Sunday, December 30, 2007

New hawk?

These photos are of a hawk that was hanging around the yard all day long. He (she?) came through 6 or 7 times throughout the day. I know the photos are awful but they were captured with a camcorder and then photographed from that. Any ideas as to what type of hawk this is would be greatly appreciated. We typically get Cooper's, sharp-shinned, kestrels and did get 1 northern harrier a few weeks ago but none of them look like this one. Thanks for your input.

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Friday, December 21, 2007

Feeder Watcher's

Well, thanks to my wonderful and generous girlfriend, I am now an official FeederWatcher! I am so excited. We are waiting for the packet to come in the mail so that I can gain access with the log in info, not to mention all of the other goodies. Now, not only do I have a completely credible excuse to sit and watch/count the birds but the info that we gather will be used by backyard birders, scientists and ornithologists around the country. That is so incredible and wonderful to me that I cannot put it into words.

Ever since we first started to watch birds, I have felt a sense of community and kinship with a whole new group of people. That feeling grows stronger with each passing day. Some of these people, well okay most, we haven't ever spoken or corresponded with and probably never will, but yet we are all part of something greater than any one of us. We all have something to bring to the table. That is fantastic to me. In my old life, 20 years spent in the restaurant industry, I didn't meet and confer with the "great culinary minds". They didn't call and ask me about a recipe that I have or a new cooking technique. I didn't get emails asking about my experience. But in this new and wonder-filled life, I do correspond with some of the "great birding minds". I speak with other backyard birders and with ornithologists. I do get emails asking me what we're feeding or what types of birds we are seeing. I get kudos for some of my photos from people who have been photographing birds all their life. Me. Lil' ol' me. Someone who, a few years ago, didn't know the difference between a house sparrow and a house finch. It's almost overwhelming to me sometimes. But in the end, it's awesome.

So yes, we are now officially FeederWatcher's and I encourage anyone who is interested in becoming a part of Project FeederWatch to check it out at .

Now, as for how the backyard is going, we are getting all the regulars. Daily visitors include: Purple, House, American and Lesser finches, tons of Pine Siskins, Juncos, Juncos and more Juncos, Spotted Towhee, Black-Capped and Chestnut-Backed Chickadees, Red-Breasted Nuthatch, Yellow-Rumped Warblers, Bushtits, Northern Flickers, Downy Woodpeckers, Golden-Crowned, White-Crowned, House, Song and Fox Sparrows, Scrub and Steller Jays, Cooper's and Sharp-Shinned Hawks and, kind of strange, one lone Am. Robin.

The Robin comes in everyday and feeds on a couple of our Cotoneasters and usually takes a bath. But she (he?) is alone. In the last month I haven't seen another Robin in the yard. I haven't heard any in the neighborhood. Just this single Robin. I'm glad that it visits but I sure would mind a flock to come in, either. It seems healthy and active. I guess it just prefers a quiter existance.

Thanks for reading and have a great birding day.

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Friday, December 14, 2007

Townsend's Warbler

We had a Townsend's warbler in the yard this morning! We saw one a month or two ago but not since. The Audubon warblers are still hanging out, in fact, we had 5 in the yard yesterday. Not much else to report, just excited to have another warbler. Although, we did see the Bewick's wren the other day. We hadn't seen him in a while, either.

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Monday, December 10, 2007

Just an update

Well, the yard is still a busy, busy place. 32 species recorded in just one day! This is the 4th day in a row that the yellow-rumped warblers have visited the yard. Actually, they're not visiting, they are staying. They were the first birds in the yard this morning and the last ones to leave tonight. We saw the bewick's wren today for the first time in about 2 months. I thought he had moved somewhere else, but I guess not. There are a 2 or 3 new sounds around the neighborhood but we haven't been able to pin point what they are yet. We are not very experienced in birding by ear but we know that they are definitely new sounds. I have noticed a lot more lessers in the yard over the last few days, too. We normally get quite a few as it is, but, there are quite a few more now.

I absolutely love being a birder. Everyday is so exciting. Everyday could bring you a new species or a beautiful variant or an irruptive flock of...anything! Very exciting. I used to think that a lot of things were exciting. Drinking, gambling, golf, online gaming, etc. I didn't have a clue. I might have enjoyed those things but I sure as heck didn't love 'em. But I'll tell you what. I sure do love those birdies!

Have a great birding day.

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Saturday, December 8, 2007

Yellow-rumped warbler

We saw 3 yellow-rumped warblers (Audubon's) in the yard this morning. The first ones of the year. They were going nuts for the new suet cakes we put out. We have a couple of plain suet cakes, a couple of nut blends, a berry blend and an orange suet. They really seemed to like the orange one.

Also had a mourning dove in the yard 2 days in a row. Towhees are starting to become daily visitors, too. There are a lot of new sounds in the yard as well so I know there are some new guys around but they are still lurking in the shadows.

Please let us know what you all are seeing lately. Take care and have a wonderful birding day!

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Wednesday, December 5, 2007

Vesper Sparrow?

I believe that I just saw a Vesper Sparrow in the backyard. He was hopping around on the ground with a few juncos but I scared him and he flew into some grapevine that we have and then he flew away. I'm almost positive that it was a vesper: long tail with white edges; distinctive face pattern and kind of a spiky hair-do. I really wish that I had snapped a photo but it happened so fast that I just tried to keep my eye on him and notice the markings. Has anyone else seen a vesper sparrow in the Portland, OR area? I'd love to have some conformation or some ideas. Thanks and have a great and productive birding day.

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Tuesday, December 4, 2007

After the storm

Well, the storm is finally over. Portland didn't get it nearly as bad as our coast did but we still got a ton of rain. But, our little visitors are troopers! Our yard was just as busy (if not busier) as it usually is. We also had a new (and somewhat unwelcome) visitor to the yard yesterday. I was watching a flock of lessers, americans and siskins, when a very large Northern Harrier swooped in and tried to nab one of them. He was unsuccessful but decided not to leave. He landed on our back fence and watched the yard very closely for a couple of minutes. By the time I located the camera and got outside, he was off again. Within about fifteen minutes the yard was buzzing with activity again. We get cooper's, sharp-shinned and kestrels frequently but this was my first backyard sighting of the harrier.

I saw more towhees today than I have before. I guess all the mountain snow is driving them lower. They sure are fun birds to watch (aren't they all?!) The female was really going to town with her feet. She was kicking dirt almost 2 feet behind her! More pine siskins in the yard than ever before, too. I'd love to hear about what others are seeing in their yards this week. Thanks and have a great day!

The photo above is one I got of one of our resident male Anna's hummingbirds. He was born this year and has become a very tame little guy. We just keep on letting him think that this is his yard. At least, that's what he tells everyone else who comes in the yard.

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