Saturday, November 29, 2008

Woodpeckers, Sparrows and Nuthatches

Hi all! Well, let me start off by saying that we have now moved into the 21st Century! Yep, that's right, we got high-speed Internet! Christmas came a little early this year. Maybe we will be inclined to blog a little more now (since it won't take 5 hrs to post)!

Now, onto the yard! The first thing this morning we noticed a Downy Woodpecker fly into the yard. Then we saw a second one. It's always fun to get a couple of them in the yard at the same time. What happened next, we had never seen before. They both flew into the same apple tree and started "sputtering" vocalizations and (what looked to be) fighting with each other. Then, one of the Downy flattened himself on a limb of the tree and sat absolutely motionless for about 5 minutes, while the other foraged around the tree. Then, both Downy started bobbing their heads up and down, doing a bill-waving dance, practicing a full wing threat displays and fluttering around from limb to limb. This went on for about 15 minutes before they abruptly stopped and flew into another tree and started foraging for insects again.

This is odd to us because this seems to be a mixture of courting/mating rituals and some type of rival/threat behavior. Also, I do know that the male and female Downy Woodpeckers maintain different feeding locations during the winter, but we constantly see the male and female in the yard at the same time. So, we just aren't sure what t think. Has anyone witnessed anything like this? If so, we would love to hear from you.

This has been a busy few days in the yard. We have had First of Season: Golden-Crowned Kinglets, Yellow-Rumped and Townsend's Warbler and Fox Sparrows (pics below)! The Golden-Crowned Kinglets are actually the first ones we have ever seen in our yard! Fun stuff!

On to the pictures...hope you enjoy and good birding to everyone!

Here is the male Downy. He flattened himself on this limb and didn't move at all for 5 minutes. The female is down towards the bottom of the tree (not in view) foraging in the bark.

After becoming active again, this male Downy climbed to the top of this tree branch and started bobbing up and down and splaying his tail feathers.

He did this for quite a few minutes while the other Downy was fluttering around the same tree.

He would stop every once in a while and hold still for 15 or 20 seconds before resuming his odd behavior.

It was incredible to watch. We felt lucky to see this "act".

Here's the male getting closer to the female.

He was still watching her from this perch.

He would not sit still after a while. He kept changing positions and seriously bobbing his head.

"Look at me!! I'm so pretty"!!

Finally, they got close enough to each other for me to get them in the same frame.

This is where they both started bobbing up and down and spreading their wings and tails.

Fluttering from branch to branch.

The male hopped to a branch right above me.

After I took this photo, he flew off into another tree and started acting "normally".

Later, the female came back for more suet.

While she was feeding on one suet block, the male went to another.

We noticed an odd acting "sparrowlike" bird by our bramble pile yesterday. As I got closer, I saw that it was a Fox Sparrow! It's about time!

The can look so much like the Song Sparrow, and yet, so different.

Notice the "diamonds" on the breast. A very tell-tale sign that it's a Fox.

The Fox is also slightly larger than the Song Sparrow.

The Fox and The Song finally decided to get close enough that I could photograph them both at the same time. Thanks guys!

You can start to see their differences. But remember, these are just 2 specimens. Each Song and Fox Sparrow can look so much different than the next.

A very blurry shot of the Golden-Crowned Kinglet. It's the only usable photo that I took of the little spazzes!

One of our bramble-pile Golden-Crowned Sparrows.

The Red-Breasted Nuthatch is always fun to photograph.

So photogenic!
Look at that upturned bill. What a snob!
A Yellow-Rumped Warbler attempting to land on a suet feeder.
It takes him 4 or 5 tried before he seems to feel comfortable enough to land on it.
And here is yet another blurry shot. This is also a Yellow-Rumped Warbler. Me thinks me needs to work on my camera skills!

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Wednesday, November 26, 2008

Happy Thanksgiving!

Well, it's been a busy week with Thanksgiving coming up so we haven't been doing too much birding. And, with the days getting shorter, we have almost no time during the week. We always scan the backyard when we get home but usually there's not a lot of activity (or daylight). But, we still see signs of birdie visits (empty feeders, no suet) so we know they are still with us. Tomorrow, we will give them a little extra so that they can enjoy a feast, too!

Here are a few photos that we have been lucky enough to grab this week. We hope you enjoy the picture and wish wish everyone a great Thanksgiving!

The Black-Capped Chickadees are visiting more and more.

The are coming in bigger groups, too.

The Sharp-Shinned Hawks are still visiting frequently. We see signs of them, too. After one of their visits there are sometimes feeders laying on the ground (we assume this is because they are using their "bumping" technique).

The Cooper's Hawks still like to swing by, too.

Waiting ever so patiently for a bird to happen by.

The Pine Siskin numbers have dwarfed all the other finches we get, but there is still quite a few Lesser and American Goldfinches hanging around. The Lessers stay with us all year long!

Siskins and Lessers sharing a dinner table.

The Squirrel and the Scrub-Jay.

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Sunday, November 23, 2008

Commonwealth Park in Beaverton

Well yesterday, after attending the Wild Arts Festival, Michelle and I decided to drive out to Commonwealth Lake Park out by her office in Beaverton. We were not expecting to see too much but we were pleasantly surprised when we got there. We saw quite a few species and got a new Life List Bird (we had not yet IDed the Ring-Billed Gull)!

We stayed for about an hour and had a great time. Here are a few of the photos form our visit. Thanks for stopping by!

Here's your sign! I could tell you how to get there but I promise that I would get you lost. It's not hard to find, I just suck at giving directions. That is why God invented Google Maps!

A non-breeding Pied-Billed Grebe. He was the only one of his kind that we saw. They are neat little birds, though.

An American Coot. We saw quite a few of them and this one was nice enough to pose for the camera. I nominate the Coot's feet for the "Weirdest Foot Award".

From across the lake we spotted this sleeping Blue Heron. So, after we got around to the other side, I crawled through the trees and mud to see if I could get a little closer to him.

I finally found him after a little search. He wasn't sleeping anymore.

He kept his gorgeous yellow eyes on me the entire time. I couldn't get any clear shot of him so I had to put the camera on manual focus to try and get him. It kind of worked.

This is a female Common Merganser. She was swimming around with 5 other females but no males.

We eventually saw the male Common Merganser down at the other end of the lake. There were 5 males. Kind of funny that they were split up by sexes.

Here is the newest addition to our Life List. A Ring-Billed Gull!

This is a Herring Gull. It took us a while to ID him but one of the photos we took, shows that he actually has a light eye, but this photo makes it look dark.

A male Bufflehead. Like the Pied-Billed Grebe, he was the only one of his kind that we found.

This is a domestic duck. Obviously some type of Mallard. I don't normally photograph the domestic ones, but he was just too pretty not to take a picture of.

An American Wigeon. There was well over 100 of them at the lake. There were 4 separate flocks of them with up to 50 birds in each flock. Such gorgeous waterfowl!

One of the smaller flocks of Wigeons. What a beautiful day it was!

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