Sunday, February 23, 2014

Downy On Birch Snag

It's a great time of year to watch woodpeckers.  They are especially active now, and it's easy to track their movements with no leaves in the trees.  I spied this male on a dead birch snag.

downy by a new hole

The sound of him excavating this hole is what caught my attention.  See how fresh the wood inside looks.  These dead snags make great habitat for woodpeckers and other cavity nesters.

downy inspects hole

I watched as he continued to excavate.  At several points he buried his head in the hole and seemed to inspect the inside of the tree.  Then he would lean back and look from the outside before continuing his work.

downy inspects his work

After several minutes, he took a break, turned, and climbed the snag.

downy climbs

Last I saw him he was enjoying the view from the top.

downy on top

Enjoy the day - Cheerily

Friday, February 14, 2014

Bluebirds in the Yard

Happy to announce something that makes me extremely happy - a pair of Eastern Bluebirds made an appearance in the yard today.  For my "country" friends maybe this does not seem like such a big deal, but we are not always so fortunate here to have bluebirds around.

In fact, last year we only saw bluebirds for a couple of days in the spring before they moved on.  The last time they were here for more than a few days was spring of 2011, when they appeared to set up house in a nest box I had hanging in my favorite "birding" tree.  The birds stayed for a couple weeks, perching in the tree together near the nest box.

One day they were just gone.  I saw both a chickadee and house wren fly into the house, so maybe they scared the bluebirds off.

Last year I put the box back up, and a pair of house wrens nested in it.  I had a couple of blog posts on the baby wrens leaving the nest box last summer.

What will happen this year?  I don't know.  A few weeks ago I thought I heard a bluebird singing in the woods out back.  Turns out I was probably right.  Today I looked up from my laptop to see a pair fly by the window.  I looked out and couldn't find them, but a few minutes later I looked up again and the female bluebird was perched in the pignut hickory, seemingly looking through the window at me.

I took some pictures through the window.  They came out terrible but I was afraid if I stepped outside the bird would fly.

female bluebird first of the spring

I couldn't believe my eyes at first, I took this picture then got a closer look.

female bluebird blurry through the window

In a moment she flew off towards the woods.  I looked where I lost sight of her and for a moment saw the male bluebird sitting in the sumac at the wood's edge.  I lost sight of him almost immediately, but in a few seconds he began to sing, and he did that for some time.  It was a bright sunny winter afternoon, and I was glad to hear his song.

Hearing the song made me think I should get that nest box back out in the yard.  I take the nest boxes down in late fall to clean and put out in spring.  Maybe this year sooner is better.

my favorite birdhouse

I love this birdhouse.  The birds have had some success with it.  It's not designed for bluebirds, and it's not placed ideally for bluebirds (on a pole in a field,) but the bluebird box I bought for them and placed on its pole in the open a few years ago has sat empty.

birdhouse up for spring

Thus begins the 2014 bluebird watch.

Enjoy the day - Cheerily

Sunday, February 9, 2014

Celebrate the Snow

Warm weather melted all our snow.  The day after the last of it left us, happily we got a fresh foot of fluff!  The day following the storm, though cold, was bright and sunny.  The birds were very active in the yard.

mourning doves sunning

Ok, the mourning doves were not moving much, but they were actively sunning!  It was the perfect day for it - no wind, so the sun made the freezing cold feel downright warm.

The juncos were all over the place.  This one landed high in a white pine.  He seemed to love the view from a snow clump in the needles.  Without the snow he would have had to sit under cover in the branches and miss the sunshine.

junco in snow on white pine

Other birds were actively feeding.  I was amazed to see some sparrows digging in the snow.  I couldn't see anything to eat, but this white throated sparrow found a seed.

white throated sparrow with seed

Along with the seed he got a face full of snow for his efforts.

white throated sparrow with face full of snow

Winter rolls on.

Enjoy the day - Cheerily

Sunday, February 2, 2014

How These Woods Would Sound

These past few days we've had some mild (slightly above freezing!) sunny weather.  The birds have been active and noisy.  One sunny day I was out in the yard surrounded by the chattering.  I had the pleasure of growing up in this place and I can't help but think about the changes through the years.  It suddenly occurred to me as I mentally catalogued whom I was hearing that most of the birds this day were not around in winter when I was a little girl.

northern cardinal

Northern Cardinal.  Tufted Titmouse.  Red-bellied Woodpecker.  Carolina Wren.  I don't recall any of these.  Sure enough, grab an old bird book from fifty years ago and check out the ranges of these birds, you'll see that they've expanded north in recent years.

tufted titmouse

I don't remember which birds we used to hear or see in the yard in winter.  Certainly Black-capped Chickadees.  But I mostly remember winter as being cold, snowy, and quiet!

Red-bellied Woodpecker

(I don't have any recent Carolina Wren pictures, certainly not because they haven't been around!  They are one of the noisiest birds of late.)

Each of these species makes itself known during this time of year.  I've heard a cardinal singing at dawn the last few days; later during the day the cardinals can be heard chipping to each other as they travel the neighborhood.  Also heard are the titmice and Carolina Wrens singing over and over during the heart of the day.  The Red-bellied Woodpecker makes its "cha cha" call as it flies through the woods from tree to tree.

I wish I could go back and listen to this place from when I was a child.  How would these woods sound absent these birds?  Which other species were here then that are not here now?  I have lots of pictures from those years, but sadly, and I guess not surprisingly, no recordings of the birds!

Enjoy the day - Cheerily