Home Sweet Home 11/3 and 11/4/12

To be honest, my favorite birding spot is probably the yard.  This is surprisingly one of the most species diverse place I bird.  All birding inhibitions are gone while birding your own yard.  This weekend was a fairly good weekend for backyard birding.  Several winter species were observed while a surprise, secretive year round bird showed up.  Most of the backyard winter birds like to visit the feeders whether they’re attracted by the millet, sunflower, safflower, suet, water, birds (hawks), or the few that swing by because they are curious as to the congregation of birds.  Our yard is surrounded mostly by deciduous woods with quite a bit of undergrowth mainly at the woodland edge.  This habitat is great for our sparrows and a few others.  The good thing about winter is that birds seem more active than in summer and anytime is a good time to go out and watch.

This weekend the birds were in full voice.  Since it is still early in the season, a lot of the winter birds (as well as year round birds) are still singing.  Some will cease their singing but others (White-throated Sparrow) will sing throughout the winter (although its singing will become less common).  This actually creates a challeng because there are a couple songs that I only hear for a couple of weeks a year and I not too familiar with:  Fox Sparrow, Lincoln’s Sparrow, Ruby-crowned Kinglet, and others.  The Ruby-crowned Kinglet was a problem I faced this weekend.  I know the rattling call of the Ruby-crowned Kinglet like the back of my hand but I have the most trouble with its song.  Saturday I knew I had a Ruby-crowned Kinglet in some shrubs in front of the house but I kept hearing a unfamiliar song from around where the Kinglet was.  I was almost convinced that there was a Brown Thrasher giving one its wayward songs right beside the Kinglet.  Eventually, the Kinglet came out into the open and I watched it give its song.  Very peculiar.

by DM

The feeders were filled with activity and its apparent that the Dark-eyed Juncos brought their appetite with them.  The Mourning Doves also fed voraciously and in unusually large numbers.  I counted at least 13 doves on Sunday (this is a large count for the area, in other areas it isn’t uncommon to see hundreds of doves).  Also the suet, which hasn’t seen a lot of action lately, was quite a hotspot: Chickadees, Downy and Red-bellied Woodpecker, and White-breasted Nuthatches were all captivated by it.

As mentioned earlier, the sparrows were fairly active this weekend, but mainly in numbers and not diversity (only 4 different species were seen).  Tthe Juncos and White-throated Sparrows were the main source of sparrow activity but a Chipping Sparrow came to the feeders and a long lost Eastern Towhee was seen around a brush pile.  The Towhees are always around the yard but they aren’t often observed.  This is the first Towhee I’ve seen at the house in a couple of months.

Here’s a list of the birds of the weekend:

  • Turkey Vulture
  • Red-shouldered Hawk
  • Mourning Dove
  • Red-bellied Woodpecker
  • Downy Woodpecker
  • Northern Flicker
  • Eastern Phoebe
  • Blue Jay
  • American Crow
  • Carolina Chickadee
  • Tufted Titmouse
  • White-breasted Nuthatch
  • Carolina Wren
  • Ruby-crowned Kinglet
  • Golden-crowned Kinglet
  • Eastern Bluebird
  • American Robin
  • Hermit Thrush
  • Northern Mockingbird
  • Cedar Waxwing
  • Yellow-rumped Warbler
  • Eastern Towhee
  • Chipping Sparrow
  • White-throated Sparrow
  • Dark-eyed Junco
  • Northern Cardinal
  • American Goldfinch
  • House Finch
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