Posts Tagged With: yard birds

Yard bird #110!

Wow, am I ever glad I went outside! While watching a male American Redstart atop the apple tree, I saw another bird winging in. At first I thought it was a Green Heron, but the wingbeats were too rapid, and as it neared I could see a distinctive tern-like bend in the wings. It flew right overhead, not much higher than the tops of the spruce trees — a dark bird, with — YES — white slashes on the wings! 

Common Nighthawk! I’ve been out every evening for over a week looking for them in migration. What a piece of luck — a few seconds before I’d been standing underneath the tree and would have missed it entirely.

I walked up the tower road to look for more Nighthawks. No luck with them, but I scored a serene sunset.

In case you’re curious about the view from the top of Kestrel Hill, here you go.



Categories: scenery, Species count, Yard first | Tags: , , , , | 1 Comment

The usual suspects, part III

When I hear a Pileated Woodpecker drumming or calling, I look up. That’s not always the right direction — Pileateds are often found at the base of rotting trees, excavating the ant larvae they love so much. This handsome fellow was tossing chips about and ‘wuk-wuk-wuk’ing at top volume.

We’re so fortunate to have these spectacular birds regularly dine at the dead trees in our swamp. If you have a dead tree that’s not in a problematic location, let it stand! Who knows who will call it home?

Categories: bird behavior, Bird photos | Tags: , , , , , , | 3 Comments

The usual suspects, part II

Common Grackles are blackbirds. That means they’re black birds, right?


Look again!


Amazing what a difference a change in perspective makes.


ETA: I will be chasing the Barrow’s Goldeneye tomorrow. AGAIN. Is the third time the charm? Stay tuned!

Categories: Bird photos, Feeder birds, Usual suspects | Tags: , , , , | 1 Comment

Snow day

The view from Kestrel Hill today is horizon-to-horizon snow. 18 inches on top of half a foot already on the ground — that’s a whole world of white.

We had a new roof installed last year, a metal roof. You’ll love it, the  builder assured us, no maintenance and the snow just slides right off! And just as promised, for the several moderate snows we’ve had, the roof clears itself quite efficiently.

Well, this was the first heavy snowfall of the season. And it was impressive, all right: a full rolling broadside as the entire front thundered down. Maybe too impressive! The sleeping cat shot off my shoulder and into the basement. As for me, every time it happens I have to laugh, it’s so exhilarating.

One small problem. I hope no one’s standing on the stoop next time it cuts loose!

Is this the year our reprehensible shed will finally collapse? (One can only hope!)


Since I wasn’t going anywhere anyway, I worked at my Great Backyard Bird Count. I had lots of help:


Lots of couples out for lunch, including the Cardinals.



House Finches…



… and Purple Finches. You wouldn’t believe how many years it took me to tell them apart.



40 or more Robins in the sumac grove.



Two Song Sparrows have stuck it out all season. Angry Birds, anyone?



As well as two Carolina Wrens.

I don’t know how we’ll scale those mountains to keep the feeders full, but I’d hate to disappoint the patrons.






Categories: Bird photos, Feeder birds, GBBC, Usual suspects | Tags: , , , , , , , | 4 Comments

Smudgy window birds

The snow is falling heavily now. By the time it’s done we should have a new foot over the snowpack already on the ground.

The feeders are teeming. A few diners, taken through my smudgy front window:




A pastel American Goldfinch.


I love the huge eyes of a Tufted Titmouse.


“I know there’s seed somewhere down here…


Ah! There it is!”




Categories: Bird photos, Feeder birds, Usual suspects | Tags: , , , | 4 Comments

Porch birding

Despite temps in the low 20s, the bright sunshine made it feel quite mild this afternoon. So I bundled up to refill the feeders, a slow process one-handed and in new snow. After dragging a chair to the porch, I slid the door open to enjoy fresh air and birdsong. One of the pair of Carolina Wrens rattled in the woods and a Tufted Titmouse “peter peter”ed.

With the camera set up on a tripod, I was able to snap a few shots.

Mr. Downy Woodpecker helps himself to some suet.



He’s ready for Valentine’s Day with that crimson heart on his nape.

His Mrs., or somebody’s, waits her turn. At least 5 Downys cycled in and out.



The Dark-eyed Juncos appreciated the return of their buffet tables.



So, nothing out of the ordinary, just a pleasant afternoon visit with the neighbors.

Categories: Bird photos, Feeder birds, Usual suspects | Tags: , , , | 5 Comments

#105: Palm Warbler

Yard bird #105 this morning was a Palm Warbler. In its subdued fall plumage, the most distinctive field marks are the bright yellow undertail coverts, and its tail in a constant state of twitch.

He was part of a small flurry of migrants and locals including our pair of Carolina Wrens (who, thank the Lord of All Birds, have finally stopped singing at dawn outside my window), a House Wren, Ruby-crowned Kinglet frenetically foraging, Downy and Hairy Woodpeckers at the suet, White- and Red-breasted Nuthatches ditto, a squalling Gray Catbird, a Song Sparrow, and the usual Chickadees and Goldfinches. Five minutes of intense activity, and they all flitted off to the next buffet.

Here’s a nice view of the warbler in fall.

Categories: bird behavior, Yard first | Tags: , , , , | 4 Comments

Ovenbirds at the door

I heard a light bang at the screen door this morning and when I looked out an Ovenbird was crouched on the stoop, looking stunned. I didn’t want to frighten it more so I kept the door shut and watched out for predators. I saw movement in the bushes which revealed itself to be a second Ovenbird. It moved nervously through the rhododendron and across the steps until the stunned bird regained its feet and hopped into the bushes too. Here’s hoping it can stay safely undercover until it regains its wits.

Ovenbird keeping watch.

Ovenbird keeping watch.

I couldn’t hear with the door shut but it must have been making distress calls. A few chickadees swept in to investigate.


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


At some point, it’s going to sink in to this guy that what he has here is not a lawn but a wet meadow. Hopefully before his tractor sinks in first.

Here at Kestrel Hill we’ve taken on a long-term lawn reduction program. It’s simple, really — whatever sprouts up, mow around. In 20 years or so that cone planted by a squirrel will be a 15′ pine. Birds will merrily poop seeds everywhere. Before you know it, you’ve got a young jungle of honeysuckle, autumn olive, brambles, and multiflora rose. Oh, and poison ivy. Did you know it has delicious berries? As far as birds are concerned it does, and they’re happy to spread it all around. And when that happens —

I’ve been called a chainsaw gardener. That’s not quite accurate. I don’t own a chainsaw. But I do have a collection of clippers loppers and saws sized from snipping individual leaves, to ‘OK, sucker, you’re goin’ down!’ Everything gets hauled off to our brush row, currently over 4 feet tall and some 30 feet long, edging the squidgy border of the swamp. That’s where I saw a mink one spring day, catching  and cacheing frogs.

We leave enough and more for catbirds to build their untidy nests, for rabbits and woodchucks to hide in, for snakes and mice and stray cats. I harvest a handful of raspberries and leave the rest for the critters. I should probably cut away the vines helping to pull down the old shed, but then I’d be depriving the hummingbirds of their trumpet vines, and waxwings, robins, and turkeys of their wild grapes. Yes, I mow around milkweed. (Not thistles, though. Those suckers goin’ down).

Who needs a lawn, anyway? As long as it’s green and painless to walk across, that’s good enough for me.

This mild-mannered rant inspired by this post at 10000 Birds and my friends’ adoption of new lawnmowers.

Categories: Mammals too, scenery, Why? | Tags: , , , , | 5 Comments

#104: Wheep!

Yard Bird #104 was a Great Crested Flycatcher wheep!ing vigorously from the spruce trees in the front yard.

Since I couldn’t get a picture of him, here’s an American Redstart in its fall lemon-drop plumage.

American Redstart

American Redstart

Categories: Bird photos, Yard first | Tags: , , , , | Leave a comment

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