Yard Bird Drama

I’ve waited so long to post about my yard birds, I’m afraid most of those sightings have expired. Remember that time it snowed? Yeah, well, we had Downy Woodpecker, Northern Flicker, Dark-eyed Junco, Goldfinch, Pine Siskin, Townsend’s Warbler, Anna’s Hummingbird…and a first for the yard, a Varied Thrush!

Varied Thrush

Varied Thrush doesn’t care, he’s long gone by now.

Since winter, I’ve upgraded the suet and bird feeder to Squirrel Buster designs saving me a ton of money on seed.

Squirrelbuster

And disappointing the hairy seed snatchers.

Squirrel

While making the birds and I very happy.

Goldfinch and Siskin

Lesser Goldfinch and Pine Siskin

Bushtits

Red-breasted Nuthatch and Bushtits

Nuthatch

See the chew marks on the cage? And the smiling Red-breasted Nuthatch? Squirrel Busters FTW.

And tonight! – I was rewarded for taking the compost outside, because I opened the front door to this!

Sharp-shinned

Woah! The birds were calling, “alarm! alarm!” I quickly set down the compost bin and grabbed my camera that was thankfully nearby, locked and loaded.

Sharp-shinned Hawk

Sharp-shinned Hawk

I got a sense from the size and thinner legs that it’s an immature Sharp-shinned Hawk. Here’s a better picture to get a sense of the size of the bird.

Sharp-shinned Hawk

I’d say smaller than a crow, slightly larger than a robin. But as we all know, size lies, so I’m open to interpretation. Anyways, the bird hopped down on the fence and continued the hunt.

Sharp-shinned Hawk

Sharp-shinned Hawk

I sat on the floor at my front door admiring its ferocity (with just a hint of guilt knowing that it’s probably there because of the bird feeders). Fortunately, a group of brave chickadees chased it away before anyone got hurt. In my yard at least. Whew, exciting! Glad I forced myself out of the hammock to do a little cleaning. Totally worth it.

In less dramatic news, here are cute Bushtits!

Bushtit

Bushtit

Yard birds are the best.

Tweets and chirps,

Audrey

Larch Mountain Part II

Larch Mountain was so much fun the first time, I made a return visit the following day.

Round two proved worthwhile just from the drive up. Elk! It’s been years since I’ve seen elk in the wild, and I’m not sure I’ve ever seen them this far from the coast. There were others with this one, but they ran off pretty quickly when I squealed the car to a stop on the road. Pretty neat sighting.

Elk

Not long after – CHICKEN!

Sooty Grouse

Just kidding, it’s a Sooty Grouse.

I’ll admit it, ever since the Ring-necked pheasant at Sauvie Island, when I see these kinds of birds by the road, my first reaction is to call them chickens (blame early mornings). There have been a handful of “chicken events,” but I rarely manage to get photographic evidence enough to make an ID, so I was pretty happy even with this sub-par snapshot.

Moving right along.

The usual flycatchers were on set, as were Cedar Waxwings, Hairy Woodpecker, a rough-looking Red-breasted Nuthatch (juvenile?), and a shining MacGillivray’s Warbler.

Cedar Waxwing

Hairy Woodpecker

Red-breasted Nuthatch

MacGillivray's Warbler

Oops…not that one…

MacGillivray's Warbler

Yeah! Better.

Mr Hermit was still hanging around the parking lot, but less vocal and showy this day.

Hermit Warbler

The rockstar show-off bird of this trip was a Dark-eyed Junco.

Giant Junco, destroyer of worlds

Giant Junco, destroyer of worlds

Mustache mania.

Dark-eyed Junco

Dark-eyed Junco

Dark-eyed Junco

And finally, LOLZ.

Dark-eyed Junco

What a goofball.

Pretty much sums up this trip!

Tweets and chirps,

Audrey

Montana Trip

While visiting my family and celebrating my mom’s 61st birthday, I got a peek at some hardy winter Montana birds. My Aunt keeps a feeder out as she also enjoys identifying visiting species.

This wasn’t specifically a birding trip, but part of the fun with this hobby I’ve found is wherever you go…birds are there. And traveling means ALL NEW BIRDS. Well, for the most part. You’re never too far from an American Crow, European Starling, or House Sparrow but it was neat to see relative birds from families that I see farther west. Similar, yet slightly different.

Black-billed Magpie

Black-billed Magpie

For instance, one common Portland Corvidae is the Western-Scrub Jay, but in Helena, the Black-billed Magpie takes center stage as the outgoing and raucous jay-relative. In my city I mostly see Black-capped and Chestnut-backed Chickadees, but the Mountain Chickadee is more prevalent east of my locale.

My family pitched in to help ID this bird: 

This LBB (Little Brown Bird) looked sparrow-ish to me. We figured out which birds winter in Montana narrowing down the options, then the field mark in the last picture sealed the deal. The bird finally showed it’s dark central spot above it’s light-colored belly revealing it is the American Tree Sparrow.

Other cool (mostly) NEW BIRDS:

Even winter in Montana can produce a wide variety of bird sightings. I wonder what would happen if I traveled to the tropics? Some day I’ll fly south to check it out!

Tweets and chirps,

Audrey