Bird brained stories!

Thursday, October 27, 2005

Cutest feeder bird?

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The weather has turned and the feeders are fast becoming THE place to be, at least for our year-round birds. Black-capped chickadees, house finches, goldfinches, downy woodpecker, cardinal, blue jays, juncos and my personal favorite---the White Breasted Nuthatch.

Granted, the photo isn't as sharp as I'd like. No matter. I was shooting through heavy fog this morning, my butt parked on a frosty wrought iron deck chair. I do believe that the fog is what allowed me to get my shot at all. Unlike their usual "snatch and fly" habit, this one sat and watched the large, sentient being from a distance, judging the threat to its newly snatched millet seed.

I realized that the calls the nuthatch was making were soft contact calls, and after getting some photos, unstuck myself from the chair and investigated. Sure enough, just around the corner of the house were three nuthatches, chatting away and working the trunk of a tree.

I'm not sure just what it is about nuthatches; is it their "mini-penguin" appearance, the jaunty angle at which they observe us or the entertainment they provide as they crawl headfirst, like avian daredevils, down the trunk of a tree? Whatever it is, I hope they will grace my birdfeeder tables throughout this winter to come.

Sunday, October 23, 2005

Yes, this is the bird it appears to be, and yes, this photo was taken today!

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This is indeed a Dark-Eyed Junco, one of several enjoying a little spa treatment in my uneven driveway this morning. Old-timers around here call them "snowbirds," so you know what that means. This snowbird will be happy only if their appearance includes sufficient snowfall this winter to make for plenty of happy cross country ski outings.

Along with the juncos, the Black-Capped Chickadees seem to be appearing in greater number as well. I keep hoping for a Carolina among the bunch--fat chance this time of year!--or even a Boreal. We do have a little pine grove for them. Is that boreal enough?

The goldfinches have shed their bright yellow coats for drab winter duds as well, and a post the other day on the wisbird listserv mentioned the presence of the Tundra Swans at the Trempealeau National Wildlife Refuge. I'm not quite ready to be a snowbird yet, but the southern movement of northern species, combined with fallen leaves, could make for some fun birding outings in the near future. Wonder if my Northern Shrike friend from last year will return to his post in the LaCrosse River Marsh?

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