Wednesday, January 30, 2008

Mating Chestnut-Backed Chickadee?

I was in the backyard looking to see what birdies might be lurking out there when I heard a very high pitched, trilly kind of call. I found the source in our Snowball bush, two chestnut-backed chickadees. They were chasing each other around the shrub for a while and then landed on a couple of branches. One was above the other, when the one on the lower branch, again started his (I'm assuming the gender) singing again. Only this time, I noticed he was holding his head high and fluttering his wings very rapidly at his sides the whole time he was belting out his trilly song. The female (again, assumption) was above him but watching him very closely. He continued to sing for a minute or so and then they both flew off into the Walnut tree. It was very cool to see!

Fueling up for the courting?

Here he is singing and fluttering. Kinda grainy but I think you can still see.

Here she is, watching him do his dance!
We wish you all good birding!

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Tuesday, January 29, 2008

A few photos

A busy day lies ahead of me, so I thought I would just quickly post a few photos of some of our regular visitors. We hope you enjoy and wish you all a great day!

A pair of Northern Flickers. We've had up to 6 in the yard at one time. Such awesome birds!

A sly little Red-Breasted Nuthatch. He comes around often but he's so quiet.

One of the 4 or 5 resident Song Sparrows we enjoy. We love waking up to their beautiful song!

American Goldfinches (We can't wait until they get their summer colors!)

Dark-Eyed Junco (Oregon race). There is usually 30-50 in the yard at any given time!

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Sunday, January 27, 2008

Night of the Living Duck

This is why you NEVER go to the duck pond when it's almost dark! We barely escaped with our lives!!
Click on the photo if you dare...
Good birding to all!

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A quick trip

We had an errand to run in Beaverton yesterday. We stopped at the duck pond just off of Murray and Scholls. We were only there for a few minutes but we were able to see Canada Goose, Mallards, Canvasbacks and Wigeons, both American and Eurasian! We hadn't been able to add any of these to this years list, so it was very exciting. This was our first attempt to identify waterfowl of any kind. We were able to identify some of them from our books and the photos we took but others weren't in any of the books nor could we find a good site online. If anyone has a link to a good site for identifying waterfowl, it would be greatly appreciated. Here are some of the photos from yesterday. What types do you see?

Then, on the drive back to Portland, we took the back roads and were able to spot an American Kestrel and at least 3 unidentified hawks. Not too bad for just running an errand.

Let us know what you think. Thanks and good birding.

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Thursday, January 24, 2008

So far this year

This is a list of the birds that we have seen so far this year:

1) Am. Crow
2) Am. Goldfinch
3) Am. Robin
4) Anna's Hummingbird
5) Bewick's Wren
6) Black-Capped Chickadee
7) Bushtit
8) Canada Goose
9) Cedar Waxwing
10) Chestnut-Backed Chickadee
11) Common Raven
12) Cooper's hawk
13) Dark-Eyed Junco
14) Downy Woodpecker
15) Euopean Starling
16) Fox Sparrow
17) Golden-Crowned Kinglet
18) Golden-Crowned Sparrow
19) House Finch
20) House Sparrow
21) Lesser Goldfinch
22) Merlin
23) Northern Flicker
24) Pine Siskin
25) Purple finch
26) Red-Breasted Nuthatch
27) Red-tailed Hawk
28) Rock Pigeon
29) Ruby-Crowned Kinglet
30) Sharp-Shinned Hawk
31) Song Sparrow
32) Spotted Towhee
33) Steller's Jay
34) Townsend's Warbler
35) Varied Thrush
36) Western Scrub-Jay
37) White-Crowned Sparrow
38) Yellow-Rumper Warbler

I feel like I'm thanking people at the Academy Awards and I am so afraid that I'm leaving someone out...hopefully not. Not too bad for a beginning of the year backyard list and we have a couple of bird walks planned so I'm sure we will be adding a lot more! This is, by far, the most exciting hobby in the WORLD! I swear. Every day brings hope and promise. Every season bring wonder and awe. Every flit out of the corner of the eye, every crunch in the bush, every unidentified chirp might just be a new species! How awesome is that???? Pretty dang cool, if you ask me.

The Budgerigar, pictured above, flew into our yard last May and hung around for a while. We saw him a few times after that and then, unfortunately, never again. I think we can safely assume that we will not be adding him to our list this year. We searched high and low for an owner, newspaper, Internet, shelters...never found a report of a missing pet. So, here in Seth and Michelle's Birding World, we can only deduce that he must be a stray from a wild flock of Budgies! It could happen.

Good birding to all!

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Tuesday, January 22, 2008

Great Backyard Bird Count

The GBBC is coming up quickly! Mark your calender for Feb. 15-18. I don't know how many of you take part in the GBBC but I think everyone should. I know there are a lot of different counts to participate in out there but this is one of the easier ones. The only commitment they want is for you to watch birds for a least 15 minutes between the dates of Feb. 15-18. and then report those findings to them. For a complete breakdown of how it works just follow this link and you can get all the info.

This year, I decided to become a GBBC ambassador to help spread the word. Last year, Portland recorded 125 checklists and 85 species. I know that we, as a fairly decent sized birding community, can do a lot better than that! You can submit any amount of checklists that you want to. If you only want to submit one for you backyard, that's great. If you went to Sauvie's Island or Mt. tabor or where ever, you can submit checklists for those as well. Whatever you feel capable of doing, helps.

I know it's cliche but, Every Checklist Matters. It really does. So please, if you are interested, go to the above link or email me with any questions you might have. My door is always open (more cliche). Even if you don't have the time or inclination to enter the checklist yourself, email me your results and I will enter them on your behalf. Just let me know where you were, for how long were there and what you saw. If you have a little story or photo, send those along, too!

Portland (or Oregon for that matter) wasn't even in the top ten for checklists submitted. Oregon was #7 for total species reported (203) and that's awesome, but I still think we can do better. Oregon submitted 1,141 checklists. Michigan was 10th and submitted 2,437 checklist. I would love it for us to make it into the top ten! I have my work cut out for me but, fear not, I am prepared!

Good Birding and please help spread the word about the GBBC! Thank you.

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Tuesday, January 15, 2008

Birding database

Michelle designed a program this last weekend that has enhanced our bird watching/recording in countless ways. You search the database by the common name of the bird and it automatically brings up, of course, the common name, the Latin name, the family and (if applicable) the sub-family. You then enter the date you saw the bird, the location (i.e. backyard, Sauvie Island or where ever you saw the bird), feeder type (i.e. hopper, fly-thru, ground), food type, weather, temp, was it in a flock or a single, was it a yard bird, do you have pics and a notes section when you notice special markings or behavioral discrepancies (or whatever you think needs to go in the notes section). This is an AWESOME program.

After you have entered all of your data, you can then search by whatever criteria that you want to. You want to find only the birds seen in your backyard, that were eating black oil sunflower seeds, when the temp was over 50 degrees in January? You can. Find only the raptors that were at Sauvie Island in June? Found. Search by City, State or Country.Find the last time you saw the Variegated Fly-catcher? Done. It's a great program and I am so proud of her for designing it.

I'm sure that there are other programs that do similar things and have searchable options but, she wrote this one, on her own free time (which isn't much) and it didn't cost us a few hundred dollars. Now, we have a completely searchable life list, searchable documentation for every year that we have birded and it takes but a minute or so to find whatever criteria we are looking for.

It has made documenting birds so much easier. I am eternally grateful to her and we will continue to use this program for as long as we bird watch. If you would like to get this program just drop us a line and we'll be happy to get you set-up with this.

Good birding. Live. Laugh. Love.

Seth and Michelle.

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Monday, January 7, 2008

Male Anna's Hummy

This little guy was either born in the yard or very close to it. He has been a yard resident for at least the last 9 months, if not more. Everyday. Rain or shine. He's the first bird in and the last bird out. He let's us know when the sugar water needs to be changed (believe me, he does). When he was first born, he would fly off if we went into the backyard. Now, he will come and visit us on the porch not but 2 or 3 feet from us. He sits there while we talk to him and gives us very close fly-bys. He protect "his" yard with a vengeance sometimes and other times he is very willing to let every bird in the world in. He has brought us much joy over the year and we never tire of seeing him. Then, about 4 days ago, no Mr. Hummy. No "singing" from his usual perches. No close buzzing to say "hi". Nothing.

The first day we thought "oh, he's off chasing girls or exploring the neighborhood for a nesting site. 2nd day, we started to blame the resident female Anna's for chasing him off (because she's getting ready to nest). By the 3rd day of his absence, we were convinced that a local cat had gotten to him. Or maybe the wind storm had slammed him into a hard structure. By the 4th day, we were already mourning his death (and still blaming the female).

Then, yesterday, WOOOOOHOOOOOO. He was BACK. Michelle saw him in the morning but I missed him. She shouted "MR. HUMMY"!! (Original name, I know. Non the less, that's his name) but by the time I made it to the window, he was gone. Then, around 3pm yesterday, I saw him at his usual feeder (we have 5). I can't tell you how excited and relieved I was. It never ceases to amaze me how much we have grown to care, not only for birds in general, but for our resident birds. We truly love them. They are a part of the family. I'm sure I sound like some raving lunatic but, I assure you, I am not. I'm just a birder.

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Wednesday, January 2, 2008

Varied Thrushes

Yeah! The Varied Thrushes are finally starting to show up. We had one in the yard earlier this morning and then I looked out the window about an hour ago and saw 3 in the yard. I actually gasped. I snapped a couple of grainy photos before they flew off but how nice to see them again. There were a couple of robins hanging out in the same vicinity as the thrushes, too.

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First birds of 2008

Here is a list of what we saw yesterday. The birds with an asterisk are ones that we saw on our hike up at Council Crest. The hike was put together by the Sierra Club and there were 34 hikers. The hike was from Washington Park back to downtown Portland on back trails. It wasn't a bird hike and we appeared to be the only acting birders in the group. The pace was pretty fast so there wasn't much time to look for birds but we still saw a few and we enjoyed ourselves thoroughly.

Jan, 1 2008

Dark-Eyed Juncos

Pine Siskins

American Goldfinches

Lesser Goldfinches

Norther Flickers (both in the backyard and on the hike)

Anna's Hummingbird

American Robins

House Finches

Purple Finches

Black-Capped Chickadee

Chestnut-Backed Chickadee


Spotted Towhee

Red-Breasted Nuthatch

Yellow-rumped Warbler


Steller's Jay

Fox Sparrow

Song Sparrow

White-Crowned Sparrow

House Sparrow

European Starlings

American Crows

Common Ravens

Varied Thrush*

Golden-Crowned Kinglet*

26 species to start the new year out with. Not too bad of a start. We also heard Cedar Waxwings in the trees above us on our hike but failed to actually see one. I think that we are also participating in the CBC on Jan. 5th in the Forest Park area. They still need people in that area. So that should definitely add some more to our list of 2008.

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