Thursday, May 16, 2013

A Second Look--Birds, May 16, 2013

I love to watch birds. Not in a bird watcher kind of way like someone who has a life list of birds they've seen and hope to see. Also, not like a friend who knows every bird that comes to her feeder and gives each one of  them names according to their looks and actions. I'm not quite as serious as either one of those kind of watchers. But I love to watch birds all the same.

I know that birds have struggles like every other living thing, but to me they look joyful as they flit about. They look happy as they are looking for grubs, and they look satisfied while they are building their nests. Watching birds that have these apparent attitudes is one of the reasons I love to watch them.

My bird watching began two years ago when Ward got a bird feeder for his birthday. For the first year, most of our bird watching was really squirrel watching as we tried to keep the squirrels from eating the bird food. When that problem was solved, our bird watching began in earnest. We called excitedly to each other when we saw a bird on the feeder, and then called Aunt Martha, our bird expert, to help us identify it. 

As time went on, we learned to identify more birds by ourselves and I started taking pictures of them to share with you during my Second Looks. I'm not sure if you are aware of my bird picture taking methods, but I am shooting through my dirty kitchen windows. Sometimes it works and sometimes it doesn't. And many times the bird has moved on before I can get the camera in place. But I do it all the same. The birds have been particularly active the last few weeks as they find mates, build nests, and raise babies.  Below are pictures of some of this activity in my backyard. Many of the pictures are not of great quality (remember the dirty kitchen window thing) but I'm sharing them because they tell my story. I love bird watching.

Bluebird scoping area for nest site. It chose this box.

Inside the above box, five eggs were laid and recently hatched. It's hard to tell much about the baby birds since they are all in a big pile, but if you look carefully you can see in the last picture they are starting to develop feathers.

Bluebirds did not get to use this box because it is being used by a house sparrow. House sparrows are aggressive about nesting areas and some people remove their nest when they see it being built so the bluebirds will have a chance. I just couldn't do that. The birds have been building the nest for over a month and it has no eggs yet. The latest building material was blue jay feathers.

This is one of a pair of sparrows that has been building the above nest.

This is a house sparrow's egg shell that Ward found buried under the sparrow nesting box. A coincidence, yes. But an interesting one since that box is new to that location this year. I'm not sure where the egg came from.

Woodpeckers. We have also seen hairy and pileated woodpeckers at the feeder, but not recently.

Our woodpecker tree with a new hole for this year. I don't know if any of the above woodpeckers made it.

Cardinals. I have seen a lot of cardinal activity recently including dueling males fighting for mating rights. Sometimes the male and female show up to the feeder together and sometimes they don't.

These two house finches were eating dandelions together. The one on the left looks like a fledgling female. Notice the downy feathers on top of its head. The other one with the red head is a male.

Another finch. A gold finch.

Cat bird. This a new one for me and Aunt Martha promptly got a call.

Robin, Blue Jay, and Carolina Wren

I guess that's enough for now. And now for the disclaimer. I identified these birds to the best of my ability, but who knows if I got them all right.