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bird sightings 4

Posted by fairy_toadmother z5 ncentral il (My Page) on
Sat, Mar 17, 07 at 19:30

the american white pelicans are back! but bad pics b/c they are on the other side of the river :(
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had to do some lighting on this one

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today we inadvertently flushed out some woodcock :)


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RE: bird sightings 4

Lots of bald eagles around now that the river is opening up, and tons of pheasants (Yea! Pope Co Pheasant Restoration!), 1st Robin was 2 weeks ago, and the purple finches are getting...well, purpler :p Had a group of about 20 Cedar Waxwings go thru last week, but they moved on.
And I saw the 1st Great Blue Heron on Monday (on the river).


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Cool photos FTM. I like pelicans. We get the Brown and this winter they didn't fly south and many died and others were rescued. Many of the birds mentioned in this thread 'as returning' always shocks me(vultures, robins, cedar waxwings, herons). I forget how cold it gets in the midwest and upper midwest and these birds are migrants up there! A sure sign of spring!

A few photos from today (all distant). I tried to put the camera up to the binoculars but it won't work! So these were taken with the point and shoot, the bluebird using the macro setting as Jean suggested and that does work better )although I cropped it alot to make the bird bigger only to lose the resolution), but you can see the blue!

Anyway - Male bluebird on a feeder, a Cooper's Hawk in the tree, and a squirrel and downy getting a snack:

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yay! for sarah :)

hello there, ct. do they brown pelies normally migrate and just didn't? we only get the whites during migration, so they are just as special as the eagles to me.

your bb pic is still nice...and that squirrel looks like the one hanging upside down on my peanut feeder very similar to what yours looks like. thank goodness for metal. took me awhile to spot that little downy and now it is obvious.


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FTM - the Brown Pelican are supposed to migrate but we didn't get winter here until the first week in Feb. They never left because it was so warm with small fish still running in the shallows were they were feeding.

When the weather turned bitterly cold, and the rivers and creeks froze, they were trapped and their thin pouches and feet were freezing solid on the ice and they had no food and were starving as well. Hundreds died but many were rescued. The ones rescued were fed locally first to revive them for transport to a place in Virginia more suited, and the ultimate destination was a rescue rehabilitation place in Florida. Many local people were throwing them fish, but in some cases the fish were too big for them to swallow (they didn't know better). I think they saved several dozen in this area and not sure how many perished overall in other areas. It was a first here for this to happen. Of course they are coastal birds in summer, mostly along the Chesapeake Bay and Atlantic ocean.

I have mostly metal feeders. That one the bluebird is on is ancient. A Droll Yankee my Mom bought me years ago with metal ports and unbreakable plastic tube. I like the hood on it when it rains. I can adjust the hood height too.

The other feeder is just a cheap basket type I bought at Wal-mart and the squirrels can break into those and pull the wires apart over time. No great loss in money though, I just replace them for a few dollars.

I chased that hawk off after I took it's picture. I don't like to watch them hunt the birds on the feeders. My luck it would snag a bluebird!

The bluebirds have been fairly regular now. They like the fruit and nut mixes and the sunflower chips. I would put out a nest box save for my neighbor with all her outdoor cats. I know they would nest. I am also getting RWBB and Crackles in droves and they really eat too much. I have to fill up the feeders 3 or 4 times per day, and before they showed up I would fill up once per day, or once per two days.

We have some spring trees in bloom here now (plums) and my crocus and daffodils are all blooming for about 2 weeks now. Other trees have really fat buds, ready to burst forth. It is still under freezing every night and not what one would consider very comfortable spring weather. Ahh - but March comes in like a lion and out like a lamb. We've had strong winds the past several days due to the Nor'easter and also some sleet. Today it was blue skies and sunny, but still jacket weather. I am looking forward to a month or so of 70 degrees and sunny skies! Geez - you would think I went through a heavy winter like Nanook of the North!

CT


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I've already forgotten how cold it was this winter now that it's 40! during the day and the sun is shining.

Lucky you CT, Bluebirds are pretty scarce around here, I love it when I get one around, but even with several boxes on my 5 acres I've never had any nest right here. I think it's cause I'm surrounded by open fields, ~ 1/4 mile to really good habitat. But I keep trying!


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Spring is here! It's fun to hear what everyone else is seeing. The turkey vultures have been circling the yard for several weeks and I saw my first killdeer of the year. And everyone's chasing everyone! And singing!

There have been reports of pelicans in the area, not in my yard though, I think I'd need a bigger pond :^). And I have yet to see a pheasant or a woodcock (or hear one for that matter.)

The activity at the feeders has dwindled considerably although there are still some fox sparrows, white-throated and juncos hanging around. I also saw a brown creeper this weekend, I'm sure he's a short-timer.

But I had my first phoebe of the year, he's been singing his little heart out. And I had a pine warbler for a brief visit to the suet, but he's been a no show every since.

The mockingbird is still hanging around but I just get glimpses now, his starling patrol seems to be over since they have returned to the fields.

And I think I have gotten him in every pose except the classic tail-up! But I'll keep trying ....

Mockingbird 1
Mockingbird 2
Mockingbird 3
Mockingbird 4
Mockingbird Eyes


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Jean - those mocker photos are almost comical the way you have them in a series! You put your beak in, you put your beak out, you pput your hiny in and shake it all about... you do the mocker-pokey.... LOL

Great photos of one of my all time faves! Love those mocker eyes!


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  • Posted by youreit z9b CA Sunset z8-9 (My Page) on
    Tue, Mar 20, 07 at 12:27

LOL!!! @ mocker-pokey! Sounds so naughty. More LOL!

LOVE the pics and sighting reports, ladies! Not much going on here, unfortunately. Not even any hummers, although 2 of my Salvias are already in full bloom. I like watching the finches and sparrows chase each other and sing melodies of love, though. :)

Been busy chasing slugs and pulling a multitude of foxtail clumps, but I shall continue to live vicariously through you all!

Brenda


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i have been wondering if i should hang out the hummer feeders. after all, we say robins with subzero temps.


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Hummers are showing up here - I've word of sightings. I've not put out my feeders out yet but probably will this weekend. A tip I heard recently is start with 1 part sugar to 3 parts water and once they come in, switch to 1 part sugar to 4 parts water. No red dye needed. Clean the feeders with a bit of bleach and warm soapy water and rinse really well before use. Happy humming! CT

P.S. Put out nesting materials too. I had some rattan that I cut up into smaller pieces. They also like hair from dog and human brushes, bits of string, Easter grass (like my Robin last spring!) I don't use plastic Easter grass - it is some natural product but not sure what exactly, sort of paper like but doesn't get destroyed by rain. I drape my nest material in the shrubs, trees and ground, but I've heard of some folks put it in suet cages and hang it. I like to concentrate it one general area so the birds can come back as many times as they want and still find some good stuff.

Make sure you have some mud puddles for the Robins so they can mud their nests (if you have no natural rain falling).

I saw two crows this morning - the lead bird had a beak full of straw and grass bits! Egg time is coming!


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  • Posted by youreit z9b CA Sunset z8-9 (My Page) on
    Wed, Mar 21, 07 at 12:31

I've been seeing the mouthfuls of garden extras here, too. I even watched a sparrow tugging on some weeds that hadn't been pulled yet. He was really getting after it, too, putting all of his weight into it. Very cute.

I put all of my garden stuff (pulled weeds & twigs) in piles around the yard for just that reason. Seeing all the stuff hanging out of the nests (some I can't even identify) is so funny!

The little kinglet and some finches have been visiting my hummer feeder while the hummers are AWOL. And I saw a pair of mockingbirds out at the creek yesterday! They're so skittish. The wind is really cranking now, and it's hilarious watching the goldfinches swinging around on the feeder. LOL

Brenda


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yesterday, a wren flew into the garage. no problems, just snooping around...flitting here, flitting there. he definitely didn't feel trapped as he perched around and looked at stuff. hmmm, usually it is the queen bumblebees with the first entrance of the year. he flew out just fine.

ok, the following photos aren't birds, but there are bird feeders involved. i didn't get the full series of pictures b/c my battery died. it was funny watching the squirrel go round and round on the feeder- not spinning, but crawling. even more hilarious was when it climbed to the top of the post and then jumped to the fence. it looked like a mix of insane maniac, bonsai/kamkaze squirrel, and superman, without the cape.

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now here is the thing. on the fence left of the photo there is a squirrel feeder with a mix of stuff they would like including peanuts. it is easier to get to, but this bugger wants the peanuts the hard way. crazier yet- the post the feeder is on is the section of fence squirrely jumped to (but skipped the feeder).


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That's why they call them squirrels!


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But ftm, he's having fun! And he just wants to share with the birdies. Cute pictures!

We won't get any hummers for awhile yet, they show up as soon as the buckeyes bloom. I did see a kingfisher at the creek today on my way to work. And as I sit here, I am getting serenaded by spring peepers - two nights ago it was just one brave peeper, and last night a few more joined. But tonight they are really going at it!

But we aren't in the clear yet, last year we got 6" of snow on March 21st and the year before we got a dusting towards the end of April just as the redbuds were blooming ....


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That is beautiful Jean. Redbuds in the snow. Looks like a fairyland.

I heard peepers for two night now - a fair number. It is sort of cold tonight but nothing a peep cannot handle. Tons of bluebirds today! I also have Magnolia warblers. My YBSS is still hanging around too. He ususally leave in March.

BTW - HAPPY FIRST DAY OF SPRING TO ALL!


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  • Posted by youreit z9b CA Sunset z8-9 (My Page) on
    Thu, Mar 22, 07 at 8:07

Geez, I kept thinking spring started on the 20th! LOL Thanks for the reminder, CT!

That is an adorable, phat squirrel, FTM!! I just want to pinch his little buns (and kiss that noggin)! He's so silly, working for his food. LOL

I LOVE redbuds, Jean! They're one of my favorite trees (2nd only to the buckeye, and I hope mine blooms for the first time this year!). I've never seen them in a snowy setting, though. So dreamy.

Brenda


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cool pic, jean!

i heard my first peeper on saturday while strolling the park. they may have been peeping sooner, but i wasn't paying attention at work. well i did last night! peeping all over the place!

brenda, you're right on working for food, silly thing with a feeder so accessible. they must only be able to bit off little nibbles. at least it slows them down and the peanuts last longer. the only others i get on there are starlings. no woodies for me, they stick to the trees. i would have loved to get the pose on the other side of the feeder when s/he looked up facing right toward the window.


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A sullen and dreary day today. Temperatures are not comfortable falling in the low 60s. Yesterday it was sunny and 75. We did get rain in the overnight which is good.

I had a few male and female towhees this morning. The males kept swooping down at each other. They can fly fast and maneuver well. The ladies were a dull brown but had the good sense to completely ignore the antics of the males and continue to eat. Also this morning a few Ruby Crowned Kinglets which I don't see often here.

Other than that I have the usual suspects hanging about.

Speaking of squirrels - I started using small bungee cords to hand seed bells and finch blocks and at first no issues. Over time however the squirrels shimmied down the cord and started chewing off about half a block and carrying it off. Lately, they (or one) have improved the skill by carrying away the whole bungee cord and the whole block. I found one bungee (minus any food of course) on the side of the house and the other is long gone somewhere in the woods. I'll probably notice it one day hanging a 100 feet up where it will stay for posterity. (and the fact one would have to be an idiot to climb 100 feet to recover a bungee cord). LOL

Forgive me if I've told about the bungees already - with up to 4 brid sighting threads one gets forgetful (and that has nothing to do with me being 49!) Or maybe it does - oh my! :^)


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I managed a photo of the male bluebird from the front so you can see the coloration of the breast. I chopped off those few branches that were always in the way of the suet. The starlings have been on the suet chasing everyone all morning. That suet cage was full this morning to give you some idea of how much 5 starlings eat!

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Photo of a patch of crocus in my front garden.

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None of you mention how you deal with the squirrel problems. Typically any food that is put out for the birds goes right to the little monsters. Yesterday I put out a large metal suet holder like the one CT shows and within minutes they had found a way to get to the suet/seed. When that proved too slow they dropped the holder to the ground by chewing through the branch. When I use a sheperds hook, they jump against it until it falls over. Here at the end of winter, they are fat, fat, fat! My temper is thin, thin, thin! They don't seem interested in the thistle seed but then none of the birds are either. The bluebird is fantastic!!! Sleepless


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Other than stealing blocks of seeds I don't have problems with squirrels. I don't mind them eating the seeds I put out. I have one ground feeder they prefer and I also put seeds all along my picket fence, on a tree stump, on the ground and a bench. They like to eat on the ground first and will move to feeders they can reach and stuff a mouthful of seeds to eat on a branch. I also have one tube feeder they can't get at because it has that domed lid and I use a skyhook that puts it way out on a branch. They can eat from the cage feeders I put mixed seeds in. I did notice one of my biggest squirrels is pretty fat, but most are normal looking.

I notice the upper midwest squirrels all seem to be sort of reddish-brown. Very different than the Eastern Grey squirrels I get which are white on the underbelly, grey with just some brown down the middle of the back. I believe they are the same species so I wonder why the different coloration. All our squirrels are the same except for the black squirrels in Washington, DC and the rare albino.


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  • Posted by youreit z9b CA Sunset z8-9 (My Page) on
    Sun, Mar 25, 07 at 10:14

Beautiful bluebird, CT!! Man, I wish we had those.

Those gorgeous crocus look like the purple ones I got at Wal-Mart over a month ago. I was so tempted, even though they probably won't do so well in years to come due to lack of cold winter temps (usually). They were too yummy to resist, but they stopped blooming for me a LONG time ago! :D

(Un)fortunately, we don't have squirrels in our yard. My folks have the HUGE grey ones at their house. They don't put out any bird food, though. The cuties scamper around right in front of you. I love their chattering. :)

I saw our first hummer in many moons yesterday! I think his head was wrapped in red foil! LOL

Even shinier head in person!

My 'Apricot Twist' Erysimum is in bloom now...and the 'Alley Cat' Irises (barely visible in the very top). :)

Love this plant!

Brenda


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That is an Anna's Hummingbird. Thanks for the photo - I've never seen one before and they are beautiful. The only hummers we get are the Ruby-throated. Beautiful flowers too which is probably what brought out the hummers! I love your garden - it suits the mostly dry climate and is natural looking. Keep those garden photos coming! CT

Here is a photo of my daylilies in bloom (from last year). Not sure if I posted this before. A result of my daylily facination a few years back. No new daylilies for me anymore! This bed is in the corner by my driveway and sidewalk that leads to the front door.

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My side bed below the porch in late spring (last year). As you can see, I am posting flowers as I am seriously getting spring/summer fever! I saw Siberian iris and daisies in a garden mag and liked it. The one red plant at the bottom was some tropical bulb I can't remember what it was - it is gone now, zapped by the cold, but the flowers were bright red lily type blooms. Our trees are budding up. The red maples look great tipped in red buds! Plums and some pears are blooming. Won't be but a week or two and most trees will 'pop' into leaf. I love it when one day the trees look bare and then boom, nice new green leaves!

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Coreopsis with Japanese maple makes an interesting contrast don't you think? Seed eatin birds love the coreopsis seeds. Mostly finches and song sparrows. That maple is where my neighbors cat has dug out a nest to catch the birds. I filled it with red pepper and also have filled it with pine cones from my woods, but boy did I get pine seedlings everywhere! My sister said to fill it with dog poop! I have plenty of that in the backyard!

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Ok, one more since I'm on a roll. My honeysuckle (not Japanese) on the corner of the porch railings and post. This is now starting to bud up well right now. It is planted with two clematis to help them climb better. This is the plant my Robin made her nest last year.

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I need to get to my old computer and transfer more photos. I have 1000's of photos stuck on an old computer with no CD burner so I have been emailing them to myself, two at a time, using dial up. It's been painful and I've been real bad about being consistent with the transfer so I am still paying for my dial up service going on 6 months now! I should have taken the PC to Best Buy to have them download everyting onto one CD ROM for $200, but I'm still ahead of them cost wise! I will kick myself when I get to the $200 dollar mark in dial-up fees and still have over half to transfer!

CT


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OK, I'm being a photo hog today. Some birds on the suet today:

Yellow-bellied Sapsucker (male)

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Red-bellied Woodpecker (female)

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Yellow-rumped Warbler

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Eastern Bluebird (female) about 3 feet left of the suet in the tree and a Downy Woodpecker (male) under the suet.

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CT - You won't hear me complaining about you being a photo hog, I'm glad to share the title with you! Beautiful gardens and so neat! I've got the same honeysuckle as you, I'm trying to get it to grow down a bank by the swing but it seems to be struggling a bit, I'm afraid it might be too shady where it is.

Such a beautiful hummer, like CT we only get the ruby-throated hummers. They are such fun birds to have around, I can't wait for them to return this year. I only got one decent shot of the hummingbird last year so this year I will be concentrating on getting more.

Brenda, I'm with you on the redbuds and buckeyes. I have alot of the redbuds and several buckeyes. They are so pretty blooming together - heres a picture from many years ago (this is the view from my kitchen) you can just make out a dogwood in the background.

I think my favorite tree is the dogwood. My native dogwoods are starting to die out (they grow best on the edge of the woods and the woods have gotten too thick for them to do well). I've planted three cultivars but they just aren't as pretty as the natives. I planted a yellow dogwood last year and it has a few blooms on it this year.

CT, I think the reddish squirrels are the fox squirrels, I get the grey squirrels too. Sandy, I have all of my feeders on poles that are double baffled and at least 8 feet from any trees (more to deter the raccoons than the squirrels). I don't mind the squirrels eating the seed on the ground but they tend to camp out on my platform feeders. Also, the birds seem to be very picky about the shelled nuts that they eat so I give the squirrels any leftovers.

I had a new yard bird today, not as pretty as CT's bluebirds or Brenda's hummingbird but fun to see a new face - it's a field sparrow, a common bird here but new to me! My chipping sparrows returned today and this little guy came with them ....



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Sandy, I meant to mention that I use Wildbirds Unlimited pole system. They are very easy to erect, I have moved mine around alot trying to find the best spot for it. The pole has an auger that is welded onto it so no digging required, you just screw it into the dirt. There is an optional stabilizer that attaches to the bottom of the pole which helps alot. I use both a cyclinder and funnel type baffle, you might just need one for squirrels, I have to have both for the raccoons. It adds up a bit when you get all the pieces but they do the trick. The goldfinches will love the nyger seed once they find it, but it needs to be fresh. I just use a sock for the nyger but if it gets really soaked I have to empty it and refill it.


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First Trumpeter swans today! 2 big flocks, the were gorgeous - sorry no pix.


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I want a Buckeye! I saw one with red blooms in my AHS mag and want that but I also love the white blooms too. I take it they will be perfect in dappled shade. Do they have any wildlife benefits? I could use them in the back of my thicket, but it tends to be dry shade in summer if rains are not consistent. I can supplement water until well established but after that I want them to be on their own.

My 5 scarlet elders and black chokecherry seedlings are sprouting well! I put them in last fall in my thicket garden. I've not seen any new growth on the American bittersweet yet (but it may be too early). I really want to add a mulberry (but I need two and space is limited). I also would like to plant 2 paw paws, some raspberries or blackberries, blueberry (I have huckleberry), and now these buckeyes would be great! I already have dogwood and redbuds. There is a new dogwood that has chartreuse leaves. I saw it last year in a nursery. Eye popping, but over $100, but is was a big specimen. I had a Forest Pansy redbud but it didn't make it. I've read the silky dogwood is the best for wildlife, but my regular dogwood berries don't last long. All the American holly berries are gone now too. The robins finished them off about 3 weeks ago. I need some ideas for groundcovers in my thicket.

Pretty sparrow Jean! I've learned to appreciate sparrows alot since getting interested in birdwatching. I get a swamp sparrow in summer around the pond on occasion. I also saw a Punk Rocker sparrow the other day and I never get those! I tend to get the white-crowned and song mostly.

Trumpeter swans must be beautiful. I think they are the largest swan arent' they? We get the Tundras in winter here and then they go up way north to breed in summer. Also, the mute swan of course as they were introduced. There is a huge campaign to get rid of those.

CT


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  • Posted by youreit z9b CA Sunset z8-9 (My Page) on
    Mon, Mar 26, 07 at 9:53

Jean, that sparrow is gorgeous!! I have a serious fondness for red/rust-colored critters. :)

I love YOUR garden, CT! So many different woodpeckers visit you, too! Mine is very...natural, yes, considering weeding is far down on my list of fun things to do. LOL I've always coveted Japanese maples, but the drying, brutal winds we get here would just be too much for them, I think. I did plant a silver dollar gum, a Sawara false cypress ('Cyano-Viridis'), and a Japanese garden juniper ('Nana') yesterday, so I hope they attract even more birds here. :) Although, it may get too hot here eventually for the false cypress. :(

My mom has a couple redbuds (Cercis occidentalis), and she told me I could have one, but I was worried I'd kill it during transplant. I just enjoy them when I visit her. :) They're so airy and fairy-like. I LOVE the view from your kitchen, Jean!

My little buckeye (Aesculus californica), which I'm hoping is old enough to bloom this year, and Salvia greggii 'Teresa' on the right. I've heard that buckeyes attract butterflies, and I can always use those. :)

I'm thinking the hummer was attracted to the blooming Salvias I have, including this favorite, a red S. greggii.

I'd love to see a trumpeter swan in real life, Sarah! I bet that was an incredible experience.

Brenda


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I wonder if the swans have begun their annual migration through Wisconsin. There is a very little town there, mostly farm land, where the swans collect every spring before they scatter for the summer. Thousands of them cover several acres and it is truly amazing. Anyone close tries to get there for a glimpse. The smart people stay in their cars but there is always an idiot or a tourist who wants "to get a little closer". If they are lucky they only wind up getting knocked into a sea of mud and slush.
I would love to visit Horicon Marsh again. It is on one of the major migration routes and millions of birds stop annually. There are over 290 species each season. The noise is so great you can't talk with anyone and to add to the decibel level there are cannons going off on the nearby farms where the farmers try to protect their fields. The marsh and wetlands are so huge the state and federal gov. each have their own area to protect. But the birds......! Its impossible to describe! From just one spot you might see 2 dozen flocks. Sensory overload! Sandy


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I forgot to post a link. Sorry about that. Sandy

Here is a link that might be useful: Horicon Marsh


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Sandy, I use two of the large S-hooks in opposite directions for each hanging feeder, the squirrels have yet to find out how to knock them down. But they're always trying!

Here in L.A. at darling daughter's, there's a little hummingbird sitting on a nest in the orange tree. (Btw, the oranges are SOOOOOOOO good!) We don't know what kind of a hummer it is, what do we northeasterners know other than ruby-throated. It (she?) is on her second round, there already were two babies. They hatched and sat on the edge of the nest and learned to fly and gone! All that in a week. And mommy started her second family almost immediately after. We're assuming it's the same bird. We've been looking in books and on the internet for what kind it is, but hard to tell if all you have is a girl hummer. We think maybe an Anna? Or was it an Allen?

There are lots of hawks here too. And a little flock of what looks like small parrots. Reddish heads, green bodies, medium tail, me looking into the light so I can't see details.

:) Mary


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I remember those flocks of parrots flying around San Pedro (towards the coast from LA). Very racous at times :) but pretty.


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Sheepco, I checked the range map for the trumpeter swans and they are very localized, how lucky you are to be in their path! Swans of any kind are fairly rare here so I was happy just to see a pair of mute swans last fall.

Sandy, thanks for the link on Horicon Marsh, I was drooling by the time I finished reading the home page .... Hubby wants to do a motorcycle trip this summer, I wonder what my chances are of getting him to take me there????

Mary, any word on the arrival of the baby? Or did I miss the big anouncement (I'm sorry I haven't been keeping very up-to-date). I think it would be fun to see birds that I will never see in the midwest - but that would be a rather loooonnnggg motorcycle trip.

CT - the blooms on the buckeye are actually a pale yellow, not real obvious in that picture though. They attract hummingbirds, butterflies and of course, the squirrels. Also the warblers seem to like them on spring migration as well as the slippery elms. I'm not sure what it is about those trees but that's where I usually see the spring migrant warblers. In the fall, they are more attracted to the eastern red cedars. I bought a black chokecherry last year, it had a few berries last year but I am hoping to see better production this year. I have a dozen or more viburnums, hopefully enough to cross pollinate. I do have a mulberry tree but it is so far from the house that I don't get to see what comes to eat from it. I planted a paw-paw tree several years ago, it's not very big (I really like it, it's so cute!) but I don't know if it's male or female and I'm not sure if it's close enough to cross-pollinate with the wild ones in the area. But it was only 6.00 and I figured I could always plant a few more and make sure I got a male and female. I also planted a couple persimmon trees just cause I always wanted one! I bought a dry-root smooth sumac a couple of years ago for a $1 and it is doing very well, unfortunately the serviceberries that I bought dry-root never came around. I'm open for any suggestions for other bushes, especially anything to replace the hated jap. honeysuckle.

Brenda, that is a very healthy looking buckeye! The ohio buckeye is less dense than that, your's is so cute, I hope it blooms for you this year. I planted a hotlips salvia last year and the hummers really went for it. I was surprised to also see the hummers going for some orange cosmos that Zinniachick gave me.

I'm off to start some more seeds - so far this year my seedlings are doing pretty well!


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  • Posted by youreit z9b CA Sunset z8-9 (My Page) on
    Tue, Mar 27, 07 at 9:05

Delevan National Wildlife Refuge is on the way to my folks' house up in Redding, and you should see the birds there! What you described, Sandy, very much reminded me of Delevan! Not only the birds in the water, but the flocks and flocks (ad infinitum) flying over, in, and out! And they stretch as far as the eye can see. Truly breathtaking.

Mary, it's SO hard for me to tell the female hummers apart! It could be any of several species that hangs out down there - black-chinned, Anna's, Costa's (maybe less so), or Allen's. That sounds like a wonderful place to watch life unfold, though! I can't even imagine how adorable those little babies must be! And speaking of babies...what Jean said. LOL

I've heard about those parrots down there, too. I would love to see those!

Brenda


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Thanks girls. Keep praying. They're going to induce Thursday AM if nothing happens beforehand. Watch for a new thread with the words "baby" and "Elliot" in it - that's the current plan for his name.

No time for chatter now though, I'm expected upstairs in the bathroom as soon as the joy of the bath tub pales, the little ones both want the same toy, and DD and I will divide and conquer with XL bath towels. Heehee.

:) Mary


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  • Posted by youreit z9b CA Sunset z8-9 (My Page) on
    Wed, Mar 28, 07 at 13:10

I'm so excited, I just had to jump online to tell you all! I know you ladies can totally relate. :D

I just had my FIRST cedar waxwings visit!! Woohoo!! I was out topping off the pond (wind is so brutal today), and I saw this very different bird with an obvious crown in silhouette. Then I saw another...and another...no way I could count them all! At least 20 of them, all up in the walnut tree.

I ran inside to get a pie pan full of grape jelly, in case they were craving it, put a big rock in it to keep the wind from blowing it away, and put it on the garden table out near the creek/pond. It seems that all they've been interested in is drinking from the creek, though. LOL

I didn't realize they were so small! In pictures, they always seem bigger, jay-sized. I just can't believe how beautiful they are!!! Not sure how long they'll be around (they keep returning to the walnut tree after short breaks...wherever), but I sure wish I had a tree with some sort of berries for them. I really need to look into that this year.

Ok, enough rambling from me! Thanks for understanding my excitement. LOL

Brenda


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Alright Brenda! Dontcha love how they take off and land as a group? I'll be interested to see if yours go for the grape jelly or if that was just a fluke last summer.

And I just checked in to report the first ever red-bellied woodpecker in MY yard! My folks 15 miles away have had them for years, but have a mature woods around their home. This is a first for me. He found the suet, so I hope he tells the Mrs. and they stay.

Also, the goldfinches are starting to put on some yellow.

S


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How exciting for both of you! And both are great birds. I have yet to have cedar waxwings eat anything that I have offered them so I am interested too if they go for the grape jelly. They love the cedar berries (DUH!) and the japanese honeysuckle though. My red-bellies will eat anything! They love shelled peanuts, suet, cat food, or sunflower hearts (they even eat with the ground birds). I do hope you get babies.

My yard list reached 99 with the field sparrow (not counting owls since I only hear them and not see them). I posted on a local birding forum about what bird might be 100 - so far they have suggested
Common Nighthawk
Chimney Swift
Red-shouldered and Broad-winged Hawks
Green Heron
Killdeer
Palm Warbler
White-eyed Vireo
Purple Martin

Unfortunately most of those birds would be fly-bys and I am terrible at id'ing birds in flight. So it might be awhile before I hit the big 100.

Mary, we'll be waiting to hear something.


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  • Posted by youreit z9b CA Sunset z8-9 (My Page) on
    Thu, Mar 29, 07 at 9:35

Oh, yeah, I LOVE how the waxwings stick together; it's so much easier to spot them. I've read that in summer, they tend to go solo, though. My eyes will be bloodshot from staring at that tree all day. LOL

That is awesome about your red-bellied, Sarah! From the pics I've seen online, they look so beautiful. I sure hope you get a ton more visits, too!

Wow, 99, Jean!! I'm only up to about 25 so far. LOL I'm going to vote for the Vireo as your next sighting. A totally random guess, but you never know. :D

Oh, man, the goldfinches are pigging out like crazy here lately! I've been having to fill the thistle feeder every single day! Looking out at them on the feeder (flying room only), bright yellow bodies covering the ground below it, even in the fountain feeder with the big boys, is an incredible sight, though.

When the wind was blowing, I was laughing so hard, because the feeder was swinging around like "wild and crazy" Steve Martin, but they held on for dear life. One in particular finally made it on there, and one below him kept leaning over to talk some smack and push him around. He'd just lean back until he was hanging upside down, look around like, "What the....?", then he'd swing back up to start the vicious cycle all over again. LOL Who needs the circus when you have birds? :D

Brenda


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Wow - lots of excitement! I am happy for you Brenda! The waxwings do hang in small flocks and they love the wax myrtle berries that grow shoreside and upland here. I think they look like wax myself - so smooth or shellac-like, coiffed if you will!

I think woodpeckers are not only beautiful but fun to watch. One thing I noted was I have more YBSS than last year and I had thought all along the one I've had for years was a male, only to see several this year that have a huge red blotch under their neck, and the sole oldtimer has all deep black under the neck (plus way more yellow to the body). I'll have to research them more!

Jean - some of those birds would seem tough to see as your 100th bird. The only three I would leave on the list, based on what I think your terrain and location is, are

Red-shouldered and Broad-winged Hawks
White-eyed Vireo

Of the others a few are birds one would expect near a shoreline other than a creek, one is a night bird, the palm warbler maybe if you have pine swamps nearby. I've seen them in great numbers in dense pine stands, near a swamp, by a large tidal brackish/saltwater 'river'. We call everything river here, but we have tides which technically makes it not a river. True rivers only flow one direction from the source to the mouth.

Two sightings to report: crows at my suet (3 times) and I wish I could get a photo, but they see me the second I move in front of the window. Actually, I was just happening to walk past the window doing other things and there they were, and poof, they see me and take off. One time I was able to watch for a tad longer before they took off I was in an upstairs bedroom watching, but with no camera. What a big bird to add to my series of suet photos.

The other sighting today was a female Wood Thrush and it did not look like a hermit.

I also have a few goldfinchs are are sporting some fine yellow feathers and a few beautiful house finches as well. I've not seen my orange phase house finches this year at all:-(

Oh - I've meaning to ask you Jean - have you seen Papa??

CT


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Oh Crows, I love crows! I don't get to see them up close though - I thought about trying cracked corn.

My wood thrush isn't back yet, I look forward to it's song every morning and evening in the summer. Is there a difference between the male and females?

No sign of Papa :^(. I hope he's off making a home someplace and that he returns again in the fall. My blue jay count is down to 6 now so I don't think he's the only one that got run out of the yard.

I think a palm warbler is a good possibility. According to Bruce Peterjohn's Birds of Ohio, "During migrations, the palm warblers are mostly encountered in brushy thickets, wooded fencerows, woodland edges and other shrubby habitats. They also occur in weedy fields during fall" He goes on to say that Palms are more numerous in spring migration than fall. Which concurs with what BNA lists as their migration habitats. But since I see many more warblers in fall, I may miss the spring migration. Killdeer are very common just a mile away so that is also a good possibility. Other than the white-eyed vireo, the others would be fly-overs so my chances of id'ing them are not great. I had cerulean warbler on my list of possibles since they breed in Ohio and are not uncommon, just hard to spot. Also a yellow-breasted chat seems like a likely candidate. But the suspense is killing me!


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The suspense is killing me too! I hope you get a great photo of a great bird in honor of the event!

I'd love to get a photo of the crows. They don't come all the time and they were quite shy for a long time, flying into the nearby trees, but never coming to the suet, until recently. The other birds despise them!

You know I don't know the difference, I'll have to dig out my bird book. I assumed a female wood thrush, as this bird was quite pale in coloration, but definitely a thrush of some kind. The speckles on the breast were very pale and only at the top, and the rest of the bird was shades of brownish-grey. This bird did not have the strong rust-brown of most thrushes I've seen before. It was quite plump as well. I've not seen this bird before today and I didn't get a photo, but I'll keep my out for an opportunity.

Here is a photo of a Mockingbird getting grapes off the skyhook. I hung a bunch of red grapes on the hook and they kept disappearing little by little, but I never saw who was getting them. WHen there were just a few grapes left I finally spied this mocker. He/she was fun to watch, flipping upside down and spinning around trying to knock a grape off. Once one was knocked one off it would fly to the ground, pick it up, and take off to the woods. I'll have to put a new bunch out. Today I noticed no grapes left.

The last two days I stopped putting out new food of any kind in the hopes of some of the starlings, RWBB, and crackle numbers to go elsewhere, but I don't want to stop too long or I lose other birds too. As usual not the best photo, but the best I can do with this camera, without being closer to the birds.

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  • Posted by youreit z9b CA Sunset z8-9 (My Page) on
    Fri, Mar 30, 07 at 12:26

Awesome pic, CT! I'm looking forward to the eventual fast growth of a Vitis californica 'Roger's Red' I planted last fall. It already has tiny little bunches of grapes on it, so I hope the birds get to pig out on it later this year! If it doesn't work out, I'll try your option. :)

Crows are incredible looking birds! I would love to see them in my yard, but I think it's too small to handle them and all of the regulars. :D

Brenda


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A photo of the bird I think is a Thrush. It turned to the front so you can see the streaks on the breast and those double lines under the chin. The beak is yellow. The tail is the same color as the body. I wish I had a side photo because the streaking only covers about half the underside of the bird and then turns to a pale, solid light buff color. The bird is smaller than a robin and plump. The wood and hermit thrushes I've seen are more distinct than this. This bird is pale all over and has one pale wingbar that almost blends in with the rest of the bird. If I can get a side shot I'll post it. None of my bird books indicate these double stripes on the chin. Sorry, but I can't get a clearer picture.

I've not had this bird before yesterday and it eats only suet, not the seed feeders. I've not noted if it kicks up leaves because I've not seen it on the ground anywhere yet. It has streaking on the breast, but it is not heavy, and definitely not spotted.

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i saw a whole retirement village of coots today :)


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Looks like a swainson's thrush to me but so many of the thrushes look alike. Did you notice any spectacles?

Swainsons from last fall ...

LOL at the retirement village !!


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RE: bird sightings 4

Vitis californica 'Roger's Red' - is that hardy in Zone 7 do you know off-hand? I want to get some type of Vitis. I see the wild ones in the woods on occasion. We call them fox grapes and they taste like concord. I'm going to check the propagation methods and I might just be bumming a cutting from you (LOL)! Speaking of grapes - you know I've not seen my pair of Brown Thrashers yet. I hope they come back - a favorite bird of mine.

Jean - I'll keep my eye out for the bird and instead of taking a fuzzy photo I'll look at it in the binocs to make some notes. If it does have an eye ring it was not readily apparent, but binocs will show if buffy ring. It does look like a Swainson's now that I see your photo (a bit paler overall perhaps). Peterson's does not show Swainson's in my area at all, so it must be migrating through from Mexico/Peru for it's northern breeding areas. First Swainson's for me. I'll have to mark my book!

FTM - that is funny - a bunch of old coots! LOL


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Spent about 2 hours on the bins.

Swainson's is going to have to come off my list because the thrush I saw today had a distinctly more rusty tail than the rest of the body which is a Hermit Thrush. There may be one still. Swainson' would have made 115 on my list. I don't count captive birds I've seen of course.

Sightings:

Foremost - my thrashers are back, saw three of them. Two are males as they were tussling while the third, with what I thought looked like a plumper body, looked on.

Male and female Eastern Towhee

White-throated and Song sparrows (and eek one House Sparrow). I've not had them before. I hope it goes away.

Usual suspects:

blue jays, crows, mourning doves, juncos, cardinal (male and female), crackles, house finch, goldfinch, robins, yellow-rumped warbler, carolina wren and chickadee, RRBL, and starlings.

CT


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Cometose......did you get a new camera? Great pics!! And your yard is gorgeous. Makes me think I'm in the wrong neighborhood here! lol!
You'll all be ashamed of me......I still haven't learned to use my new SLR digital. Menopause has really turned me into a zombie!! Its sitting here just 4' away, and I haven't touched it yet.
Seeing a few new birds this spring is motivating me a bit. I don't want to miss the migration and all the pics I can get of it.
Saw a bunch of golden crowned kinglets the other day.
Must.....learn.......new camera NOW!
I got a very bad pic with my old digital of 7 turkey vultures in a tree out back. That was exciting. But not good enough to show you all. I'm still hearing the pileated drilling in the woods, so hopefully one day I'll get a pic of him.
All of you with your beautiful bird pics and beautiful yards have motivated me to get down to business! (now if my body will just cooperate!).


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RE: --bird sightings 4

OK - three posts in a row by me (LOL). I am confused about my Yellow-bellied sapsucker that for years I thought he was a male due to his red cap, but 'he' has no red throat. This bird also has lots of yellow on the breast.

I didn't think anything of it until another one showed up that does have a huge patch on the throat and head, plus lots of white on the body and hardly any yellow on the belly. I think this may be a Red-naped Sapsucker (see link).

In the link it states YBSS can interbreed with Red-bellied woodpeckers. I think my original guy, very yellow breast, red-cap style head, and a coal black throat must may be hybrid of some kind because of no red throat at all.

Jean - do you have photos of the YBSS from your neck of the woods?

Below, the first two, are photos I took of the newcomer. In the first photo you can see the red cap head and part of the red throat, which looks just like the photo in my link of the Red-naped Sapsucker. The body has alot of white, and no yellow belly as far as I can see. In the second photo, taken a few minutes apart from the first, he is pointing his head straight up, so you can no longer see the red cap head, but you can see the huge red throat.

That is what is throwing me - I always thought my sole YBSS (in the last photo) was a male due to the red cap on his head, the yellow belly, but he has no red throat at all. Should he have some red on his throat or is he a girl with a red-cap, or is it a hybrid. His throat is coal black. His overall body coloration seems muted to me.

Just when you think you know your woodpeckers! LOL

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No red on throat at all, and females would not have that red-capped head.

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Other Links:

http://www.birds.cornell.edu/AllAboutBirds/BirdGuide/Red-naped_Sapsucker_dtl.html

Appalachian subspecies: http://biology.mhc.edu/ybsa/

Good photo of the male and female. My oldtimer has no red on his throat at all, but a full red-cap, so what is he?

http://www.mbr-pwrc.usgs.gov/id/framlst/i4020id.html


Here is a link that might be useful: Red-naped Sapsucker


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  • Posted by youreit z9b CA Sunset z8-9 (My Page) on
    Sat, Mar 31, 07 at 12:58

Hmmm, not sure about the hardiness of 'Roger's Red' (or V. californica in general), CT. The only hardiness info I could find was in my book, which lists it as hardy to Sunset zone 4, which has average winter lows of 34-28F, with extreme lows averaging 8-0F. I was wrong about the little grapes. They're little flowers. LOL This is my first season, so I can't be held responsible for my ignorance. :D

Re the unknown thrush in the photo (or is that the Hermit you saw after?). My book also lists the gray-cheeked thrush -

"Dull olive-brown, with pale, spotted underparts and no rust color in plumage; sides of face tinged with gray; no eye ring. Swainson's thrush similar, but has buff eye ring and buff, not gray, cheeks. Other spotted thrushes show rust color on upperparts or tail."

Also -

"Breeds from northern Alaska across northern Canada to Newfoundland, south to northern British Columbia, New York, and northern New England. Winters in tropics."

Maybe?

Brenda


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CT - the female yellow-bellied sapsuckers do have red heads. Most my pictures are males and immatures or unidentifiable back shots. Cornells site shows the red head on the female, although it is not a good picture and their description notes the only difference in the male and female is "Chin and throat red in male, white in female". I can't see the black throat in the picture. The yellow belly is very variable from what I have seen.

Here is a link that might be useful: Yellow-bellied sapsucker (Cornell)


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It just doesn't look like a hermit thrush to me - too stocky and the hermit thrushes that I've seen have bold spots. Gray-cheeked looks like a possibilty - Cornell shows the gray-cheeked and the swainson's migrate through your area.

Mr. Phoebe's persistant calling seems to have won him a mate! Mr and Mrs came to call today and sat outside my window for a few minutes before continuing their house hunting. Wish we had a little more sun today, lightning was a little flat ...

Eastern Phoebe 1
Eastern Phoebe 2
Eastern Phoebe 3
Eastern Phoebe 4


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I guess my sapsucker (the first one I've had for years) is a girl. Maybe that is why I have the boys here now! She is a looker;-) The Phoebe's are cute and look a bit top heavy.

The thrush in the photo may be a different thrush. The one I observed today in the bins had a very rusty tail, much more coloration that the rest of the body, which makes it a Hermit. It is highly possible I have seen two different birds, but I cannot be sure until I see the 'other' one again. I know Swainson's moves through here but I've not heard any of my SMAS folks talk about the grey cheeked before, but with migration anything is possible.

Has anyone ever seen a Rose-breasted Grosbeak, Blue Grosbeak, Pine Grosbeak, Lapland Longspur, or an American Redstart? I've never seen them, and I've also never seen a Scarlet Tanager yet I hear there are some not 3 miles down the road in the deeper woods. Any photos of any of these birds?


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We get alot of Rose-breasted Grosbeaks here, but I rarely see any American Redstart. The grosbeaks show up about the same time as the orioles, early may. Sorry, no pix.


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  • Posted by youreit z9b CA Sunset z8-9 (My Page) on
    Sun, Apr 1, 07 at 10:58

Awww, those Phoebes have the cutest big heads I've ever seen! LOL

I've only had one sighting of a Grosbeak in my yard, and it was a black-headed female. I hope you get to see all of those in your yard this year, CT!

Brenda


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Wish I had some pics for you, but I don't. Actually, I have a pic of 2 scarlet tanagers in a tree....but they are just red blobs.
I have redstarts alot in the spring/summer. They are so quick, and do alot of "flitting".
We have rose-breasted grossbeaks too. The females look like larger female house finches, except their beaks are big, and they have that white eye line.
I have pewees that show up every year in the same places on our property. I love their call!
Occasionally we have phoebes. Its funny, I had never had any around. I was getting something out of the trunk of my van one day, and without thinking, I began immitating a call I was hearing......Phee---beeee.......and then it hit me........I had a phoebe!
Tanagers don't seem to stay around much after spring.
I hope to get some good pics with my new camera this spring. I also have towhees and baltimore orioles and orchard orioles that nest here. I need to invest in a macro lens (isn't that the one that gets close-ups of far-away things?).
What I find cool is that the different birds come back to the same spots every year. The brown thrasher, the hermit thrush, the peewee, the orioles, the flycatchers......they all can be heard every summer in the same location on my property. Home-sweet-home, I guess!


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We only get the rose-breasted grosbeaks during migration. I don't believe I've ever seen the male in mating plumage - would love to though!

Female rosebeak
Male rosebeak (non-breeding plumage)

The Blue Grosbeak and Pine Grosbeak are out of my range and don't migrate through here but I would love to see a blue grosbeak!

Redstarts are migrants here, I have never seen them in the spring, but see them every fall.
A not so good picture of a redstart

Summer and scarlet tanagers are residents here.

The scarlet tanager nests in my neighbors yard. The male rarely comes out of the tops of the trees (so no good pics of him), the female and young do come to the feeders on occasion in the fall.
Female scarlet tanager

The summer tanagers are very secretive - they nest in my other neighbors yard. I've had glimpses of the male and seen the female only once.
Female summer tanager

Speaking of my neighbor, he tore down his old house and build a new house and removed dozens of trees. I'm worried the summer tanager and the great-crested flycatchers that normally nest there will not return :^)

I also get pee-wees, great-creasted and least flycatchers (hmmm, do you think I might have a fly problem???) The phoebe follows me around on the tractor, he has figured out my cutting pattern and will snatch a bug as I mow and then fly to the next tree and wait for me to pass. The problem is I have to go full bore (little tractor so full bore is about 2 mph) or he won't play. Which I normally do a power cut anyway but we have hilly areas that make it a little tricky to cut in a hurry.

I saw a blue-grat gnatcatcher today!


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RE: bird sightings 4

jeanner.......I've never heard of a male rose-breasted in non-breeding plumage. I don't believe I've ever seen one. Would that just be a juvenile male?


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Thats a good question Catherine, and I'm not sure I know for sure if it is a non-breeding male or a juvenile.

According to Cornell's BNA website
"Adult male in nonbreeding (Basic) plumage acquires some femalelike plumage characteristics while female plumage is similar throughout the year.
Adult male has a distinctive nonbreeding plumage, with pale head-stripes, and extensive brown feathers partly to largely concealing black-and-white pattern on upperparts and pink breast. Some individuals closely resemble adult female, though wings and tail remain pure black and white, and underlying pink breast usually still visible.
First-summer male similar to adult, but with more brownish primaries, secondaries, and (often) tail-feathers, and usually some brownish body-feathers. "

Heres a picture of his back, although I'm not sure if that helps ...

Grosbeak back


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  • Posted by youreit z9b CA Sunset z8-9 (My Page) on
    Mon, Apr 2, 07 at 11:48

"hmmm, do you think I might have a fly problem???"

No, Jean, it means you DON'T have a fly problem. Unlike me, who needs more of those birds in my area! LOL

I just looked up a pic, and the blue-grays are beautiful! Is that your first sighting of that particular gnatcatcher? In other words, was that 100?! :D

Brenda


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Thanks Jeanner.....
I never knew the males ever looked any differently than how I usually see them......with the red and black. Interesting!


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RE: bird sightings 4

Cat - just a quick note on something you said up several posts. A macro lens is for taking close-up pictures of very small objects. Like the eye of a fly for instance.

You need a zoom lens, and Jean had mentioned at least 400mm for good bird photography (or higher). The zoom will give you range. Or, use a prime lens which has a set focus range but better resolution (that is if I understood Jean correctly). She gets her outstanding details by using her prime lenses.

I'm going to check out the photos folks posted now and get back on that. CT

P.S. All of my sapsuckers left for more nothern locations to breed. They always leave sometime in March, but for the past 4 days I've not seen them at all (which means they are gone). I will look forward to their fall return!


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The blue-gray gnatcatcher is not a new bird for me, they nest closeby (I think in the trees/brush in the dry pond). But I have yet to get a good picture, they are very fast and tend to stay in the tops of the trees. This is the best I've done ... a gnatcatcher feeding a juvenile cowbird. Poor thing was working very hard to keep the cowbird satisfied!

Catherine, CT is right about the lens. However, I use a 100-400 zoom for the birds and not a prime lens. The 400mm prime lens that Canon offers does not have image stabilization so I opted for the zoom's versatility and image stabilization. But your camera has more pixels than mine so your pictures will be larger and allow for more cropping.

Good news! Some one is nesting in my bluebird box. DOn't know what as I haven't seen any activity but when I opened the side today I found a wall of grass. I don't have a clear view from the house and it is 300 feet or more from the house.

I took a little stroll through my woods tonight to see what was blooming (before the cold blast moves in). The bloodroots are blooming and some spring beauties. My twin leaf is not up at all but the trilliums and may apples have emerged. The hepatica should be blooming soon, assuming the snow doesn't get it. I have touch-me-not seedlings all over the place.

Heres a few of the bloodroots...


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RE: bird sightings 4

I like the action photograph. Too bad the gnat-catcher was visited by the cowbird though. I despise that about cowbirds.

Beautiful wildflower image Jean. I like the woodland flowers and plants. Do you get showy orchids? You obviously have moist woods. My woods are dry shade so unfortunately I don't get mayapples, orchids, spring beauties, or jack-in-the-pulpit. I've not even tried to grow any of the moist woodland plants.

I'm always looking for dry shade plants, that also must like an alkaline, poorly drained clay base with an acidic top soil of rotted pine needles and oaks leaves. Tough environment. I do get a creeping evergreen vine with white flowers and red berries that is interesting. I identified it a while back, on a Maryland wildflower site, but have forgotten what it is at the moment. I thought it was winterberry creeper because it looked like that, but it was something else. I'll have to go and find the name again.

Any ideas of what to plant in my environment that will also be beneficial to small mammals and birds? If I had consistent moisture it would be nice. When it rains heavily I get the most unusual mushrooms on my property. This year, if and when they show up, I will photograph them and post. I have no clue what any of them are.


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RE: bird sightings 4

Thanks for the info about zoom versus macro. I swear, I lose more of my brain cells every day!!
I'm hoping the nighttime freezing that's predicted for this week doesn't ruin all the wildflowers and leaves. I really have to figure out what to do with all these lotus tubers I just harvested. I think 19 degrees F is too cold for them outside....??
jeanner....that poor gnatcatcher!! Trying to keep up with that huge baby cowbird.
I guess I have a different opinion about cowbirds. They have been doing this for centuries and its how they adapted to following the bison herds for food.
I think if we have a songbird problem, is because of us humans, not the cowbirds.
I saw a PBS special on them once, and it changed my feelings about them. They look long and hard for the best area and the best nest for their babies.
I have faith in nature knowing what its doing. What causes problems is when mankind messes up the flow of things. Sometimes it really hard to identify where the problem actually is......but I honestly don't think its with the cowbirds.
I took a lawn chair back in our woods yesterday. My husband spends all his summers pulling out invasive honeysuckle that has taken over our property, and now it actually looks like an "old-fashioned" woods. Not many birds out for some reason........but I did see a brown creeper going up and down a tree. The temperature was perfect, the woods were perfect. I had to be careful, or I was going to just meld into the air.....and become one with the universe........ohmmmmmmm :)


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RE: bird sightings 4

what a pic,jean!

i see i need to get busy and post my springers i photod last week. i thought about starting a diff thread for plants, but i haven't gotten around to it. no matter to me! i like looking at all the pics :)

wintergreen,ct? though i believe they like moisture. or is it bearberry?

lol, cat!

Here is a link that might be useful: bearberrry, kinnick kinnick, uva ursi


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RE: bird sightings 4

  • Posted by youreit z9b CA Sunset z8-9 (My Page) on
    Tue, Apr 3, 07 at 11:43

That's a great pic, Jean! So sweet. :)

Those bloodroots are gorgeous! They're not even in my Sunset book, so I'm sure they wouldn't like it here. I've seen Trilliums growing up in the foothills here near streams, and it's one of my favorite plants of all time. You live in such a beautiful area!

The only dry shade plants I can think of at the moment are some of the Mahonias, CT. One in particular (M. nervosa) is an excellent choice for dry shade, but many of the others take little to no water, as well.

I sure wish you could get answers about your lotus, Catherine! I've seen your posts over in Discussions, and I wish I knew enough to help you out! I agree about the mankind issues, too. :)

Brenda


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RE: bird sightings 4

Thanks Brenda,
I ended up collecting all those lotus tubers and putting them in a big bucket of pond water, and I'll bring them in at night. I just know all the flowers, etc., are going to get their bippies froze off this week!


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RE: bird sightings 4

Catherine, can you share how your husband is getting rid of the honeysuckle? I was told by the local park ranger that you can cut it back in fall and apply full strength roundup to the ends but that didn't work for me. I just ended up with fuller bushes the next year. Digging it up doesn't seem to work either. My woods are overrun with it and I can't seem to even make a dent in it. It's so thick in some areas that you can't even begin to walk through it. I have a few small areas where it hasn't spread - I avoid walking through those areas as I was told it is very quick to spread to areas that have been disturbed. Which I have seen as the worse area is where the power company drove their trucks in to trim trees and now I have an alley of solid honeysuckle that didn't used to be like that. I am also hesitant to rip it off the slopes as it is the only thing stabilizing the hill. But it just makes me sick to see how overrun my property is compared to my neighbor's woods that is pristine and full of wildflowers. I think the cows that were pastured here and the wild (as in, out of control) kids that lived here before really did a number on the wildflower population. Last year I dug up some trilliums and twin-leafs that were in danger of being overrun with honeysuckle and gave them to friends where they would be safe!

CT, have you tried mayapples? Mine grow in heavy clay and do quite well, they don't seem to be that picky. Box turtles love the blooms and I find a few every year munching away. I think wild ginger is also fairly adapting. How about snakeroot? I'm not sure how beneficial it is to wildlife, although I am a firm believer that a variety of vegetation is a bug attracter and therefore a bird attractor. It is beautiful when blooming and has an dark green leaf that is quite pretty. Heres a picture of it blooming ...

FTM, get on the stick girl, we're waiting!!


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RE: cowbirds

As for cowbirds, they are just doing what comes natural. Unfortunately they are having a major impact on the wood thrush population. They cite habitat fragmentation as the reason, which is due or course to humans. There is an increasing opinion that even parking lots at parks are a problem because of the abrupt change in habitat. These types of habitats are prime for cowbirds and other predators but are forcing the birds who prefer the deeper woods to nest closer to the edge of woods. It's sad but certainly not the fault of the cowbirds.

Here is a link that might be useful: Wood thrush decline


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RE: bird sightings 4

Trillium and Dutchman's Britches just starting to bloom around Milacs Lac, Mid east central MN. I've tried to transplant trillium here in west central MN, but haven't done it in the right spot yet I guess. The Dutchman's Britches are so delicate, pure joy:)


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RE: bird sightings 4

and bumblebees love those britches! hmmm, don't say that too fast :)


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RE: bird sightings 4

Jack-in-the-Pulpit

Image Hosting by PictureTrail.com

Dutchman's Britches
Image Hosting by PictureTrail.com

Paw Paw tree blooms
Image Hosting by PictureTrail.com

Jean - the snakeroot is lovely and I also love Mayapples. I get many box turtles passing through and I didn't know they liked Mayapple fowers. I do know where 1000's of them grow and I made take one or two and see how they do. They are common around here but I thought I always saw them in low places. Oddly, I have 9 (or more) of the Black Gum (Nyssia) and they are listed as for moist, poorly drained soil, so maybe my woods are not as dry as I think they are. The top soil is about 4 to 6 inches thick and consists of rotted oak leaves and pine needles. It looks like peat.

I still have yet to find that plant that DOES grow in my woods. FTM - it is not Bearberry. I thought it was that but it is not. This plant is completely flat on the ground, gets small, 3 petaled flowers, followed by one red berry per each flower. It almost is like a chain pattern with opposite leaves along the trailing/creeping stems.


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RE: bird sightings 4

Sheepco, I'm surprised the trilliums are blooming there already. Mine are just leafing out. Could they be the snow trilliums (very rare in these parts)????

I love the paw-paw! How big is yours? Have any idea how old they have to be to bloom? Mine is only about 3 feet tall. Do you get fruit on yours?

The dutchman's breeches and jack-in-the-pulpits are such cool plants. I don't have any wild jack-in-the-pulpits but my neighbor has them so I always have to go take a peek. I've been trying to get a little patch of blue-eyed grass to grow but it's not doing so well. I hope the cold didn't get all the wildflowers.


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RE: bird sightings 4

very nice!

ct, why does it look like there is a butterfly transposed into the dutchmans breeches? or, do i need to adjust my meds?


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RE: bird sightings 4

Jean - Not my Paw paw but one near by my home in the woods. It is 15 to 20 feet high is my guess, or more. It is a wild specimen in the woods and yes they get fruit.

FTM - that is a Zebra Swallowtail which are fond of Dutchman's Breeches.

BTW - it is snowing right now and we are expected to get 3 to 5" with some freezing temperatures that might harm fruit tree flowers. I hope this does not cause a bad year for berry production on the wild cherry trees. I have a huge black cherry that some years is loaded with fruit and a major bird attractant. All of my scarlet elders, black chokecherry shrubs made it through the winter. Not sure if any of the American Bittersweet did, but it may be too early to judge.

CT


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RE: bird sightings 4

  • Posted by youreit z9b CA Sunset z8-9 (My Page) on
    Sat, Apr 7, 07 at 16:14

That image of the Dutchman's with the butterfly is awesome, CT! Good eye, FTM! I didn't even see it until you mentioned it.

Really love those Paw Paw blooms, too. So rich and Asian looking!

Brenda


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RE: bird sightings 4

Thanks Brenda!

I took another photo of that thrush this morning. I tried to get one from the side with the tail showing, but no dice. We had wet, gloppy snow this morning and this bird was coming to the front porch for hulled sunflower seeds and suet. This photo is closer with the bird on the first step of my front porch. The rusty color seen on the tip of the wing is also on the tail. Is it a Swainson's or Hermit???

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RE: bird sightings 4

ct, perhaps you will understand my confusion if i say we never get butterflies and breeches at the same time! :)

our newly awakened queen bumblebees love them though. oops, repeating myself again.

i would so love tohave a paw paw.

here goes:

Photo Sharing and Video Hosting at Photobucket
Photo Sharing and Video Hosting at Photobucket

sharp lobed hepatica. i think the main diff b/t these pics is i was playing with my portrait setting (fuzzing out the background)

Photo Sharing and Video Hosting at Photobucket
Photo Sharing and Video Hosting at Photobucket

bloodroot. what is interesting jean- mine bloomed and the leaves were still twisted around the flower stems while yours seems opposite:

Photo Sharing and Video Hosting at Photobucket
Photo Sharing and Video Hosting at Photobucket

i can't remember exactly what this species is, but it is native and dies back when the temps climb.
Photo Sharing and Video Hosting at Photobucket
Photo Sharing and Video Hosting at Photobucket

i didn't get my spring beauties, or my breeches. now, it is just plain too cold. 34 right now and was way colder last night. so, i didnt bother looking for asparagus again. i tend to pick the free spirits growing at work here and there. i don't eat it and i don't like the smell of my hands after picking it, but it is one of the few veggies dh likes.

i remember talking about those spears somewhere, but i don't remember which thread!


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RE: bird sightings 4

Hi jeanner,
The honeysuckle has been so awful for us. The guy who built this house, bought it from the DNR and planted long rows of it. We let it grow for 20 years, before realizing how awful it was.
My husband goes out every weekend, for almost the whole day, and pulls alot of it by hand. We don't use chemicals, although I'm getting close to agreeing to use them.
someone on the woodlands forum told me about this really neat tool that we ended up buying. Its called a "Weed Wrench". It comes in 3 different sizes. Its unbelieveably good at pulling out stumps easily. But as you know, most older honeysuckle has big multiple trunks.
My husband usually cuts it down to about a foot with the chain saw. Then goes back the next year and cuts it again. Then the next year, he can usually pull the stumps out.
But.....as much as he's pulled out over the years, alot of the entire property is covered with baby honeysuckle. Its just a nightmare.
He's disturbed so much of the ground while pulling all this stuff out, I think he's just been preparing the perfect bed for more honeysuckle to grow.
Because of my physical limitations, I can't help him. I'm trying to talk him into hiring a group of people to come work on it, so we can finally get ahead of it. But he doesn't want to do that. So I think its pretty futile.
Also.....I believe we have spread honeysuckle to all the properties around us, and if the neighbors don't want to get rid of their's........then it just comes back to our property.
Its totally unbelieveable how huge this stuff gets.
I'm seeing it more and more elsewhere in this state, and I think it will get to the point, where the officials will realize that it has to be removed somehow. I just can't believe how aggressive and invasive it is.
On the stumps that DH has cut, and its sprouting all around it, I'm thinking of spraying it with a salt solution, or vinegar or ammonia.......but I haven't tried that yet.
We're also overrun with wild raspberries and just a few years ago I found "hop vines" growing everywhere.
Living in the woods isn't nearly as easy as it sounds!!
But check out the "Weed Wrench". Its a pretty amazing tool.


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RE: bird sightings 4

Try cutting the honeysuckle to the ground and using double strength Round-Up while the wounds are still open, then cover it with black plastic to block all light (and hopefully all water) for several months.

I like the white flowers with the yellow centers. They look like Anemone of some type.


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RE: bird sightings 4

cometose.........we have thousands of these.
I LOVE their blossoms! They smell so heavenly. But the honeysuckle are like the Sirens......luring the sailors to their deaths! lol!


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RE: bird sightings 4

  • Posted by youreit z9b CA Sunset z8-9 (My Page) on
    Sun, Apr 8, 07 at 15:34

Those bloodroot flowers are beautiful, FTM! And that last thing (fern?) is wonderful! It looks like a little alien visiting us earthlings. :) The Hepatica is gorgeous, too!

Brenda


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RE: bird sightings 4

Anybody going to guess the Thrush or do I need the tail in the photo?


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RE: bird sightings 4

Just a quick note CT - I'm having a hard time with your thrush. It certainly doesn't look like a hermit thrush to me and I would think you would be able to see at least a vague spectacle for a swainsons. I'll check BNA in a bit and see what photos they have for both .... have you asked your local birders? Any thrushes being reported on your listserv?


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RE: bird sightings 4

I'm taking a wild guess at either a gray-cheeked or bicknell's thrush - but I haven't seen either so it's just a guess. Heres BNA's synopsis of the difference between the two ...

gray-cheeked
Medium-sized thrush, slightly larger than any other Catharus thrush (1617 cm, 2630 g).
Upperparts and tail fairly uniform cold grayish (brownish gray to grayish olive).
Rather plain, cold grayish face with indistinct whitish streaks or mottling on ear-coverts,
narrow grayish-white area mainly along upper and rear portion of eye (never a bold eye-ring),
and grayish lores. Distinct dark lines at sides of throat coalesce with prominent brown-ish-black
triangular spots on lower throat and breast; belly and sides marked with oval-shaped spots
(spots wider than long) distinctly paler than breast spots.
Underparts starkly white except for slight buffy wash usually confined to breast and sides and
cold grayish wash on flanks (this color similar to upperparts).
Contrast between darker triangular anterior spots and pale oval posterior spots,
combined with cold, grayish sides and flanks and minimal buff wash on breast highly distinctive.
Veery similarly plain-faced but has only diffuse dark line along sides of throat,
rather weak spotting that is restricted to breast, and upperparts rich reddish brown, although populations with duller, darker brown (less rufescent) upperparts breed in Newfoundland, s.-central Appalachian Mtns., and Rocky Mtn. region and may be encountered on migration across e. North America.
Veery also has pale, silvery gray flanks that tend to contrast with rich brown upperparts (little contrast on Gray-cheeked Thrush)
and lower mandible has orange-pink base.

bicknells
Most Bicknells have olive-brown or brown dorsal coloration, whereas most Gray-cheeked
have olive-gray or olive (Ouellet 1993).
In comparison to Gray-cheeked, Bicknells shows contrast between chestnut-tinged tail and wings, and rest of upperparts.
This may be obscured by worn, dull tail and wings, or low contrast in warmest brown birds.
Also shows warmer brown upperparts and a lighter buffy wash on the breast
(underlying the dark spots) than continental subarctic Gray-cheeked Thrush (C. m. aliciae).
This, combined with bright yellow to yellow-orange basal half or more of lower mandible,
provides a subtle but generally reliable method of separating Bicknells from aliciae Gray-cheeked Thrush.
Potential confusion with Gray-cheeked Thrushes of Newfoundland and nearby St. Lawrence estuary coasts (C. m. minimus), which show some chestnut edging on wings and tail, are generally warmer brown than the more olive-gray aliciae, and often have extensive pale yellow on the lower mandible, although apparently not as bright as Bicknells (McLaren 1995). In Bicknells, color of legs purp-lish flesh, with toes darker than tarsi and soles of feet flesh to dull pale yellow; in Gray-cheeked, tarsi lighter flesh color, with toes invariably much darker and soles of feet brighter yellow than in Bicknells (Ouellet 1993).

Since the color is hard to tell in a photograph, I'm guessing gray-cheeked based on the buff on the chest and sides and the amount of yellow on the bill.


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RE: bird sightings 4

Both Hermits and Swainson's being reported. Not helpful I know. Maybe it is a cross. The tail is rusty colored but the body is pale and the spots not prominent. There are no spectacles of any note that I could see.

Is it an oven bird? LOL


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RE: bird sightings 4

I posted the photo on my SMAS site and received this back:

Susan:
It's a Hermit Thrush. The lack of the white spectacle rules out Swainson's and the overall warm brown coloration rules out both Swainson's and Gray-cheeked (as well as Bicknell's). There are lots of Hermit Thrushes moving north right now. In fact, before this cold front settled in forcing us to turn our furnace back on, we could hear them singing shortly after dawn. I still here them singing as I'm heading off for work around 0700 but it's not the same as hearing them while you're still in bed!
Another field mark to look for which will clinch Hermit Thrush is a ruddy or brick red tail. The tail is distinctly redder than the overall brownish wings and back and they have a tendency to bob it up and down frequently when perched on even when just on the ground.
Nice photo!
Tyler


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RE: bird sightings 4

Glad you found out what it was - the spots fooled me because every hermit thrush I've seen has been much more heavily spotted. Maybe local variations come into play here, or perhaps a young bird ???

FTM, your photos are wonderful. I feel like I can reach out and touch your bloodroots. The second to last one with the fern(???) coming up out of the dried leaves is a great shot. I did notice your bloodroots seem to have double blooms compared to mine. I can't believe your hepatica has already bloomed, I hope I didn't miss mine blooming.

I actually used the Roundup concentrate on the cut ends of the honeysuckle and that didn't do it, and didn't help much at the local park which is what they did too. I've thought about cutting it down to a manageable size and spraying the leaves with roundup and then covering it with black plastic bags (which is what I had to do to get rid of some english ivy) but it will be tough to get very far that way considering how much I have. I have been digging some of it and then planting a bush in it's place but it's not feasible to do that with much of it. I am also hesitant to do too much until fall considering how many birds nest in the thickets. Too bad the emerald ash borer doesn't like honeysuckle instead ... big SIGH. That weed wrench looks like a handy tool though, and if it doesn't disrupt the ground as much as digging the bushes up than it might help in preventing new seedlings.

I had a major explosion of gold finches this weekend. I stopped counting at 100 - they were fighting over the feeders so bad I did some serious ground feeding. And I think every one of them was singing and chirping, it was incredibly loud. And alot like the peepers, they would all suddenly stop and then one would start, and another and then all of sudden they would all be at it again. Very cheerful on a cold spring day. Also had 5 purple finches, all females and perhaps a young male just starting to show some color. And had a dozen chipping sparrows and three field sparrows, they make the fox and white-throateds look like giants! I was really hoping that I would get Number 100 this weekend with the cold weather but I guess I will have to keep watching.


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RE: goldfinches

Here's my goldfinch explosion - I have two of these feeders, they each have a double platform which were filled with the finches plus a couple of little feeders and a thistle sock. They are in a variety of molting stages and some were looking a bit ragged!

Like that pretty lawn?????


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RE: bird sightings 4

thanks, brenda, et al (in case i forget to acknowledge someone!).

jean, i thought my bloodroot looked different! it must be a bit subtle. our hepatica tends to come up in the cold and the foliage was still curled and fuzzy. when it warmed up, it acted like it was going away. now, with 30 degrees, it was amazingly still up.

i found that fern in the flower bed at just the right time. those pics are thanks to my new diggie from christmas! it can be fussy though. it will not focus on the sky!

i have been too busy for the birds again. i did notice something today. growing up in kankakee, we never had sea gulls, EVER! they are there now!


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RE: bird sightings 4

Jean - that lawn does look pretty to me as it has biodiversity and is not the ecological wasteland of the golf course lawn that overuses pesticides/fertilizers/insecticides and water resources. Yes, that is a grand lawn! I love the finch photos! Gregarious birds. I've had a few banging into my window but thankfully is is only a few feet from the feeder so crazed birds or deaths.

Regarding the honeysuckle (I did mean cut it back and spray the whole plant (cut ends included) with double strength round-up and cover with black plastic for as long as you can. You are right not to do it now with nests in there, but will there ever be a good time? Fall might have winter shelter interest. Maybe late winter/early spring next year before the birds nest and hard winter is over. It will probably take more than one or two seasons to claim success only to have the birds poop more seeds into the area from elsewhere.

I had three more answer it is a hermit and you are probably right it is an immature bird as I thought it was a tad pale color overall. My group said Swainson's and Grey-Cheeked are very shy and the Hermit is almost tame. One of the members has one he calls 'The Town Crier' because it sings so much up close. LOL

Hermits are here in mass right now, moving north to breeding grounds. The others are not here in force yet as per my group, although I did hear of sporadic Swainson sightings.

CT


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RE: bird sightings 4

  • Posted by youreit z9b CA Sunset z8-9 (My Page) on
    Tue, Apr 10, 07 at 12:22

I know what you mean about the goldfinch explosion, Jean! Mine is still going on, and I ran out of thistle for them! The guilt is killing me. I have to make a run into town today to rid myself of this feeling! LOL Since I only have one feeder, I should pick up about 10 more. :D

One problem that comes with the tons of birds is the odds of them hitting the window. :( We found a dead one the other day after returning home, but one hit pretty hard while we were home. He was still alive, so I craddled him for about 5 minutes, whispering sweet nothings, until he realized I wasn't a bird and took off. :) Amazing experience, looking into the face of one of those little darlings.

Brenda


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RE: bird sightings 4

My daughter and s-i-l came over for dinner on Easter Sunday. It takes them about 30 minutes to drive from their house to mine. With the two feet of snow we had I really didn't think they would make it. I told them to arrive around noon. They got to my house around 1:30. I asked them if the roads were bad. They said it wasn't the roads it was the robins. I looked at them and asked them if they wanted to explain. Once they passed Avon Lake heading toward Cleveland (where we got all the snow) the only thing that was clear of deep snow were the roads so where were the robins landing? On the highway. She said they had to go slow in order not to hit them. Good thing there wasn't a lot of traffic out. She told me to look out the window at the street and sure enough there were about twenty robins hopping up and down the tire tracks. When my son and s-i-l started shoveling the driveway they knocked on the front door to point out my crab apple tree housing about thirty robins (of course I didn't take a picture). The tree only stands four feet tall and there were more robins than tree. Once they were done shoveling the driveway the robins flew out of the tree to the driveway. First time I ever seen anything like this. But the snow was so deep everywhere there was really no place for them to land. Only had oranges in the house so I cut one in half and put it in the driveway. Wished I would have had some raisins on hand.

Jenny


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RE: bird sightings 4

Aw, Brenda, I know what that's like. I held a kinglet this fall for just a brief moment to be sure he was okay. I was doing pretty good last summer preventing window strikes with some white stickers. I found out this winter that white stickers on a reflection of white snow is not all that helpful! So I know have a variety of boards, cardboard, etc in all my windows until it greens up again. I have strings with bright colored feathers that attach to the sliding glass doors with suction cups. But I also went through a month of no hawks hanging around so there was alot less panic flying.

Jenny, I had a few robins hanging around all winter. They look so miserable in the snow! I had one camp out in my platform feeder eating sunflower seeds. But thirty in one tree, that must have been a sight!


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RE: bird sightings 4

  • Posted by youreit z9b CA Sunset z8-9 (My Page) on
    Thu, Apr 12, 07 at 11:38

What an awesome sight, Jenny! I'm always a bit surprised, and a little taken aback, when I see only ONE robin in my creek. A tree full of them would be so amazing! They are the cutest chunk-style birds. :)

I've been trying to figure out what the best thing would be to put in the windows, Jean. But you're saying anything is better than nothing, right? :) I hear ya. And I better get to it, since I'm counting at least 25 goldies (plus assorted house finches) on the old dog runner, and 8 more on the new thistle feeder...not even counting the ones on the ground. One false alarm and....yikes!

Brenda


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RE: bird sightings 4

jeanners spring photo in here is just ethereal! lol, i first typed etherear. look out ether! its your rear!


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