Titmice are always on the move!  They flit into the feeder, then fly right back out.  Over and over and over.

tufted titmouse another view

tufted titmouse straight on view

tufted titmouse looking up

This guy though was happily sitting there, and didn't move for several minutes, so I took a bunch of pictures of him.

tufted titmouse side view

tufted titmouse still sitting

tufted titmouse with something in mouth

I went a bit slap happy taking pictures.  From the first of these to the last, only four minutes elapsed, but in bird time, that's forever!

tufted titmouse looks bored

tufted titmouse attending to feathers

tufted titmouse final view

Finally so wonderful to see one of these guys sitting still for a while!

Enjoy the day - Cheerily

Sunday, September 2, 2012

Another Bird, Another Mystery

The other day, I saw this bird perched in a tree.  He sat for sometime so I got a real good look and some decent pictures.

mystery bird

What is he?  I don't know of any black and white bird with a yellow eye that looks like this.  Then I thought maybe this bird has a pigmentation problem, which made me think it might be a common grackle, but now I am off that theory.

mystery bird another look

Compare to this grackle that was in the yard the same afternoon, along with four others. I think this is a female.

grackle on tray

Obviously one bird is black, the other not!  Their shapes don't quite line up either.  But the faces to me looked so similar, including the yellow eye, that I for a while was sticking to the grackle theory.

grackle on house

Back to the mystery bird.  While I snapped pictures, he didn't do much.  At one point he fluffed his feathers, and he turned around a couple times.

mystery bird very fluffed out

mystery bird looking around

Here are some more pictures I got of the back of this bird, after he had turned around.

mystery bird view of back

mystery bird showing tail

A few shots of the bird lifting up and spreading his wings and tail, to give you an idea of what the rest of the bird looks like.  When I looked at these, I started thinking, hey, look at that white on the wing feathers.

mystery bird showing more tail

mystery bird under tail

It occured to me, a bird that has this coloration, and yellow eyes, and white patches on wings, is the northern mockingbird.

I am pretty sure that's what this guy is!  He is, like many birds in August, having a bad hair day.  I checked my files for some mockingbird pictures from earlier in the year.  Here are some from April.  Funny thing is, he was perched in the same tree in both April and August!

northern mockingbird from spring

You can't see the white patches on the wings in these, but you can see the eye and beak, and also the grey legs of the bird. The grackle has black legs. That pretty much eliminated him for me.

northern mockingbird another view

I never thought I'd confuse a grackle with a mockingbird! I read online about some grackles having white feathers, and that sent me down the grackle path.

northern mockingbird walking around

You're probably thinking, I knew that was a mockingbird all along!

northern mockingbird is the mystery bird

Enjoy the day,