Lucky to Live in The Woods…

Lucky to Live in The Woods…

With the Coronavirus running rampant throughout the world, many of us are staying home. I am very lucky to live with a backyard full of trees and a lake. Because of this I am able to see many birds each day and that does give me some entertainment.

I have a couple of feeders set up for the birds (and squirrels)… I get to see at least a dozen different species in the backyard and about a half a dozen at the lake.

Here are some of the birds that I’ve seen… (remember to stay healthy and stay safe!)

The Red-headed Woodpecker

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The Tufted Titmouse

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The Carolina Wren

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The Downy Woodpecker

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The Osprey

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And the Great Blue Heron just to name a few…

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Not Many Birds This Past Weekend…

Not Many Birds This Past Weekend…

Due to the Coronavirus, I’ve been staying in for the past couple of weeks… But I did manage to go out to a wildlife refuge this past weekend.

We are still allowed to leave our homes, so we went to an area where no one was and managed to get some exercise and fresh air while birding.

There really weren’t many birds out and about for some reason, but I did find a lonely Gadwall swimming in a pond.

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Other than that, I really didn’t see too many birds, but I did happen upon some other activity going on around the pond…

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There is a beaver around! I saw evidence of beaver activity all around the pond, then further down the path I came across his den…

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Unfortunately, it was the middle of the day, so there was no beaver in sight. I had been birding at this location in early January and none of this was there then, so this beaver has been very very busy!

Did you know that the beaver is mostly nocturnal and the second largest rodent in the world. They live around 10 years and there used to be 60 million beavers in the US!

 

Coronavirus Lockdown Can be an Introduction to Birding

Coronavirus Lockdown Can be an Introduction to Birding

Stay healthy and stay safe! Are you staying inside or practicing social distancing because of the Coronavirus? If you are lucky and have the internet available to you, you are able to watch movies or read all day long. But, some people aren’t so lucky or might want to do something a bit more constructive with their days.

Have you ever thought of birding? If you can get out of your house, find some woods or an isolated park or open area and just walk around and see what birds you can find. First of all this is a great way to get some much needed fresh air, it also helps with getting you some exercise and you can challenge your mind by trying to figure out what birds you see based on size, shape, location, colors, etc…

Before you head out, make sure that you are allowed leave your home. Then make sure to go to an area where no one is around. You should check online to see just what birds are in the area and what they look like so that you might have an easier time identifying them when you see them. Bringing a camera with you would help with that too, since you can look at the pictures when you get home.

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If you aren’t allowed out of your home, do you have windows where you can see the sky or trees or any areas that might have birds flying by? You can still check out what birds are around your home and try to identify the birds that you see.

There are also live web cameras online that you can watch and challenge yourself to identify each bird that you see. Here are some sites that I enjoy checking in on from time to time:

Tucsonaudubon.org

allaboutbirds.org

BirdWatchingHQ.com

Explore.org

Some of these sites have feeders set up where you can see birds flying in and out all day. Others are set up at the nest of one bird, but still very interesting to watch.

Remember to stay healthy and stay safe!

 

I Saw Something New Today…

I Saw Something New Today…

So earlier I was out in my backyard doing yard work yet again… I live on a lake, so I often stop to see what ducks or birds might be around. 

Well, today I saw an Eagle, probably a third year because it had white on it, but not too much white. I have seen first year, second, third, fourth and adult Eagles in my backyard. I figure that they are probably all siblings, with the adult being their parent.

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Anyway, this third year Eagle was circling around the lake in front of me. Then he dove down and tried to catch something in the lake. I thought, it must be after a fish, since that is what they usually eat. The Eagle continued to circle then dive down over and over again, not ever coming up with anything.

Then all of the sudden I see a duck fly off across the lake. I was surprised, was this Eagle actually after a duck? The Eagle didn’t leave when the duck did, he just kept on circling and diving… so I walked down closer to the lake. Then I finally saw a poor male Mallard duck, diving under water and each time he came up for air, swoop here comes the Eagles talons right above his head!!!

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After a few long moments of this horrible game the Eagle either gave up because it wasn’t working or saw me and got nervous, either way he finally flew away down the end of the lake.

After catching his breath, Mr. Mallard flew away in the other direction. I have never seen an Eagle try to catch anything other than fish, so I was very surprised to see it trying to catch a duck. The Eagle would have eaten like a king if he had actually succeeded! I’m sure the Mallard is happy that he gets to live for another day.

Don’t Let His Pretty Face Fool You, This Gull is a Thief…

Don’t Let His Pretty Face Fool You, This Gull is a Thief…

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Heermann’s Gull

In the spring this Gull can be found in its nesting grounds in western Mexico, then come summer, flocks of them will fly north along the Pacific Coast up as far north as Southern British Columbia. They flock north at the same time as the Brown Pelicans.

Their diet consists of fish and other small marine life, occasionally they will eat insects and eggs or their birds. Forages in flight over the ocean, they dip to the surface or plunge into the water for fish. 

They are not a large gull, but they are aggressive and pestering other birds to make them drop their food is one of their main ways of foraging! The reason they flock north at the same time as the Brown Pelican is because this is one of their favorite birds to steal food from! The Heermann’s Gull is often waiting to snatch fish right from the pelican’s pouch when the pelican comes up to the surface after plunging into the water for food.

The Heeermann’s Gull is a little stinker! Besides stealing the fish from the pouch of pelicans, they will harass other birds and force them to drop their catch! They are a pretty gull, but very aggressive to other birds when they want food!

It is the only North American gull that breeds south of the US, then comes north during their nonbreeding season. They head south again in December to begin the cycle again.

A Few Great Birding Locations in The US

A Few Great Birding Locations in The US

So you’re a new birder or new to an area and you just don’t know where to go birding. Well the Audubon app will tell you where birds have been seen in any given area throughout the US. But where are the really great location to go birding? Well, I do know of a few… Below I’ve listed a few places that I’ve been or plan to go soon

Plum Island/Parker River National Wildlife Refuge – Massachusetts (to be avoided in the month of July due to the vicious green head horsefly!) I found this beautiful Snowy Owl there a couple of years ago…

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Great Meadows National Wildlife Refuge – Massachusetts. I found this American Woodcock hiding in the low shrubbery along the path. The one and only time that I’ve seen one of these birds!

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Cape May –  New Jersey.

Acadia National Park – Maine.

Monterey Bay – California.

Bolsa Chica Ecological Reserve – California. I’ve seen soooo many great birds here, it’s hard to pick just one photo for you, this is really a wonderful birding location! Here is one of many Long-billed Curlews that I saw there.

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Santa Ana National Wildlife Refuge – Texas.

Merritt Island – Florida

Everglades National Park – Florida

Huntington Beach State Park – South Carolina. If you go there usually in the spring/summer you might just see the Roseate-Spoonbill. 

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Let me know if there are other good places to go to see lots of birds. If you go to these places, let me know what you see! Have Fun and Happy Birding!

The Acorn Woodpecker Doesn’t Clown Around With Food Storage

The Acorn Woodpecker Doesn’t Clown Around With Food Storage

Every time I go to California I see the Acorn Woodpecker. This Woodpecker always makes me laugh. I’m usually out birding when I hear a very noisy bird making his presence know to all! I will usually make a point of looking to see just what bird is making all the noise, even though I know, its the Acorn Woodpecker, then I see his clown-face and laugh a little…

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Below are photos of trees, these have been been used by the Acorn Woodpecker and the reason for their name!

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The birds will drill small holes in a dead tree, then take acorns in the fall and put them into the holes and eat them over the winter. They often use the same tree over several generations, which could have up to 50,000 holes in that one tree!

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They can be found from Oregon, USA all the way down south to Colombia. These birds don’t migrate, they don’t have to, they have their food stored up for the winter months!

The Common Merganser Isn’t so Common For me…

The Common Merganser Isn’t so Common For me…

The Common Merganser is a beautiful bird, with vibrant black, white and red colors!  It is one duck that I hardly ever see.

They can be found throughout all of the US except for Florida (not sure why they don’t like Florida)… but I never seem to be able to find them. Since I’ve been “really” birding, say the past 9 years, I’ve only seen them twice!

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Their population is stable in the US, but growing in Europe. In the UK, they call them “Goosander.” Also in Europe, some have started nesting in the artificial nesting sites that have been provided for them along the city waterways, but for some reason they have not done that in the US yet…

It Pays to Check Out The Rare Bird Sightings in Your Area!

It Pays to Check Out The Rare Bird Sightings in Your Area!

While I was up in New England, USA, I checked online for the rare bird sightings in the area that I was visiting. This is a great resource to help you find birds that you might not normally see.

In my case, there had been sightings of the Sandhill Crane. They breed up in Northern Canada and Alaska and winter in California, Texas, Florida and Mexico. They hardly ever show up on the East Coast of the US, except for Florida, so when there is a sighting of these birds there, everyone gets excited!

My brother and I checked online to see just where the Cranes had been seen and off we went in search of the Sandhill Cranes.

On the way my brother told me that he had actually gone out looking for them over the past couple of days, but had not been able to find them yet…

We went to a big hill, we had to go up the hill so that we could get a good look on the other side, where there were fields and small puddles. That is where they had been reported to be seen.

Up we went, then at the top of the hill we stopped and way off to the side and way down the hill I saw 4 Sandhill Cranes foraging amongst a large flock of Canada Geese.

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These birds are about 45 inches tall, so they should have been easy to spot, but with them being soooooo far away and blending into the background it actually was tough. I could see how they could easily be missed!

Below is a photo I took of a few years ago of Sandhill Crane in Florida. He was kneeling on the ground in a small field near a picnic area, so I was able to get a closeup!

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