Posts Tagged With: very cute birds

Losing my mojo

I’m finding it difficult to keep up my motivation for the year’s end. There’s been a lot of RealLife™ going on. No club trips scheduled, I’ve missed a month of Thursday Birders, and (believe it or not!) I’m getting a bit tired of birding alone. No winter raptors, no winter finches. I hope the upcoming Christmas Bird Count season can shake me out of the doldrums.

I try to console myself with some Green-winged Teal.

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Oh well — it’s a balmy 26F with no gale force winds, so before the scheduled mid-week snowpocalypse I’m off along the rivers hunting for anomalous gulls.  It’s the only game in town now!

 

Categories: Bird photos | Tags: , , , , | 2 Comments

Birdhouse in your soul

The new addition to my feeder collection was a gift from my friends — a birdhouse coated in seed. After it’s been stripped bare, I’ll mount it on a tree and see who takes up residence.

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Notice I come from the ‘Leave the weeds standing’ school of lawn care.

Soundtrack by They Might Be Giants.

Categories: Bird photos, Feeder birds | Tags: , , , , , | 2 Comments

Blame Canada

Canada (not Canadian!) Goose flocks, because they’re so vast, often have a few oddballs in the bunch. This one had a white face, which didn’t seem to bother its companion.

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Notice the big booty on this one. There’s likely some domestic goose in its ancestry.

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Trying to figure out all 11 subspecies is enough to give anyone fits. Go on, just try to read through that without crying. Not too long ago, the four smallest varieties were broken off as a separate species, the Cackling Goose. So of course, we’re all looking for tiny Canada-types so we can add a new lifer!

A reliable source spotted a Cackling Goose on Collins Lake yesterday, so this morning in the teeth of a howling wind I scanned the water, searching for that elusive little guy. I thought I had it…

Ceci n'est pas une oie caqueter.

Ceci n’est pas une oie caqueter.

… but nope. Just a small Canada.

If the gale dies down I’ll stop back tomorrow and peer through 700 geese to find that special one. If only they were all as obvious as in that top picture!

Categories: Bird photos, Field trip | Tags: , , , , , | Leave a comment

Bleach-blond redhead

Anticipating the first chilly morning, I filled all my feeders last night. I’m glad I did. Among the usual suspects at breakfast buffet, I saw this eccentric fellow.

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It’s a partially leucistic House Finch.

I’m always looking for leucistic birds, but this is the first time I’ve been able to get a photo. A few years ago an American Robin with ‘racing stripes’ – white feathers in its wings – visited the yard for a day, and I’ve seen mottled Robins on the Cornell campus. There’s a stunning white Red-tailed Hawk (frequently mistaken for a Snowy Owl) in the area, but it often hangs out on the I-90 bridge when I’m zipping past at 60. Maybe someday I’ll be fortuitously stuck in traffic!

Browse through Google images for leucistic birds and delight your eyes. Common birds, many of them, made stunning by a chance mutation. Of them all, my favorite is the calico red-winged blackbird seen by Nancy Nabak.

Categories: Bird photos, Feeder birds, Rara avis, What am dat bird? | Tags: , , , , , , | 3 Comments

If it’s Tuesday this must be Newcomb; or, a whirlwind tour of the ADKs

 

At 4:00 AM my alarm went off. At 4:02, a second alarm, just in case… Only for you, birds. Only for you. I grabbed my gear and stumbled off into the still-dark morning, the only sound the unwearying Carolina Wren. We met at our rendezvous, and then up to the North Country for a long day birding.

I don’t often see Common Loons in full breeding plumage. They’re usually in plainer winter garb while passing through the local lakes. On Little Tupper Lake, we watched two preen and dive.

Sabattis Circle Road paid off immediately. A Broad-winged Hawk carrying prey exited fast, pursued by Blue Jays. At least a dozen warbler species, four thrushes, and an assortment of sparrows and vireos serenaded us. When we stopped, within minutes some Gray Jays squabbled by (more on those later!). After a family of Yellow-bellied Sapsuckers moved through, we were almost complacently dismissive of another woodpecker, until we realized its solid dark back marked it as one of our target species for the day — Black-backed Woodpecker. Lifer!

In the background we’d been hearing a flycatcher sound off — che-bek, che-bek. Or was it? More of a che-LEK? We fine-tuned our ears and confirmed — Yellow bellied Flycatcher. Second life bird of the day!

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We could easily have spent the rest of the morning walking along the road, listening to bird song and examining the bog plant life.

But we had plenty of place to go yet. Off to Paul Smiths Visitor Interpretive Center!

I hadn’t been here in 25 years and the place has certainly changed. I want to move in…

Another place you could easily spend a day or more wandering the trails, but we just took a quick look across Heron Marsh for possible waders. No luck, so we broke for lunch at Steve’s hot dog wagon. Don’t be a meanie, buy a weenie! How could we resist?

Next stop was Bloomingdale Bog and its famous performing Gray Jays. The way it works is, on the way in the trail, you place your offering on the altar — or, toss some nuts on the platform feeder. By the time you head back, the jays have passed the word and they’ll be waiting for you. Offer food on your palm and they’ll fly in and grab it. I had one immature Gray Jay swoop in for walnuts, and I was so excited I couldn’t even think of trying to use my camera. I was one of the lucky few — the birds might have been unnerved by our numbers (a dozen) and the quantity of treats offered. Where to go first??

Oddball sighting of the day — this Vesper Sparrow, normally seen in grassland areas like shorn fields and airports. What was it doing here?

Bird life was quieting down as the day heated up, so I switched my focus to insects.

Our final destination was Intervale Lowlands, in Lake Placid. How I wish we’d had a whole day here, too! The 160 acre preserve is intensively managed and monitored to study population,weather and habitat changes and visitors are encouraged to share their observations to build up the databank.

So now I’m planning out a multi-day excursion for next year, giving all those sites (and others!) the time and attention they deserve.

Categories: bird behavior, Bird photos, Field trip, flowers, insects, Life bird!, New bird, Rara avis, scenery | Tags: , , , , , , , , , , , | 1 Comment

Fine Homebuilding

 

Last year I observed Black-capped Chickadees nesting in an old fence post. Today I had a chance to watch them at work excavating the hole.

They started with a rotten Sumac about 6″ in diameter, broken off a few feet from the ground. Nice punky wood in the middle. They had obviously been working at this for a while.

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In for a landing —

IMG_5607_16 Dive!

IMG_5609_14 It’s a full bird deep!

IMG_5608_14 Aaaaand out, with a beakful of wood.

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Repeat, taking turns, until the photographer gets too intrusive. They scolded me and after my retreat to the car, it was back to work.

Categories: Bird photos, Nests | Tags: , , , , | 2 Comments

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