Sunday, January 31, 2010

A Lovely Day in the Neighborhood

Of course you know I’m counting birds…for Project FeederWatch. That is not as big a deal as it sounds…just look out the same window or sit in about the same place in your yard and view your ‘counting area’. Your counting area can be your yard, edged by a fence, your yard and the big trees that surround it (which is what I do), a field you can view from the same spot regularly…or a pond or a lake or a river or a patio. And you don’t actually count birds all day; you merely record the largest number of a particular species you see at one time; the idea being that way you will never count the same bird twice!

I managed to get a shot of that silly Magpie going after the suet feeder. Apparently the 'fat-worms' are just an appetizer...this guy actually manages to hang upside down from this feeder; tail spread, wings flapping like some guy who has slipped on a banana peel. But I've never caught it. It must embarrass him when I get out the camera, because he always takes off in a hurry!

As I watched a bunch of big, black birds gather in a tree; it is not unusual to see as many as 5 or more crows at any one time…but as I watched, more and more big black birds arrived to join the other agitated birds. Yes, it seemed I was watching a ‘mobbing’ where many birds will harass a predator; usually an owl or a hawk. As I watched, many birds came and some would leave…but I never did find the object of their ire. Course, I didn’t try…had I gone out and into the alley under the tree I surely would have been the straw that brought the whole scenario to an end. I didn’t want to do that and my reward was…more than 50 big black birds in that tree! There were also 13 Black-billed Magpies on one branch, joining the ruckus. These big Corvids seemed less than half the size of the black ones…so either I was watching a mixed bag or this was a tree full of Ravens! Awesome. I have enjoyed watching a single crow dine with a couple of magpies right outside my back door; and while I could see the crow may be heavier, the magpie was every bit as long…and perhaps taller. While the tree was just too far for me to get really a good look at details, I’m convinced these were the larger Raven.

All day Thursday and Friday morning I watched as many as 200 Rosy-Finches feed in my yard. I was surprised to find just two Black Rosies feeding alone yesterday…along side House Finches and Evening Grosbeaks. I’ve never seen anything but large flocks of those the Rosies. Generally, perhaps because they like to feed so closely together, I get lots of photos of them on the ground in a huge mass. Yesterday I took a picture of a tree they use in-between forays to the ground. Just look at all those pink-butts!

And while I’ve not looked for it and haven’t noticed it in a week or so, I did clearly see a single White-winged Dove today, too. I wonder if this is the same bird that’s been around for so long and why, like the one who froze its feet and disappeared, does it hang around with the Eurasian Collared-Doves? I’ve done some research and doubt they cross; White-winged Doves are actually more closely related to Mourning Doves; which cannot cross with Eurasians. Unfortunately, I seldom find the much smaller Mourning Dove in my yard, anymore.

I'm tickled to say adding peanuts to the flatbed feeder has brought a few more Blue Jays to my yard, too. Sometimes I see three or four at one time; but so far very few Steller's and never a Scrub or Pinion Jay. I'm bound and determined to get a fruiting evergreen for them, the robins and perhaps Cedar Waxings!

I did see one of the Song Sparrows that feeds under the thistle feeder with all the juncos and across the yard one of the Cassin’s Finches with that pale, pale belly who feeds with the House Finches at the Sunflower Seed feeder.

I quit putting out the acorn-sized kibble I offered to the magpies along with the fat-worms and peanuts-in-the-shell for the Blue Jays. A Lewis’s Woodpecker which is not a bird usually drawn to feeders, had decided the kibble (a large-sized kibble for my very big dog) was a great food source and claimed ownership of my yard. This guy was pretty scrappy and mixed it up with everybody from magpies to flickers to starlings, as well as the Downy and Hairy Woodpeckers I like to have visit. The only other person who’s had them to her yard told me Lewis’s will drive off even the chickadees and nuthatches…and so I’ve quit the kibble offerings. And yet, still he comes…though he forages further, now and spends less time here. While he seems to ignore the fat-worms, the Lewis’s does like the caged, suet-feeder.

Today, I had a huge flock of Evening Grosbeaks in the yard. There are often as many as twenty of these beauties at and under the feeders, but today I’ve watched more than fifty at a time…more than I could easily count. I had to guestimate how many ‘blocks’ of ten birds I could see…and even while more birds arrived, I counted at least five blocks before they all took off for the trees. This makes me so happy, as I’ve read the Evening Grosbeak is on a decline.


Bosque Bill said...

Very nice posting, Beverly. I especially liked the tree'o'rosies.

Beverly said...

LOL I think we ALL especially like the rosies!

What do ya think of that Lewis's?

Good to see ya here! Thanks...

Bosque Bill said...

The Lewis's is very cool - I've never seen one, myself, but I'm just as glad I don't have one lording it over the yard. This Northern Flicker who has learned to use the suet feeder is pig enough for me.

Beverly said...

LOL Did you see where the Flickers in my yard have learned to lap the tiny seed from a finch-feeder? Yup...and now the Downies do the same! Sheeshhhhhhhhhh...

I really don't mind, though I'm certainly not gonna encourage that Lewis's! They are around this area (though usually not IN town), but usually leave around November. It's kinda cool...but a bully is even worse than piggies, I think.

Have fun today!