Wednesday, May 11, 2011


Identifying our backyard birds is something I've been wanting to do for a long, long time. We're lucky ~ we have a lot of them. At this time of year we particularly enjoy their company, because they're really active and we're outside much more often. This year we're especially enjoying the baby chickadees that are living inside our basketball goal. Everyone has very strict orders not to play basketball until the babies are gone. So we listen to them calling out to their parents and we watch the parents working SO HARD to keep their babies fed. We can hear lots of other baby birds crying out but their nests are not within sight for us.

This weekend I finally had some free time and I sat out back with some binoculars and a bird book (that I've owned for a hundred years!). Most of the regulars I knew already. But I discovered two new birds that I hadn't even noticed before and I managed to ID them. It was exciting! They're obviously the more quiet, shy ones ~ how they've managed to escape my attention for this long is beyond me. Anyway, I don't have a great camera so I can't get great shots of "our birds" ~ I wish I could. So I am borrowing these images from (yes, I know the irony when they're the type of company to create products to harm the birds ~ but they had good photos).

American Goldfinch

American Goldfinch: We have a finch feeder filled with thistle so we get lots of finches ~ I know I shouldn't be partial but I really love the bright yellow ones.

House Finch

House Finch: We have lots of these as well. The house finches will actually come to our window feeder and eat seeds. The yellow ones usually don't.

American Robin

American Robin: Go out to our backyard at any time of day and you will find a robin digging around in the grass. They are extremely active. In my experience they're also the most daring ~ they allow me closer than any of the other birds.

Black-Capped Chickadee

Black-Capped Chickadee: Oh how I love these birds. They're so tiny and so beautiful. I'm so happy they decided to build a nest in our basketball goal!!! I wish I could get a view of those little baby chickadees....

Eastern Bluebird

Eastern Bluebird: I don't get to see these too often, unfortunately. But it's always an occasion when they do stop by. My dad built a bluebird house for me last year and I didn't get to install it in time for this year's nest. Next year....

The Northern Cardinal. He gets a big photo because he is the king of our yard. We named him Harry Winston several years ago. He and his girl (who is SO LOVELY!) are always around. He's so vibrant that you can pick him out no matter where he is. I love his song ~ he must have an easy time finding a mate!

* Yes, I realize it's not the same cardinal every year but, to my knowledge, Sophie doesn't know that. You can tell by his coat. Last year our Harry Winston was so intensely red it would break your heart to look at him. He was the most magnificent one yet. Our guy this year is not as vibrant and has some black feathers intermixed. But we love him just the same!

The two newbies:

Brown Thrasher

Brown Thrasher: Now that I know he's here and I have him identified, I see him every day. He's definitely quiet and walks softly around the garden, usually at a distance from the deck & patio. He's gorgeous though and I'm so happy he's here.

Mourning Dove

Mourning Dove: This one's been around for a while although I see her less regularly. But I had no idea what type of bird she was. I usually see her on the ground below our big feeder digging around in the leaves and pine needles. She's also quiet and moves around very gently and gracefully. I like her.

I can't forget:

Our resident red-tailed hawk. She's something else. I see her about once a month when she parks herself in our yard. Ask anyone who's been lucky enough to be around when she drops by for a visit....she is large and intimidating. I read yesterday that these hawks have a territory of about 240 acres. Wow. When she stops by for a visit, I keep my child and my dogs within close distance. There's no telling what she's capable of! {this image via Wikipedia}

Last Note:

There are a few other birds that I see around from time to time. Most of them are nondescript and black. Maybe European starlings? We also see crows around from time to time but the only time you see them is when the smaller birds are screeching and chasing them away. Lastly, it appears that we have some type of sparrow residing in our front yard. I'm never out front so I haven't been able to identify which type of sparrow and I don't know much about his/her habits, etc. On the ride to school this morning, in our neighbor's yard, we saw a bunny chasing three crows around the yard. It looked like they were trying to infiltrate her nest and I assume she has some babies. It was rather heartbreaking and it took everything I had not to jump out and give her a hand. When I returned home, they had all disappeared. I am hoping there was a good ending!!!

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