Saturday, February 23, 2008

Spring can’t be far!

This morning, while getting ready for work, I heard the woodpeckers drumming for the first time this year (though several regularly visit my feeders) and geese honking overhead again, too. I missed seeing them, but I wonder if I didn’t hear the Sandhill Cranes, the other day, too; they sound like a flock of chickens overhead! When I heard the local Ravens meeting in their tree, I didn’t think much of it. They have their tree; there is another around the corner where the vultures roost later in the year. It seems as many as 15 or 20 Ravens regularly meet in a big tree to the west of my yard, but this morning they were exceptionally loud. It occurred to me they might be mobbing another bird and went out and saw the first Great Horned Owl in my yard! I love those big things…and hear them regularly at night. It was way cool to finally see one…and so big…had to be a female; awesome, in spite of the fact that there wasn’t a little bird in site at my feeders. LOL

On a sadder note, while looking for a good link regarding the Sandhill Cranes, I came upon this article:

New homes threaten sandhill cranes
12:54 PM CST on Sunday, February 17, 2008
by Sara McDonald / The Daily News

LEAGUE CITY — Every year, just as the Texas heat begins to simmer down, Kim Rouse and her family wait to hear the familiar, throaty squawk.

Up in the sky, tiny gray dots spiral down until she can see the long necks, wobbly bodies and narrow, pointy beaks.

The sandhill cranes are back for another season, ready to roost in the marshy, open field along the interstate.

Now, with just a few weeks left until the peculiar birds head north for the summer, Rouse is preparing to say her last goodbye.

Next year, the field where the flock has congregated will look like the land around it — more houses, backyards and subdivision streets. Work has started on the Sedona subdivision — a neighborhood with 221 homes on expansive 10,000-foot lots.

The homes will occupy the 70 acres south of League City Parkway and west of Butler Road where the long-necked birds roost.

Complete article:

I much prefer what Colorado was able to pull off; behold the birth of a new National Park: The Great Sand Dunes National Park and Preserve. One of the best parts is it’s located just about an hour from my home!

Yesterday I saw my first American Robin here this year. I’ve seen them in Walsenburg for a month now, but only just heard them here last evening. Their song is so distinctive; I had to go looking for them specifically…just to see if I ‘knew what I heard’.

A couple Evening Grosbeaks visited again. A book I borrowed from the library finally confirmed the ‘greenish bill’. An Audubon Handbook of Western Birds by John Farrand, Jr. put it in writing.

I’ve been spending a lazy day today in front of the window; watching birds. I believe I have Savannah Sparrows here, as well as a rather shy House Sparrow that grabs and darts food much like a Chickadee. The pink-butts, as I call the Rosy Finches are not around today, but the Cassin’s and House Finches continue to come every day, all day….just like the Juncos, Pine Siskins, Goldfinches and Woodpeckers…oh and the Eurasian Doves.

I thought it odd when I noticed a dark lump in the trees and with the binoculars discovered a Red Tailed Hawk in the yard next door. I watched it for about five minutes, but all the little birds didn’t seem to mind it being there. Perhaps it is more interested in squirrels and rabbits than small birds? Funny, I’m trying to teach myself how to take mental field notes when I watch a bird. Watching this one, I discovered they ‘projectile poop’! Who knew!

One last thing. The other day I noticed a blackbird type bird; same size as a Red-Winged Blackbird or a Yellow-Headed Blackbird…but without those color markings. This one had a thin, white shoulder line and I could swear I saw the tiniest bit of red when it took flight. I’ve never even heard of a Tri-Colored Blackbird, but saw on Bill Schmoker’s photo collection (You'll find his Tri-Colored Blackbird in the Dickcissel & Blackbird album). THAT was the bird. Since then, I’ve been told the bird has never been seen in Colorado; that I must have seen a Red-wing. Do they sometimes come with so little red I almost missed it…or with the conspicuous white shoulder markings on an otherwise black bird? Here are some lovely photos of what I believe I saw...the second page shows the way the red shows-up when it opens it's wings. I saw absolutely no yellow. I borrowed the books to check it out. The only other bird I could imagine it might have been is a Lark Bunting…but with hardly any white on it at all; just a thin patch on the front of the shoulder. As the one who called me on my probable miss-identification...birds don't always follow what the guide-books suggest! LOL What I need is a birding pal!

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