the bird parade

while out digging yesterday i was having fun with the killdeer pair that has returned again to nest in the fenced garden. i know it is the same pair as last season because they are fairly tame when i'm around. they might flutter a little and call and try to lure me away, but it is a real half-hearted effort. within a few moments they settled down. Mom (or Dad) will go back to the nest and sit on their eggs. the other will hop around or wander off. i'm not sure if the one brings food for the other or not or if they take turns sitting on the eggs. sometimes when i'm taking a breather i'll sit down and bob my head after the bird does. trying to convey the fact that i have no plans to eat their eggs or them. it makes for a much more peaceful gardening experience.
as i was digging i would come across a june bug or a beetle larva (wire worms aka click beetles are common too) and toss in over near the killdeer, but i didn't watch to see if the bird actually was eating them or not.
after i finished digging that garden for the day i was sitting in the pathway taking a break -- watching the birds and listening to see how many different bird calls i could sort out. i came across another june bug and this time i watched when i tossed it towards the killdeer to see if it ate it. hopped right after it and gobbled it up. gave me a good chuckle. then a bit later it was off and came back and scootched the eggs to rotate them. that was worth a good laugh.
the bird parade here is pretty varied: we have the larger birds passing over or hunting in the ditches: geese, ducks (several species), herons. we have the larger ground feeders: turkeys and ring-necked pheasants that pass through. we have the large birds of prey and the scavengers: turkey vultures, hawks, owls, eagles including the impressive bald eagles that will pick at the road kill. then the crows and blue jays.
getting into the regular crew there are cardinals, chickadees, house finches, blue birds, robins, northern thrashers, cat birds, redwing blackbirds, grackles, morning doves, humming birds, and the killdeer.
transitory but daily visits from the flying acrobatic troupe of purple martins and barn swallows.
once in a while we'll see an oriole or wood pecker. i'm hoping the large dead tree i've left standing to the north will eventually be a home for some wood peckers or owls as it slowly falls apart.
that's about thirty characters. i'm sure i've missed some of the smaller birds that pop around in the bushes or those that are similar to others in color or shape.
one critter that deserves honorable mention that should be considered a bird is the giant dragon fly as it is about as big as the hummingbirds.
saw the first snake of the season yesterday. about two feet long. fairly regular type seen around here so i didn't stop to take a closer look. next time i should so i can look it up to be more sure of what i'm seeing.
was going to head out to weed a little today but it started sprinkling so i thought to take a few minutes. before giving up completely i did get the hoses out and got the garden i worked on yesterday watered in and was able to see Ma's new work of yard art. will have to get a picture of that as it's a keeper.
ok, that's enough rambles for today, but it would be interesting to hear what others have for bird life, critter happenings in their gardens, so get out your guides and memory and let's hear some stories.
songbird
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(snip)> ok, that's enough rambles for today, but it

Nice post 'bird. I wish I knew what some of those birds were as then I'd be able to picture them and I'd probably also know a bit about their habits. I recognise the name of bluejar as Sheldon on the TV show BBT had one on his window sill.
We too have lots of birds in our garden and the wider area of the farm. Himself (my SO) is a bit of a twitcher and last time I asked him how many species he had on his bird list of the birds he'd seen here on our land, there were over 60 different types of birds.
My favourites of those are the wedge tailed eagles, which are huge birds and we see it soaring on the thermals above the gardem, then I also love the Superb Blue wrens and all the tiny little birds that flitter and twitter as they go too and fro and bathe in the various bird baths roudn the place, The other birds I love are the Grey Shrike Thushes, which I call the "Grey Garden JHoppers" becaus ehty hop roudn the garden and are very freindly and will stay close as one tuens obver the soil. Then I love the Choughs which are real raucous scallywags - they buld mud nests that they occupy year after year and to keep the gene pool viable, they coax other flocks young to come to them and then effectivley kidnap them so they join their flock.
Enough. I could bore on and on about the birdy doings in our garden. Suffice to say that we really enjoy our bird life and take a lot of note about what they are doing and where they are nesting and we have conversations about what we've seen - such a quiet and simple life we lead. But so darned satisfying. But I digress - not so welcome are the Currawongs who work the garden in pairs with one playing the role of the look out as they track and try to kill the tiny birds. Going out with a long metal object with a stock end in one's hand usually works to get rid of them for a short time.
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Farm1 wrote:

:) and i knew i forgot something, the goldfinch, a very bright canary yellow bird, smaller in size, loves thistles, coneflowers, chickory and often feeds off the phlox seeds too if i don't hide or net some to save.
seagulls may visit the farm fields around us but i've never seen one in the yard here. it's a bit too busy for them i think.

that is about double of what i've seen here so far but i am not watching many of the smaller birds so i'm sure i'm missing some of those.
the bird that consistently makes me laugh is the catbird, it is a medium sized bird (about 7-9 inches long), fairly plump, grays and blacks, but with a bit of a black cap on top of the head. what is so funny is the calls, it usually just rambles on and on, but it repeats things twice, but it has a wide variety of calls. you never quite know what is going to come next. then the feature of the bird and why it is called a cat bird is because it makes a call that sounds like a cat meow. it has taken up it's favorite spot at the top of the larger dead tree where it can see all that is going on. in past years the grackles were so numerous as to keep many of the smaller birds away. the past few years i have been moving the grackles along with the air rifle and the variety of birds overall has greatly increased.

we have turkey vultures, hawks and eagles that will soar. the mating flights of the turkey vultures are very interesting as they will gather and spiral for hours at a time, but they are not quite as dramatic as some of the hawks that will grab on each other and then plummet only to let go a short distance before the ground. it's the bird form of playing chicken i guess.

yeah, we are just uncovering the bird baths for this season. the birds don't start using them for a bit as the ditches are full of water. heavy rains last night and this morning so i won't be out planting or weeding today.

opportunistic feeders. about how big are these?

i've not heard of that before. interesting... :)

it gives us something to talk about too. the simple life is highly underrated. after other more exciting moments aplenty i'm quite content.

i've never seen active pair hunting like that in any of the birds here, but the grackles have been trouble makers here for the smaller birds. that is why i chase them off when i see them (and how they disgorge their chick's poop in the birdbaths. what a mess).
i really do want to see the northern thrashers have young sometime, the other showy birds (bluebirds, goldfinches, cardinals) have all had success here and i'm not even sure the thrashers haven't, but i am unsure about seeing any nest or young for them. i like to keep an eye peeled just in case...
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On 4/30/2013 3:37 PM, songbird wrote:

It's funny how for so long I thought that the squirrels' "bark" (alarm call) were coming from birds. (Same w/chipmunks come to I think of it) We have lots of squirrels here and they often raise a stink; my son & I mock & laugh at them. But then I realized here recently they really were sounding more like birds, and sure enough it was a catbird, imitating a squirrel "bark." Strangely, I haven't heard any of them "meow" in a very long time. Guess there aren't many cats around to listen to? But there are plenty of other birds they imitate. The males with the biggest repertoires get the females, so for them it's the more the merrier.
it has taken

"Sittin' in the catbird seat," as I used to say when my little niece used to ride on my dad's shoulders. Best place there was to be :)
in

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Nelly W wrote:

they are still out there in the north hedge. once in a while i see them poking around on the ground in the gardens.

:) ah, now that expression clicks with my memory of someone else saying that too, quite some time ago. good phrase.
today i've caught one glimpse of a bright red bird that is not a cardinal, i'm hoping it's a scarlett tanager, but until i get a better look at it i can't give a positive id.
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We mostly have Stellar Jays, and Chickadees here on the edge of the redwoods. The closest we have to a year round songbird is the Pileated Woodpecker. At least the Pileated Woodpecker sounds exotic. Some call the Stellar Jay a songbird, but not to my ears.In the spring, we do get some songbirds as they migrate to where ever it is that they are going. Our best are the Western Kingbird, American Robin, Vesper Sparrow. The forests in Europe are full of song birds, but we're lucky to get a few chirps out of the Chicadees for most of the year. Maybe if we gave them bird houses, with a yearly cleanings, as they do in the Blackforest, we would have more songbirds.
If we go out, into the pasture lands, there are the occasional meadow larks, who always please. Where ever there is standing, or slow moving water, you'll find ducks, Pelicans, and Egrets. Where ever you find ducks, you'll find Coots aka Mud-hens. At night, if you're lucky, there are barn owls, which are guaranteed to scare the poo right out of you. They are big birds with big bills, and big claws. This time of year we also get slimed by those beautiful Canadian Geese, as they wander back home.
In the non-songbird category we have either the Rufous, or Black-chinned Hummingbird (or both), and the Ruby-throated Hummingbird. The Hummingbirds are here pretty much year round. Last night I thought we were being attacked by a giant bumble bee as we ate outside, but it was just a hummingbird working the Chinese lanterns, one last time before dark.
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You can add Black-headed Grosbeak to my list. A pair have moved into our hedge. <http://www.enature.com/fieldguides/detail.asp?source=&parkid=&searchText =&allSpecies=y&shapeID=0&lshapeID=0&curAbbr=&lastViewfault&lastGroup=1 &lastRegion45&lastFilter=4&lastShapeName=&trackType=&curRegionID45& size=&habitat=&fruit=&color=&sortBymily&curFamilyID 4&regionSelect=9 5436&regionZIP436&curGroupID=1&lgfromWhere=&curPageNum=2>
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Surprised to see a jay hassling a crow that was easily twice his size.
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Billy wrote: ...

it is very common to watch much smaller birds harrassing larger hawks and crows in flight. being more agile the smaller birds really can do a great job at not much risk to themselves.
my nature moment today was going outside and finding parts of "something" on the front porch steps. i think it was parts of a rabbit, but i'm not sure. i wasn't about to dissect them. buried what was left near a plant. probably parts of a meal from a hawk or eagle, but such a strange place to find them (no real perch or overhang there). perhaps they were dropped in transit...
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My only previous observation of avian Davids, & Goliaths was contention between two roosters. It ended poorly for the bantam.
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snipped-for-privacy@withouta.net says...

I've seen solo sparrows chasing crows, owls and hawks across the sky.
In the latter two cases, it looked like a a single spitfire chasing a zeppelin.
Once I saw crows mobbing a Cooper's hawk (hunts birds on the wing) and it kept twisting in flight to try to snag a crow.
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We were also visited by a large bird (at least three foot wing span) and ALL the birds disappeared. I rarely see large birds under the canopy. I try to encourage songbirds, and I use eNature to try to identify them. <http://www.enature.com/birding/
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Billy wrote: ...

there was a great program on Nature a few weeks ago about woodland/rainforest eagles. very impressive birds that actively prey on monkeys. gives the old spine a shiver...
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On Friday, May 10, 2013 7:45:19 PM UTC-6, songbird wrote:

I suppose it would depend on how far one had descended down the family tree as to the danger involved.
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It's not a straight line, Roy.
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Today was my first sight of that large woodpecker. Startling. I'm used to seeing small ones.
Last week mockingbird making calls after midnight. Ok, there is a streetlight down the street.
Greg
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