Friday, January 2, 2009

A New Year

As my first year of birding comes to a close soon (in February), I look forward to continuing my education about birds; how to identify them and were to find them. Highlighs include my first CBC where two new birds were added to the 20-year old list and both were found in my yard!

Other highlights include discovering the Pink Butts; all three Rosy-finches at my feeders, discovering the fact that immature White-crowned Sparrows can have brown, checkerboard heads, teaching myself to discern the difference in three little red birds; House Finches, Cassin’s Finch and Purple Finches…by watching them for long periods of time as each fed outside my window.

In my yard I observed Turkey Vultures who came to roost and Wild Turkey tracks in my front yard; Red-tailed, Swainson’s, Cooper’s and Sharp-shinned Hawks who came to dine and several Great Horned Owls who seemed to come to just watch. I also discovered it is folly to feed blackbirds, pretty as they are.

I discovered a bird I’d never even heard of, and celebrated when I identified it as an American Redstart…which I’d never seen anywhere else. Once, I posted a photograph of a very tiny little female hummingbird and set of a Rare-bird Alert throughout the community when ‘Anonymous’ insisted it was a female Calloipe Hummingbird in Colorado…very early in May! I quickly learned the network of birders.

I discovered and got pictures of Lazuli Buntings; Evening, Black-headed and Rose-breasted Grosbeaks; Western Tangiers and Bullock’s Orioles raised families near here, I watched them bring fledglings to the feeders along with White-breasted Nuthatches and both Downey and Hairy Woodpeckers; youngsters that fluttered and begged to ever patient parents.

I learned the Lesser Goldfinch with its dark-black head and black is not at all ‘lesser’ than the American Goldfinch; its a stunning and exotic-looking little bird. I remembered the cackling, calling sound I heard only once before and looked up to see a bunch of Sand-hill Cranes flying high over my home. I tracked a bird-call for days to finally discover what was most likely a Western Wood-pewee. I watched nestlings and their parents at the local golf course.

Most recently, I discovered a White-winged Dove amongst the Eurasian- piggies…I mean collared Doves. While the bird is expanding its range…it is still fairly uncommon yet and some folks were tickled to add the bird to their lists. I also got a photo of a somewhat difficult to find bird right in my own front yard! With the help of a friend we got it identified as a Hermit Thrush. I was tickled pink.

And (!) I was invited to contribute to I and the Bird! Neat! Best of all I’ve gotten to know a whole bunch of really neat people both on the trail and on line, I've gone out and seen even more awesome birds around Colorado and I’ve learned a lot. Blogging just sets it in stone, so to speak. LOL

December Yard Birds included: American Robin, White-breasted Nuthatch, Sharp-shinned Hawk, Northern Flicker - Red-shafted, White-winged Dove, European Starling, Common Raven, Mountain Chickadee, Gray-crowned Rosy-finch, American Crow, Chipping Sparrow, Red-tailed Hawk, Red-winged Blackbird, Hairy Woodpecker, Song Sparrow, Downy Woodpecker, Dark-eyed Junco - Oregon, Pink-sided, Slate and Gray-headed, Pine Siskin, Blue Jay, American Goldfinch, Eurasian Collared-Dove, House Finch - red, yellow and orange variants, Black-billed Magpie, House Sparrow.

All photos are mine. LOL...can you tell?
Someday I'll have a decent lens.


Kitt said...

That's an awesome start, I'd say! If I could get my act together enough to set up a feeding station, I'll bet I'd have all kinds of interesting fowl here. But only if I can also figure out how to keep the damn pigeons off it.

Here's to a year of many more sightings for you!

Beverly said...

You could keep the pigeons away by only offering seed in Finch feeders. I get a mix (which other than for finches, is not recommended!) of seed to keep the cost down. I use thistle (also called nyjer and niger), blended with canary seed and sunflower seed chips. I’ve also discovered the sock-feeders attract the *%$#! squirrels who tear them up; go with the hard-plastic feeders with the tiny, thin holes either above or below short perches.

You could also offer food from feeders other than platform feeders; perhaps cylindrical feeders. A hopper feeder might work IF the landing spot is built only for smaller birds. Such a feeder could attract black-birds however, and they toss seed everywhere and you’ll have the pigeons feeding under the feeders.. If one keeps the landing places either vertical (like tube feeders without perches) or the perches quite short then larger birds like pigeons cannot use the feeder.

Whatever you offer, don’t offer those cheap ‘wild-bird mixes’ filled with milo or even millet and cracked corn. Grackles, blackbirds, doves, pigeons are seriously attracted by those seeds. Believe me…as I just mentioned, I learned the hard way trying to attract the Yellow-headed Blackbirds. Keep the seed off the ground.

Suet feeders also are great for lots of birds, yet the pigeons seem to ignore them. Perhaps because of the way the suet is dispensed; again…pigeons cannot hang on such feeders.

Heh heh heh…I had all this at the tips of my fingers because I’m working on a bird-feeding, habitat-creating, gardening-for-birds sort of series! Lordy, I do go off on tangents, don’t I? I do hope folks find it entertaining!

Nice to see you visit, Kitt, Thanks.

NW Nature Nut said...

That was a nice post. You sure have seen and learned a lot in 2008. Who knows what is to come? Happy New Year!

Beverly said...

Ah well…I’ve been having fun! It looks like the refinancing of my home is going to make 2009 a little easier for me; at least I’ll be able to afford the gas to get out and about more. While I adore sitting in my kitchen and looking out through the bay windows into my yard and the feeders I keep and ‘my birds’ who visit…I need to do more birding elsewhere, too. Perhaps I can have my camera looked at although quite frankly I’d rather have a pond! LOL

That will be in an upcoming post, too. Check it out…there was a root-cellar just out back on which the bears caved the roof trying for the mealy apples from an old tree that stood nearby. When I lived in Denver (and had the money) I built a lovely Koi pond that I just loved. I plan to make use of the free hole I’ve got out back here and build another pond…sans fish. I’ve been doing research (imagine that) and have discovered fish will raise havoc with amphibians, not to mention dragonflies and their nymphs; both of which keep down any mosquitoes that happen to hatch.

Yeah, this year should be a blast. Happy New Year to you two, too!

lkw said...

What an excellent reflection of a birding year! I hope the coming year is equally enriching.

I'm so impressed with ALL that you've observed; it reminds me to focus a bit more on birds again (I get off on tangents, too.)

Happy New Year!


Beverly said...

IKW, you're back! Oh, I can't tell you how much I enjoyed the colorful photographs you posted while on your trip to Italy. Wow...the food, the architecture, the history; I sometimes wish I had the money to travel to Europe. I’m not much of one to stand in lines to view even world-class monuments…but walking by the offerings of outside food vendors followed by a light rustic lunch and a glass of local wine at some cafĂ© I found after wandering the town would be absolute heaven to me. And I almost felt right there with you as you told us about your trip. Spectacular! Thank you so much.

Focus more on birds? Why, when you have gardening and food as equal pleasures? I like your tangents!

Happy New Year, Lisa!

Debbie said...

Beverly, you are truly an inspiration to me. I have learned so much from reading your posts.

All the best (of birding, etc) in 2009.

Beverly said...

Debbie, you are very kind. Sometimes I remind myself of an over enthusiastic puppy, but I think I sometimes come of as some sort of know-it-all. Mostly, I enjoy learning all this stuff and writing about it helps. Sharing what I learn is a way of learning too, and more about that joy than anything else. LOL

Happy New Year to you too, Debbie!

Bosque Bill said...

Happy New Birding Year, Beverly!

Nice post and I liked YOUR photos.

Here's a link to my "Bigby" green, carbon-neutral birding year featuring my yard (sitting and walking) and the bosque (walking and bicycling) just in case you are interested in birds along the middle Rio Grande valley at an elevation of 5000'.

Bosque Bill's 2008 Bigby List

RuthieJ said...

Geez, Beverly, I'm so jealous.....yellow-headed blackbirds and lazuli buntings at your backyard feeders? That's so amazing! I look forward to seeing more of your Colorado birds in 2009.

Beverly said...

Happy New Year to you too, Bill. It’s nice to see you got home apparently without incident (bad weather). It snowed here from Saturday night, after a beautifully sunny day, through Sunday. I have an absolutely LOVELY powder outside that just brushed off the truck with a broom! Besides…it brought a Pink Butt and more White-throated sparrows!

Actually, I’m dreaming of a plant-buying trip to Sante Fe (they have lots of native plants at High Country Gardens!) and thought, if I can swing it, I might just give birding in Abq. a try. Your Bosque sounds and looks like so much fun…I sometimes wonder if you’re not on the Tourist Board there! LOL

I think it’s awesome that you see wrens and creepers and bushtits…I’ve never seen a one on my own. But that you have Blue Grosbeaks is totally awesome. A woman I work with says she has them one town over…but she’s lower, further from the mountains and south, to boot.

I remember nighthawks on the trail up to my cabin…amazing birds, huh? And I sometimes saw Gambel’s quail, too…but not here. Yet :D

Nor have I seen Red-breasted Nuthatch or Pygmy nuthatches here…though I’ve seen them in So Co.

Ya know, near here are “the town lakes” where I’ve seen Bald Eagles, Great Blue Herons and Black-crowned Night-herons…as well as who knows what ducks! I don’t think it’s a particularly good birding area though, for some reason…but I really should find a way to bird Lathrop State Park without buying a darn pass. Or perhaps with this re-fi…I should BUY a pass! Heh, heh, heh. Yeah, that’s the ticket!!!

I’m thinking I need to add up all my birds…. OMG I’m becoming a lister!

Thanks for visiting, Bill!!!

Beverly said...

LOL, isn’t it cool how we all have somewhat different birds, Ruthie? It makes visiting friends so much fun!

That bunting…at first I thought it was a Blue Bird, but it was so small and it had eyes like the Juncos! Yet another bird it took awhile to ID.

The Yellow-heads are fun…bigger than the other Blackbirds I see. You might like a post I did back near the end of April: Another New Yard Bird, when I discovered the evil Cow Bird… ugh
I had to quit feeding blackbirds…and pigeons, and grackles, and starlings.

To read this flurry of responses, one might think you all prefer my own little stories rather than all the research. Well, I’ll try to include more now that things are looking better financially; but the research is just too much fun…for me.

Thanks for stopping by again, Ruthie…and Happy New Year!!!

[Trouble again with links to my own posts...(the URL ends in .html and I guess this program doesn't like that?), just check out April '08 posts. Sorry]