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Any fellow birders here?


Pink Elephant
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If you have an iPhone or Android phone you should download the Cornell iBird app.  It is super helpful in identifying birds.  My buddy uses the app to "call" to birds to draw them out.  He used one of the hawk calls to scare another hawk away from his chickens.  LOL!

 

I swear by the Cornell site! Absolutely stupendous it is!

 

Love your friends approach!

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I've always wondered how that works.  Do certain flocks have certain migratory routes with set  "rest areas"?  So are the swans I see out by the race track (which is where I see them) the same ones each year?  Are those the same flock that you might see at the beach?  Or are they separate groups flying separate flight plans?  And I wonder what makes a rest area appealing to them?  Since I always see them in the same fields I assume there is something there, vegetation, the presence of big puddly areas, that are appealing to them.  Was the fact that there were so few last year because the population is down as a whole?  Or just in that flock?  Or did they not like the puddles last year and instead stopped somewhere else where I couldn't see?  I wish I could get in there and interview those birds to get the "rest of the story"!  

 

I wish I could answer your questions, jean, but I'm still learning, too. One thing I do know, some birds (typical migratory species) seek different paths when it comes to coming and going. 

 

Take for instance the Dark Eyed Junco. Though the Junco is a migratory species, some Juncos don't migrate at all, while others migrate only a short distance, and then of course there is the extreme end of the scale where a good number migrate great distances. Same holds true for Blue Jays and certain Sparrow specifies as well, just to name a few.

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I'm spending the winter learning bird songs! I bought a couple bird song CDs, and am finally placing some of the calls that have mystified me. If you're in the Midwest or eastern states, Bird Song Ear Training Guide: Who Cooks for Poor Sam Peabody? is my favorite. My kids are even picking up the calls.

 

Lately we've been watching (among the million house sparrows) chickadees, tufted titmice, nuthatches, and juncos come to the feeder and the ground beneath it. It's amusing to watch the differences in how each bird eats.

 

The nice part about the many species you name, is that all get along quite well together. One Species I know of (from experience) that bullies the Junco and Song Sparrow, is the White-Crowned Sparrow. Thankfully their time in our area is limited, as they arrive in late September and are usually gone by late October, so a month or so in all. Even then I cringe when I see them put the run on the others.

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I'm spending the winter learning bird songs! I bought a couple bird song CDs, and am finally placing some of the calls that have mystified me. If you're in the Midwest or eastern states, Bird Song Ear Training Guide: Who Cooks for Poor Sam Peabody? is my favorite. My kids are even picking up the calls.

 

Lately we've been watching (among the million house sparrows) chickadees, tufted titmice, nuthatches, and juncos come to the feeder and the ground beneath it. It's amusing to watch the differences in how each bird eats.

You need an Audubon bird clock. We have one, although DH dropped it and it doesn't chirp anymore. It's a wonderful clock and it chirps different bird calls on the hour. I love it. I need to replace it. Again. The one we have is a replacement for the first one that got broken. And you can tell that I love this clock because I rarely replace things that get broken. I'm too cheap. But I love this clock!

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You need an Audubon bird clock. We have one, although DH dropped it and it doesn't chirp anymore. It's a wonderful clock and it chirps different bird calls on the hour. I love it. I need to replace it. Again. The one we have is a replacement for the first one that got broken. And you can tell that I love this clock because I rarely replace things that get broken. I'm too cheap. But I love this clock!

Hmmm.  Did dh drop it both times?  Perhaps he's trying to tell you something!

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Hmmm.  Did dh drop it both times?  Perhaps he's trying to tell you something!

Lol! No, it's always been in the wrong place. The first time it was over the door, the door got slammed, clock fell off and smashed. The second time.... hmmm, it's getting suspicious, now that I think about it because he was doing something like removing the battery or something like that and the chimes got broken. He claims it "was just an accident". ;) The clock still works, just not the chimes.

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I had some photos from several years back in which a nest in our porch basket was supplanted by a parasitic baby. Maybe a Cowbird? I'm not sure. It was far bigger than the nest-mates. Another time, there was a nest with a few small eggs in it, then an invader egg, then all the eggs were exiled (i guess) from the nest. They were all smashed about the porch. I wondered if the would-be foster parents rejected all the eggs after the invader egg arrived, or if a different catastrophe happened.

 

Yep, those were Brown-headed Cowbirds laying eggs in your nests. The larger egg is the cowbird. One strategy some species have is to ditch the whole clutch of eggs and start again. Usually they just put more nesting material over them and bury them. Sometimes it is the adult cowbird female (mom) who comes back and ejects some of the host species eggs. Getting rid of all of them isn't conducive to the host parents continuing to sit on the cowbird egg, so it is a bit strange they were all on the ground. Maybe it was the host parents. Did they renest in the same nest or was it abandoned?

 

Once the cowbird young hatches it often kicks out the other (host) nestlngs. Cowbirds are fascinating, but have a really bad rep.

 

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We are not "Birders", but we live in a Tropical Valley, in a rural subdivision. There are approximately 50 species of birds who live in our subdivision, at least part of the year. In the nearest mountains (the base of those mountanis is approximately 10 air miles from our house) there are approximately 500 species of birds. I forget the exact numbers... Someone from the Colombian government Conservation department, or from our "Department" (Valle del Cauca) gave a talk to our Homeowners Association about this several years ago.

 

Among the visitors to our house, we have Canaries who are wild who come down into our inner  patio to eat seeds my wife puts out for them and to drink water. There is a flock of approximately 50 Parrots in our subdivision. Occasionally, they will fly over our house or sit in our backyard and they make a lot of noise. There are other species who come to our house. My wife has counted 8 or 10 species in our backyard at the same time as I recall.

 

My belief is that there are more birds here when it is our "Winter" (rainy season) and fewer when it is dry ("Summer").

 

A few days ago, during a very heavy downpour, our Parrot was in the inner patio getting wet. She had her wings spread wide open and was having a great time, getting drenched...  BTW, Parrots are protected here. We were given this one and she was too old to release into the wild. She had been a pet in a cage before we got her and it is unlikely she would survive if we released her. We had released 2 Parrots we were given a few years ago and we believe one of them is now a member of the large flock of Parrots in our subdivision.

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Lanny, when I was a kid, I used to look through my grandfather's birding books and lament that all the pretty birds were in South America. :D I remember thinking how totally magical it would be to see parrots out the window every day.

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You need an Audubon bird clock. We have one, although DH dropped it and it doesn't chirp anymore. It's a wonderful clock and it chirps different bird calls on the hour. I love it. I need to replace it. Again. The one we have is a replacement for the first one that got broken. And you can tell that I love this clock because I rarely replace things that get broken. I'm too cheap. But I love this clock!

 

I second the Audubon clock!

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Lol! No, it's always been in the wrong place. The first time it was over the door, the door got slammed, clock fell off and smashed. The second time.... hmmm, it's getting suspicious, now that I think about it because he was doing something like removing the battery or something like that and the chimes got broken. He claims it "was just an accident". ;) The clock still works, just not the chimes.

 

I sense something sneaky going on. LOL!

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Yep, those were Brown-headed Cowbirds laying eggs in your nests. The larger egg is the cowbird. One strategy some species have is to ditch the whole clutch of eggs and start again. Usually they just put more nesting material over them and bury them. Sometimes it is the adult cowbird female (mom) who comes back and ejects some of the host species eggs. Getting rid of all of them isn't conducive to the host parents continuing to sit on the cowbird egg, so it is a bit strange they were all on the ground. Maybe it was the host parents. Did they renest in the same nest or was it abandoned?

 

Once the cowbird young hatches it often kicks out the other (host) nestlngs. Cowbirds are fascinating, but have a really bad rep.

 

 

Love the info!

 

Another bird that has earned a bad rep is the House Sparrow. What people need to remember is, birds are wild and have a genetic predisposition to do what they do, there's no controlling or changing that, so when I hear of people trapping and killing House Sparrows, because they're such a "nasty" species, I think to myself, if we all took it upon ourselves to cleanse the wild kingdom of species that do what they were born to do, our world would be a pretty lonely and quiet place.

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We are not "Birders", but we live in a Tropical Valley, in a rural subdivision. There are approximately 50 species of birds who live in our subdivision, at least part of the year. In the nearest mountains (the base of those mountanis is approximately 10 air miles from our house) there are approximately 500 species of birds. I forget the exact numbers... Someone from the Colombian government Conservation department, or from our "Department" (Valle del Cauca) gave a talk to our Homeowners Association about this several years ago.

 

Among the visitors to our house, we have Canaries who are wild who come down into our inner  patio to eat seeds my wife puts out for them and to drink water. There is a flock of approximately 50 Parrots in our subdivision. Occasionally, they will fly over our house or sit in our backyard and they make a lot of noise. There are other species who come to our house. My wife has counted 8 or 10 species in our backyard at the same time as I recall.

 

My belief is that there are more birds here when it is our "Winter" (rainy season) and fewer when it is dry ("Summer").

 

A few days ago, during a very heavy downpour, our Parrot was in the inner patio getting wet. She had her wings spread wide open and was having a great time, getting drenched...  BTW, Parrots are protected here. We were given this one and she was too old to release into the wild. She had been a pet in a cage before we got her and it is unlikely she would survive if we released her. We had released 2 Parrots we were given a few years ago and we believe one of them is now a member of the large flock of Parrots in our subdivision.

 

I've always dreamed of a tropical holiday, and being able to enjoy such a variety of tropical birds would be a dream come true for me!

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We caught a bird once - it was obviously escaped from someone's house as it was not a native bird to our area.  I caught it in a butterfly net.  We ended up keeping it because no one answered our "Found bird" posters.  I've always wondered what species it was - it was something like a parakeet but it isn't a kind of bird that I've seen in US pet stores.  Japanese pet stores have different varieties of birds as well as selling animals like chipmunks (we had six over the years) that you cannot get in the US.  

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My DH is the birder in our family.  He's been birding for over 20 years and has a "lifetime list" and lists from everywhere we've lived (military family). We have nine different feeders in our yard.  We've visited the Cornell Ornithological Lab in New York.  I highly recommend a visit if you can get there.  THe highlight is "Sapsucker Woods" which has trails through it and several habitats, so MANY different types of birds. They also have several different "bird cams" throughout the year available for viewing online.  Every February the Lab runs the "Great Backyard Bird Count" over Presidents' Day weekend.  It tallies bird info from all of the world.  If you want to take part check it out here - http://gbbc.birdcount.org.  They also have Webinars about different birds available.  You can watch them live or see the archived ones.  I gave my husband the gift of five webinars for Christmas. I'm always on the lookout for bird related gifts and it's challenging because I long ago exhausted feeders and usual bird gifts.

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Another bird that has earned a bad rep is the House Sparrow. What people need to remember is, birds are wild and have a genetic predisposition to do what they do, there's no controlling or changing that, so when I hear of people trapping and killing House Sparrows, because they're such a "nasty" species, I think to myself, if we all took it upon ourselves to cleanse the wild kingdom of species that do what they were born to do, our world would be a pretty lonely and quiet place.

 

Yep, House Sparrows have a bad rep too, largely because they are a non-native, invasive species throughout most of the world. They are native to Europe and Asia and cause fewer problems for species with whom they co-evolved, but they are much worse for many other species. House Sparrows are very good at what they do, including evicting other species from their nest boxes (like bluebirds), and they are even called 'Bully the English Sparrow' by Thornton Burgess. They were introduced in New York by folks wanting to bring familiar birds with them from good old London. Within 50 years, they had spread all the way to Colorado by themselves; of course they were reintroduced on the west coast later as well. Silly people...

 

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Margaret in CO, we need to visit you. My dd wants to see a mountain bluebird so badly. That and the painted bunting are her dream birds right now. Seeing either would make her very happy.

 

Does anyone else here log their daily bird sightings into ebird? Or is anyone doing project feeder watch? We've been using ebird for a few years, and this is our second year for project feeder watch. We did the nest watch this past spring/summer, too.

 

Pink Elephant, I wonder if our winter juncos could be your little guys that return to you each spring? We're always so sad to see them leave and so happy when they return.

 

We are pretty lucky because we have a nice variety of birds year round. The species just rotate with the seasons. Hummingbird migration is an especially fun time of year since our feeders are just outside the living room windows. The ruby throats are our little buddies. We always leave our nectar feeders up hoping to get a winter hummer, but so far no luck. A calliope would be incredible, but if we are ever lucky enough to get one it would most likely be a rufous or an anna's. Still, we would be happy with whatever decided to join us.

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We caught a bird once - it was obviously escaped from someone's house as it was not a native bird to our area.  I caught it in a butterfly net.  We ended up keeping it because no one answered our "Found bird" posters.  I've always wondered what species it was - it was something like a parakeet but it isn't a kind of bird that I've seen in US pet stores.  Japanese pet stores have different varieties of birds as well as selling animals like chipmunks (we had six over the years) that you cannot get in the US.  

 

Most interesting.

 

Whenever I come across stories or experiences such as yours, the thought never fails to run through my mind that maybe, for whatever unknown reason, a rare species lost it's bearings and as a result flew miles off course and through the luck of the draw, happened upon a geographical location warm enough to sustain life, even if for a time. 

 

The closest experience I had with a wild bird was when I was a young child. We had awoke one morning and outside directly in front of our glass door was a Cowbird. At first we thought it was injured, but not so. The bird had simply been drawn to the glass door due to seeing it's reflection and was perfectly fine with just sitting there and revelling in the moment.

 

When we opened the door, in it came as if it had known us forever, and without any sort of sense of caution, it proceeded to busied itself making it's rounds sitting on everyone's hands and heads! What entertainment! Especially for us kids!

 

I've never forgotten it, and never looked at Cowbirds the same since that experience, always hoping to find another just like it.

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My DH is the birder in our family.  He's been birding for over 20 years and has a "lifetime list" and lists from everywhere we've lived (military family). We have nine different feeders in our yard.  We've visited the Cornell Ornithological Lab in New York.  I highly recommend a visit if you can get there.  THe highlight is "Sapsucker Woods" which has trails through it and several habitats, so MANY different types of birds. They also have several different "bird cams" throughout the year available for viewing online.  Every February the Lab runs the "Great Backyard Bird Count" over Presidents' Day weekend.  It tallies bird info from all of the world.  If you want to take part check it out here - http://gbbc.birdcount.org.  They also have Webinars about different birds available.  You can watch them live or see the archived ones.  I gave my husband the gift of five webinars for Christmas. I'm always on the lookout for bird related gifts and it's challenging because I long ago exhausted feeders and usual bird gifts.

 

Great story! Great link! Thank you so kindly for that!

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Yep, House Sparrows have a bad rep too, largely because they are a non-native, invasive species throughout most of the world. They are native to Europe and Asia and cause fewer problems for species with whom they co-evolved, but they are much worse for many other species. House Sparrows are very good at what they do, including evicting other species from their nest boxes (like bluebirds), and they are even called 'Bully the English Sparrow' by Thornton Burgess. They were introduced in New York by folks wanting to bring familiar birds with them from good old London. Within 50 years, they had spread all the way to Colorado by themselves; of course they were reintroduced on the west coast later as well. Silly people...

 

I was reading a great article most recently that mentioned one of the few species that will stand up to the House Sparrow with determined might (related to eviction or nest taking), is the House Finch.

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Margaret in CO, we need to visit you. My dd wants to see a mountain bluebird so badly. That and the painted bunting are her dream birds right now. Seeing either would make her very happy.

 

Does anyone else here log their daily bird sightings into ebird? Or is anyone doing project feeder watch? We've been using ebird for a few years, and this is our second year for project feeder watch. We did the nest watch this past spring/summer, too.

 

Pink Elephant, I wonder if our winter juncos could be your little guys that return to you each spring? We're always so sad to see them leave and so happy when they return.

 

We are pretty lucky because we have a nice variety of birds year round. The species just rotate with the seasons. Hummingbird migration is an especially fun time of year since our feeders are just outside the living room windows. The ruby throats are our little buddies. We always leave our nectar feeders up hoping to get a winter hummer, but so far no luck. A calliope would be incredible, but if we are ever lucky enough to get one it would most likely be a rufous or an anna's. Still, we would be happy with whatever decided to join us.

 

Hi, DD!

 

I don't log or visit any online sites related to bird-watching, but with you mentioning ebird, I'm going to check it out. Thanks for that!

 

Re: the Juncos, that's what is so interesting and fun about those little guys, one just never knows, and to answer your question, it very well could be! Like yourself, I actually go through a few days of feeling blue when our Juncos leave, because from the time they arrive they play such a big part in my life. I see them and watch them every single day and you just can't help but get drawn in by their cuteness and friendliness.

 

But then it doesn't take me long to snap out of my downer, because the Nuthatches are always here, and the Finches, too, so lots of great company and entertainment, not to mention the odd stranger who drops by just for the sake of seeing what all the interest is around our feeders, and that's always so special, too.

 

Speaking of Hummingbirds, I don't know what it about them, but I always see them chasing the Blue Jays! So funny!

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There was a murder at our feeder today. Dd sent me a text while I was at work. She said, "A hawk just dove into the yard and killed a woodpecker! He flew off with it in his talons!"

 

Poor thing.

 

How sad!

 

We hear the maniacal cackling of Cooper's hawks behind our house, and sometimes see one plucking feathers off its victim, but to watch it catch a helpless little woodpecker would be traumatic.

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There was a murder at our feeder today. Dd sent me a text while I was at work. She said, "A hawk just dove into the yard and killed a woodpecker! He flew off with it in his talons!"

 

Poor thing.

 

I feel so sorry for the birds this time of the year, because with little to no foliage to take cover in or under, smaller birds are subject to attacks regularly.

 

No matter how many conversations I have with myself reminding myself that nature is what it is and will always be what it is, it is never enough to comfort me and stave off the sadness I feel when I know another bird has been gotten.

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How sad!

 

We hear the maniacal cackling of Cooper's hawks behind our house, and sometimes see one plucking feathers off its victim, but to watch it catch a helpless little woodpecker would be traumatic.

 

Though I have reminded myself again and again that intervening to redirect the course of nature is not my place, I just know I wouldn't have the strength not to intervene given the chance to save a birds life.

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In each place we have lived it has been different birds (at least in some part-- Northern Va and Northern AL have a lot in common).  So over here we have Cardinals, Blue Jays, Mourning Doves, tufted titmice, goldfinches, eastern bluebird, white breasted nuthatch,red breasted nuthatch,  Pileated woodpeckers, Downy woodpeckers, Hairy woodpeckers, American Robin, Red Bellied Woodpecker, Northern Flicker, Carolina Chickadee, Carolina Wren, House Finch, Cedar Waxwing, Brown headed Cowbird, Great Horned Owl (lives across the street),  Sharp Shinned Hawks (live across the street but teach their young ones to hunt on my property ((using chipmunks)), Summer tanager, Scarlet tanager,  Ruby Throated Hummingbird, Brewer;s Blackbird and warblers I haven't identified.  These birds have been in my yard or flying through my yard.  Nearby there are many other birds even a few houses down the street- like the bluebirds usually stay on the more open street perpendicular to me but they do come into my yard too.  However, I don't get starlings which are on the street that is perpendicular to mine but about a third of a mile down.  Others like Red Winged Blackbirds, Red tailed and Red Shouldered hawks, Turkey and Black Vultures also are all nearby, at least at times, but haven't been in my yard.

 

I hope to put in a water feature in the next few years and I will then expect to see the warblers better and also get even more species into my yard.

 

SInce this house is the one where I have had the most species come, can you guess why I don't want to move since I am a long time birder (about 44 years) and all my family have joined me in the passion- Dh basically started as a kid too though both of us really ramped up our birding upon meeting each other.  We were joining much older birders in Chicago where we went to school on birding jaunts through the park behind the Museum of Science and Industry and that was over 30 years ago.

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We have a new bird !!! I saw it in a flash. Didn't get a picture, been watching for it to return most of the day. Maybe tomorrow. LOL Not sure what it is, resembled a mini Mockingbird, but had a tuft of hair like a Cardinal. Sooooooooooooo excited. LOL Jumping up and down, a new bird! A New Bird !! 

 

ETA: Maybe a Tuffed Titmouse

 

ETA 2: It is a Black Crested Titmouse !!! Still no picture, but I got a real good look. ;-)

 

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Many years ago, my son and his friend were playing in the yard.  They came in yelling, and very upset:  "There's a BIRD and it's TRAPPED and you have to do something!!"  

 

I went out to find the little bird, a junco or something equally small, all wrapped up in that webbing that is used when landscapers put down turf.  I was so scared to pick it up...I'm not an animal person...but I HAD to, and so I did.  I still remember the immediate wonder that came over me...how tiny it was...I could curl my fingers all around the body and it wasn't even a tight fit...and I was amazed that something that small had all the requirements for life.  

 

We took the little bird in the house, got some scissors, and I oh-so-carefully cut the webbing away.  My heart was in my throat.  But I did it, and the webbing fell away so I didn't even have to "unwrap" the little bird.  I went outside, opened my hand, and it sat there for a second or two.  Then it flew about 5 feet to a fence post, looked back and me, and flew away.  

 

A small but memorable moment.  

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In Belgium, we lived in a house with a window wall two stories high for our very large living room area.  It looked out onto our patio and then there were bushes and step gardens out to the lawn under huge trees.  Birds just loved the area but every once in a while, one would fly into the window wall or one of our other windows.  They would be stunned and fall to the ground and either I or one of the kids would go outside, pick them up, and try to place them on our outdoor patio table.  Then they would revive and fly away. 

 

I certainly understand what you mean, Patty Joanna.

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I have posted a lot of my bird photography here: https://www.facebook.com/pattyrebnephotography

 

If you go to June 6, you will see the more typical shot and description.

 

If you go to June 6, the Carpe Diem post, you will see my Bird Pride and Joy shot of 2014. :0)

I just got to looking at your pictures. They are wonderful. I love the ducklings. And I love the turtles all lined up. Though my favorite is the mama bird and the egg in the flower pot.
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I just got to looking at your pictures. They are wonderful. I love the ducklings. And I love the turtles all lined up. Though my favorite is the mama bird and the egg in the flower pot.

Thank you. That was a total surprise picture. Some critter got the 6 eggs she laid. I watched how careful she was with the nest and eggs. It broke my heart.

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I just got to looking at your pictures. They are wonderful. I love the ducklings. And I love the turtles all lined up. Though my favorite is the mama bird and the egg in the flower pot.

Oh, and about the turtles--they are a comical lot. One day it was like watching a Northwest Lumberyard Logrolling contest. They kept over leaping themselves.

 

This park is 5 minutes from my house.

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Does anyone else here log their daily bird sightings into ebird? Or is anyone doing project feeder watch? We've been using ebird for a few years, and this is our second year for project feeder watch. We did the nest watch this past spring/summer, too.

 

 

Yep, I use ebird, although it comes in spurts. I'm inspired to get all my old bird data in this year so my data aren't just sitting on my computer, but actually contributing to science. I have it in another program, but it's not an easy transition. The birdlog app is super easy to use in the field, so I usually don't need pen & paper now.

 

I would be up for doing a Big Year, although I'm not going to be working very hard at it like hardcore birders, it would inspire me to get out more. My boss's boss is down on the Eastern Shore of Virginia right now finishing up his Big Year - he thinks he'll get ~360 species. He's staying over until Jan 1 so he can see the same birds the next day and count them for 2015 ;) Silly birders...

 

My general goal is to see at least 1 new species in a year (preferably more!!). It's hard for me to do in the US without some concerted effort. I was thinking about heading up to Michigan to see a Kirtland's Warbler this summer perhaps. Oooh, I have a Golden Eagle Working Group meeting in Maine in June - I can go see Atlantic Puffins!! :) Now that would make me happy! Maybe extend it into a trip up into Canada... :001_tt1:  I have always wanted to go to PE Island & Nova Scotia

 

 

And PattyJoanna - loved your pictures! A nice camera is on my wish list. I need to figure out which one and which lens. Nice quality but low budget and good for taking pictures of small birds...it's hard to comb through all the reviews and figure out what I need.

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And PattyJoanna - loved your pictures! A nice camera is on my wish list. I need to figure out which one and which lens. Nice quality but low budget and good for taking pictures of small birds...it's hard to comb through all the reviews and figure out what I need.

An entry-level Canon or Nikon DSLR would not disappoint. The expensive part would be the lens. It is amazingly tricky to get clear, well-framed photos of birds unless you have at least a 200mm zoom lens. A 300mm would be my preference, but I haven't sprung for one yet.

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An entry-level Canon or Nikon DSLR would not disappoint. The expensive part would be the lens. It is amazingly tricky to get clear, well-framed photos of birds unless you have at least a 200mm zoom lens. A 300mm would be my preference, but I haven't sprung for one yet.

 

The entry-level Canon or Nikon DSLR is the only part I've figured out :) It's all the lens that are a problem. Thanks for the advice on the 200mm or 300mm lens.

 

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I'll tell about our birds in my next post, but this thread takes me back to the first ever homeschool "project". Ds wasn't even technically homeschooling age yet (didn't have to report to the county until the following year). It's a bittersweet memory as we head into our final year of homeschooling. <sniff sniff>

 

When we first set up a feeder in our yard ds got excited about the different birds we began to see. We decided to keep track of the birds we were seeing. The project was all for fun and never made to feel like a chore. We made a poster and I printed out photos of the three birds we saw most often, which at the time were cardinals, bluejays, and mourning doves. I split it into a grid for breakfast, lunchtime, and dinnertime. We have a small bay window in the kitchen and the feeder is just outside of it, so those times made sense since that's when we'd usually be at the table. I taped the poster to the window. We had stickers and put a sticker in the appropriate time frame each time we saw one of the birds. We weren't counting actual birds, just which birds we tended to see at each time of day. It was far from scientific but was so much fun and sparked an interest in birds for both of us. My 17 yo isn't as interested as he once was, but he can identify a number of different birds, sometimes just by their song. 

 

Sigh. Homeschooling was such fun back then. 

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We're mostly backyard birdwatchers, though this time of year we often go to one of the local wildlife refuges (we have 2 favorites) to see the snowbirds (not the elderly human ones lol). There's a huge variety that come here for the winter but we have a pretty big group of year-round birds too.

 

In our suburban central Florida backyard we regularly see cardinals, bluejays, mockingbirds, red-bellied woodpeckers, white ibis, mourning doves, Eurasian collared doves (which people often mistake for white-winged doves), and red-shouldered hawks. Dh saw a hawk grab a squirrel once. I've only seen a hummingbird once but I know they're here. We often hear barred owls at night. Ds had to take the dog out in the middle of the night one night and saw one on his backyard play fort. We see robins twice a year - usually in October and February as they make their way south and then north again respectively. I occasionally see a brown thrasher*, though they like to stay well hidden. I have a hard time distinguishing between the different blackbirds and crows we see, but I believe our most common backyard one is the American grackle. We often see sandhill cranes by the roadside, sometimes with their babies. Oh, and there's a pair of swans that made a nest in a local retention pond. At our old house which was much more secluded, we had pair of ospreys that came back to the same nest every year. 

 

We once saw a bobwhite walking through our yard. When I read up on them I discovered it's rare to see one alone, so I don't know if this one was lost or what. It was walking across the lawn. We used to hear them all the time at night at the above mentioned old house. 

 

In winter we see butter butts (yellow-rumped warblers), a variety of wrens (mostly Carolina wrens), and red-winged blackbirds. We see the occasional catbird or tufted titmouse. I've only seen cedar wax-wings once, but was so excited when I did.

 

 

If we go to the wildlife refuge we'll see kingfishers, roseate spoonbills, anhingas, several different kinds of herons, crested caracara (elusive but so cool when we see one), bald eagles, ospreys, snipes, snowy egrets, other kinds of egrets, and killdeers. There are a zillion others, but those are the ones we see most often. 

 

 

Some years back, we had our yard certified as a wildlife habitat. We have a number of native plants loved by the birds, butterflies, and bees. The birds especially love our beautyberry and our native firebush. 

 

*Edited to correct. I knew brown thrush didn't sound right but couldn't think of the name, and should have looked it up. I was looking through my bird book this morning and realized it's brown thrasher, not brown thrush.

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In each place we have lived it has been different birds (at least in some part-- Northern Va and Northern AL have a lot in common).  So over here we have Cardinals, Blue Jays, Mourning Doves, tufted titmice, goldfinches, eastern bluebird, white breasted nuthatch,red breasted nuthatch,  Pileated woodpeckers, Downy woodpeckers, Hairy woodpeckers, American Robin, Red Bellied Woodpecker, Northern Flicker, Carolina Chickadee, Carolina Wren, House Finch, Cedar Waxwing, Brown headed Cowbird, Great Horned Owl (lives across the street),  Sharp Shinned Hawks (live across the street but teach their young ones to hunt on my property ((using chipmunks)), Summer tanager, Scarlet tanager,  Ruby Throated Hummingbird, Brewer;s Blackbird and warblers I haven't identified.  These birds have been in my yard or flying through my yard.  Nearby there are many other birds even a few houses down the street- like the bluebirds usually stay on the more open street perpendicular to me but they do come into my yard too.  However, I don't get starlings which are on the street that is perpendicular to mine but about a third of a mile down.  Others like Red Winged Blackbirds, Red tailed and Red Shouldered hawks, Turkey and Black Vultures also are all nearby, at least at times, but haven't been in my yard.

 

I hope to put in a water feature in the next few years and I will then expect to see the warblers better and also get even more species into my yard.

 

SInce this house is the one where I have had the most species come, can you guess why I don't want to move since I am a long time birder (about 44 years) and all my family have joined me in the passion- Dh basically started as a kid too though both of us really ramped up our birding upon meeting each other.  We were joining much older birders in Chicago where we went to school on birding jaunts through the park behind the Museum of Science and Industry and that was over 30 years ago.

 

All I can say is, spectacular! A glorified bird sanctuary!

 

I love the little Warblers so much, too! And like yourself we one day hope to put in a water feature of some sorts to draw in even more little ones.

 

By the way, congratulations on being a birder for long! Wow! That's great!

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Funny that I didn't see the sharp-shinned hawk for months (but suspected it might still be around) until today, the day after this thread started. It's really windy here and I was checking out some power lines I was worried about on our street when I saw the hawk casually sitting on a wire in a 45 mph gust. 

 

I always have my eyes peeled for hawks and such, even though I am well aware my sight is no where near that of a bird, nor is my sense of knowing danger before it strikes, but I still find myself dedicating myself to all facets of the bird life.

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We have a new bird !!! I saw it in a flash. Didn't get a picture, been watching for it to return most of the day. Maybe tomorrow. LOL Not sure what it is, resembled a mini Mockingbird, but had a tuft of hair like a Cardinal. Sooooooooooooo excited. LOL Jumping up and down, a new bird! A New Bird !! 

 

ETA: Maybe a Tuffed Titmouse

 

Yep, the very instant I read your description I though, a Tufted Titmouse! Aren't they real cuties!

 

Tufted Titmouse, Chickadees, and Nuthatches are known to flock together, and I was reading an article that mentioned Nuthatches will sometimes avoid feeding at certain feeders unless they have the backing of their Titmouse friends! How cool is that!

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Many years ago, my son and his friend were playing in the yard.  They came in yelling, and very upset:  "There's a BIRD and it's TRAPPED and you have to do something!!"  

 

I went out to find the little bird, a junco or something equally small, all wrapped up in that webbing that is used when landscapers put down turf.  I was so scared to pick it up...I'm not an animal person...but I HAD to, and so I did.  I still remember the immediate wonder that came over me...how tiny it was...I could curl my fingers all around the body and it wasn't even a tight fit...and I was amazed that something that small had all the requirements for life.  

 

We took the little bird in the house, got some scissors, and I oh-so-carefully cut the webbing away.  My heart was in my throat.  But I did it, and the webbing fell away so I didn't even have to "unwrap" the little bird.  I went outside, opened my hand, and it sat there for a second or two.  Then it flew about 5 feet to a fence post, looked back and me, and flew away.  

 

A small but memorable moment.  

 

What a special memory to carry with you. I'm a firm-believer in the idea that in some cases, wildlife recognises the good someone does for them, that's why they make eye-contact or even fly a short distance away as if to tell you, look, I'm OK, and thank you for helping me.

 

So sweet.

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In Belgium, we lived in a house with a window wall two stories high for our very large living room area.  It looked out onto our patio and then there were bushes and step gardens out to the lawn under huge trees.  Birds just loved the area but every once in a while, one would fly into the window wall or one of our other windows.  They would be stunned and fall to the ground and either I or one of the kids would go outside, pick them up, and try to place them on our outdoor patio table.  Then they would revive and fly away. 

 

I certainly understand what you mean, Patty Joanna.

 

A number if years ago I found a Hummingbird just sitting out on the grass, not moving, so I went out and picked it up and just held it in my hands for a while, talking to it, petting it, and as I was observing all of it's delight, I noticed how small it's feet were. They were just like human eyelashes. So dainty.

 

I'm assuming it had stunned itself and once it rested and recalculated it's bearings, away it went.

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