Sunday, December 23, 2007

I Got The Reds for Christmas!

I had a great day of birding which happened out of luck. I had to repair a flat on a tire and was outside on the driveway when a chatter arose above my head. It was a male Red-Bellied Woodpecker and the juvenile Red-Headed Woodpecker. They were not playing nice, to say the least. I was excited about this as I've never seen a male Red-Bellied in my yard, only the female. The juvenile Red-Head is also one of my favorites as I seen it grow up over the six months.


If you look closely, you can seen the Red-Head is beginning to lose it's juvenile plumage and starting to look more like an adult. Compare its plumage to one of these early posts which shows it distinct juvenile plumage.


This male probably has been around my yard but this is the first time I've ever seen it. With the little spat going on over the tree, he didn't realize I was even around, snapping these shots. In the first pic, I got a good shot of his belly, where the red is hidden and where he gets his name from. Look close, you can see the hint of red!


Merry Christmas and God Bless!

Thursday, December 20, 2007

Merry Christmas!

The birds have been busy around my house the last few weeks. I have a whole new group of birds in my yard compared to just six months ago.

The weather in Arkansas has been usual to say the least. 25 degrees one morning and 65 a few days later! The birds don't seem to mind though.

One of my new favorites are the White Throated Sparrows. There have to up to 15 sparrows in my yard at one time. These little guys are ground feeders and are fun to watch!





Everyone go over to
Birds Etcetera and check out the newly posted "Known North American Bird Blogs #7". This blog is a great resource to find other birding blogs out there. John does a great job on helping to pull together all of the blogs out there and put them together in one place.

Merry Christmas and God Bless!

Thursday, November 22, 2007

Happy Thanksgiving!

Thanksgiving Day has been great around the house today. I hope everyone had a good day with family and friends!

Here's a pic of a new arrival to my backyard this past week. It is a Dark-Eyed Junco and a member of the Slate colored subspecies group. Arkansas is in their winter range and several have arrived.

God Bless and Happy Thanksgiving!!!

Monday, October 29, 2007

Fall Migration in Full Swing!

The fall migration has been great so far this year! I've seen a number of birds that are not here year round. The newest one is the White-Throated Sparrow.

There are two variations of this sparrow, one with a tan-stripe and the other with a white-stripe. I'm not really sure, but I may have both.




This little fellow is very distinctive with a yellow supraloral mark next to its bill. Both variations have a strongly outlined white throat.

They are very common in brushy patches in woods. They feed on the ground and kick the ground with their feet to stir it up.

Check out The Nemesis Bird for a great post on more interesting details of the White-Throated Sparrow.














Sunday, October 21, 2007

New Red-Breasted Nuthatch Pics

I got a few more pictures this afternoon of my new little friend. He (or she) is starting to get a little more brave and is starting to try the sunflower seeds from the feeders.

I really liked how he was 'posing' because I was able to get shots that really show off his plumage.



He
raised his head up and really made his red breast visible. The Red-Breasted Nuthatch's plumage is much different than that of the White-Breasted Nuthatch.










He spent several minutes running up and down the tree getting to the feeder. He is still a little skittish as he flew off to eat it!





Sunday, October 14, 2007

Under The Church Steeple

I got a few shots of a visitor to my backyard today as he was snacking on sunflower seeds. He was posing next to this great little feeder my wife Shelley got us which resembles the front of a church. He is a male House Sparrow, also known as the English Sparrow.

They were introduced to North America from Europe. They were released in New York City in 1850. Since that time, they have become widespread. In fact, they are the most abundant songbird in the world.










The male House Sparrow has a distinctive black bib with a black bill. They have a gray cap with a black mask and a chestnut nape.

The females are not as distinctive and have a much different plumage than the male. They lack the black bib, black bill, and chestnut nape.

As the winter draws closer, the males lose the plumage as their black bib, black bill and chestnut nape lightens up. As you can see, this is gradually happening to this male visitor.




Wednesday, October 10, 2007

First Blast of Fall!


I got a surprise today with a new visitor to my backyard. At first, from a distance, I thought it was one of the many Carolina Chickadees that are always at the feeders in the afternoon.



Then, it turned on the peanut feeder and faced down, in the typical Nuthatch posture. I've seen a White Breasted Nuthatch before, up on Brush Mountain, but it is a much bigger bird. This Nuthatch was much smaller than the White Breasted Nuthatch. The White Breasted Nuthatch is about 6" in length compared to only 4 1/2" for the Red Breasted Nuthatch. Also, notice that it has a dark eye line and a white eyebrow. The White Breasted Nuthatch has an all white face and breast.


The red breast is definitely noticeable and shows up. I believe this one to be a female Red Breasted Nuthatch. On the males, the rust colored underparts extend further up the neck.

Arkansas is in the winter range for the Red Breasted Nuthatch so this little blast of cooler weather appears to be causing a little movement. I'm excited!


Friday, October 5, 2007

Orange Sapsucker

This Red-Bellied Woodpecker has been frequenting my backyard lately. Besides the normal bevy of daily visits by the Cardinals, I've been carefully watching to see what other birds are visiting. The Red-Bellied Woodpecker really likes the suet block and has started coming to it often.

It's red belly, which it gets the name from, is rarely seen. It's back has a very noticeable upperparts with the black and white barring, like a zebra. So much so that is is sometimes called the Zebra Woodpecker.

The plumage of the sexes are very similar except the males have a complete red hood on their heads. The females, as noted in the pictures, only have red on the nape of their necks.

They are fairly large woodpeckers, 9-10 inches in length, with a 15-18 inch wingspan. They are nonmigratory, monogamous birds. They have 1 brood in the North and 2 - 3 broods in the South.

They got the name "orange sapsucker" from Dr. B.H Warren who called attention to their love of oranges in Florida in 1890. They would eat many oranges when they were ready to pick and destroyed many trees by boring into the tree and sucking the sap.

Saturday, September 29, 2007

Colors of The Cardinal

Cardinals have had the run of my backyard lately. I've got several adults pairs and a bunch of juveniles feeding around the clock.

Cardinals are non-migratory birds and are very abundant in the south and eastern half of North America. In the south, they are noted to have two sets of young as the weather turns warmer earlier.


They are noted for their bright red color. The adult males have a very distinctive orange bill with a black mask. Females are not red except on their wings and tail.

I've noticed as the summer has turned to fall, the males color as faded ever so slightly. Notice the change in color from this picture that I got early on in the summer.

The juveniles are starting to acquire their color, in splotches. This is a juvenile male getting his 'red-ness'. The juveniles can be distinguished from the adults as they don't have the noticeable orange bill yet, being mostly black early on in age.












Sunday, September 23, 2007

Fall has Fell, That Doesn't Sound Right!


I tried to come up with a snappy title about fall. The 'Spring has Sprung' phrase for spring starting sounds a lot better. Well anyway, fall is finally here.

The weather around here in Arkansas needs to catch up soon as we are having hotter than normal weather with the highs in the upper 80s. We should get some rain this week to cool things off.

My little Downy friend ventured into the birdbath for a little sip of water yesterday.


I got several pics of him in the bath. I included this picture because his red spot is noticeable on the back of his head.

I didn't realize until it was too late that he had his little wifey with him. He flew up to the tree after getting a drink. I watched him in the tree and then realized that she was in the tree also. She lacked the red spot that helps to distinguish between the two sexes.

Saturday, September 22, 2007

Save The Squirrels!

I just had to post a picture of a few of the squirrels in my backyard since today is the opening day of squirrel season in Arkansas. One of my buddies went hunting today and got his limit early.

Maybe someone will check out my blog and see just how cute these little guys are and think twice getting two many of these guys.

They are hungry little jokers though and can do some damage to my bird feeders if I don't keep them full!

Friday, September 21, 2007

He's Back!


I've been watching closely to make sure my little friend is still around and doing fine. I was pretty sure I caught a glimpse of him last week but I finally got a pic of him today. He is doing all of the things that the other adults are doing. He is now working on a nest up in the top of an oak tree in my front yard.

It is very interesting to see the juvenile grow up over the last few months to essentially being grown so quickly. They just grow up so fast!

Friday, September 14, 2007

Always Be Prepared!

One thing I've learned in my short time of birding is 'Always be prepared'. You just never know when you are going to see a 'life bird' when you just don't expect it.

Now obviously, four Mallards waddling around in my yard don't fall under that category but I think everyone understands my meaning.

I've had several of those instances when I did have my camera with me and caught a few pics of new birds for me.

I got these pics of the Mallards the other day during afternoon when the remnants of Hurricane Humberto was blowing through. These Mallards are residents of my neighborhood, they are pets of one of the neighbors. They usually are flying around but were walking around feeding during the rain.

They appear to be two adult females and one adult male. The last one in the first pic above looks like a juvenile male just before his head turns the distinctive green color to me.

Wednesday, September 12, 2007

Still Alive! Juvenile Red-Headed Woodpecker & Me!

I know it has been a while since my last post. The birding has been very slow around here lately. I guess the birds are moving. Food sources are more abundant now probably also.

I was looking through my pictures from several weeks back and I ran across these pictures of my favorite bird this year. He finally learned how to land in the tray feeder and get a few seeds.

I've not have the opportunity to get any pictures of the juvenile Red-Headed Woodpecker lately. I was worried that he was gone for good know that he is grown.

But, good news! He is still around and flying high up in the tree tops with the other adults!

Also, I topped 500 hits last week! Woo hoo! I appreciate everyone checking in on my little birding blog. Thanks!

Saturday, September 1, 2007

Save the Doves!


I caught this picture of two mating Mourning Doves a few weeks ago. There are always a few doves foraging about in the backyard under the feeders to pick up the loose seeds that the other birds drop.


I had forgotten about this picture until I remembered that today is opening day of Dove Season here in Arkansas. Hopefully, someone will read this blog and decide to spare a few of these beautiful birds!

Saturday, August 25, 2007

High Wire Act

I noticed the other day that my suet feeder had a unusual hole up at the top of the block. Most the birds that frequent the suet block are Carolina Wrens and occasionally, my little Downy Woodpecker friend.

These are very small birds and don't get much when they peck at it. So this large hole was definitely a mystery to me.




Well, I finally found the culprit. I have several Blue Jays in my back yard. They have seem to have developed a knack for hanging upside down to peck at the suet to knock it loose and get a little bit to eat.













They look particularly strange as they hang precariously upside down from the limb above the suet feeder.



Thursday, August 23, 2007

New Addition to the Backyard!

I got a call from Shelley the other day about a new bird she noticed on one of the tube feeders in our backyard. She described it as bright yellow with a black cap and black wings. I felt for sure that it was a Goldfinch. I've been watching the feeder ever since trying to catch him.

He hasn't returned yet but he have must brought a friend.

I've saw the female Goldfinch today at the feeder. The female is not as bright and colorful as the male. The Goldfinch is easily identifiable as it is one of only a few yellow birds in Arkansas that is this small.

With the female around, the male can't be far behind. Check back soon, I'll have a picture of him.

Saturday, August 18, 2007

Dog Days of Summer

These days here in Arkansas have been some of the hottest on record! We reached 104 degrees several days last week. The bird activity has pretty much come to a stand still in my backyard.

I caught this squirrel getting a drink out of the fountain yesterday. The fountain is having trouble keeping up with the hot weather too. I refill it sometimes twice a day!

It's only supposed to reach 99 degress today. What a cold front!
There are still a few regulars that don't seem to be too effected by the weather. My little Downy friend is still very active. I caught this picture of him this morning on his breakfast run!

On a personal note, I read a great blog post this morning over at Journey Through Grace about a gentleman with Lou Gehrig's Disease. Take time to read the post and be sure to give thanks to the Lord for all he has blessed you with.

Friday, August 10, 2007

Sweet Sip of Nectar

I have a male Downy Woodpecker that loves the peanuts in the feeder I have in my back yard. He frequents the feeder several times during the day. The Downy is the smallest woodpecker in North America measuring only 6 3/4". Male Downy Woodpeckers have a red patch on the back of the head.

The Downy is very similar to the Hairy Woodpecker in appearance. The Hairy is larger and lacks the dark bars on the outer tail feathers.
I love watching the little woodpecker on the peanut and suet feeder. He has started exhibiting a strange behavior today that I haven't noticed before. He has been sipping nectar from the Hummingbird feeder! I've heard that woodpeckers like fruit so this may be the reason why he likes the sweet, sugar water.

It may be because of the extreme 100 degree heat we've had lately. I've never seen a woodpecker at my bird bath before so I'm not sure where they get water from.
I know where he got some today!



Tuesday, August 7, 2007

Dance of the Flickers!

We went out to dinner tonight and got back to the house about 7pm. As usual, I checked our backyard for bird activity. Late in the day toward evening, the birds come out to eat dinner. Tonight, I noticed two birds out in the back of the yard on the ground.

They were two Northern Flickers, bobbing and weaving around. I thought that it was a male and a female at first, but upon closer inspection, they were both males. Notice the black moustaches!

After thinking about what was going on, it must have been a show of dominance between these two males. I watched these two and it went on for at least 2o minutes. The moved their display up on a fence and continued doing their dance.


I've included a short video of some of the 'dancing' that was going on between the two Northern Flickers.


video

Sunday, August 5, 2007

White-Breasted Nuthatch

This weekend was another one visiting Brush Mountain in central Arkansas. I did a little bird watching and saw several titmice flitting about in the trees. They were flying up to the bird feeder at the house and then back out to the trees to eat the seeds they had found.

While watching the titmice, I was saw a White-breasted Nuthatch climbing up and down a tree. These birds are 5.75" tall with a wingspan of 11". Nuthatches are tree climbers with a woodpecker-like bill. They have a square cut tail but it is not used to brace them as they typically go down trees headfirst.



There are 31 species worldwide with only 4 species residing in North America.

The White-breasted Nuthatch is identified by their black cap with beady black eyes on a white face.

They are present over most of the U.S. from southern Canada to the Gulf Coast and from the Atlantic to the West. They are absent in the treeless plains and prairie of Texas, Kansas, and Oklahoma.


Monday, July 30, 2007

Carolina Wren Feeding Time

My backyard has been a flurry of activity over the last week. All of the juveniles and fledglings have been stretching their wings and really getting out a lot. I've been watching a Carolina Wren with a pair of juveniles. Wrens are fun for me to watch because they are so fast and flitty. You have to keep a close eye if you are watch them for long.

Carolina Wrens are a very small bird. They are only about 5.5" long with a wingspan of 7.5". They only weigh 0.75 ounces. They are easily identified by the bold white "eyebrow". This little one already has it's little eyebrow started!


This adult was taking pieces from the peanut butter suet block and feeding the juvenile. During the time the adult was feeding, another juvenile came up to get in on the action.

I thought this picture was unique. The adult was definitely making sure the juvenile was getting the pieces of the suet. It was stuffing the piece way down the throat of the juvenile!



Saturday, July 28, 2007

Kite Flying!

I went back out to Lake Monticello again this week to see if the Ospreys were out again. No luck but I did but I did observe another bird I had not previously seen. It was at a distance so it took several shots and spying with the binos to identify the bird.


Mississippi Kites are similar in shape to falcons. Their length is 14" with a wingspan of 31". They have a pale gray head with a darker gray body.
They feed on cicadas, dragonflies, and other insects that are captured in the air or plucked from leaves while flying.







Sunday, July 22, 2007

The Fish Hawk At Lake Monticello

Kevin and Summer came to Monticello this weekend to help Shelley and I out at the store. We ate dinner at Layne's and then took a trip to Lake Monticello to see if we would have any luck bird watching.

I have seen the large nest on the south side of the lake for some time now. I had always thought it was an eagle's nest but had never seen any eagles. Kevin and I went out on the dock to look a little closer at the nest.

We saw a large bird in the nest and thing began to see several more start flying around the nest. The nest was about 150 yards from the dock we were watching from. We counted 5 birds in all, two adults and three juveniles. One of the juveniles flew up and landed on a limb with a fish and started eating. We identified the birds as Ospreys.

These birds are hawks that are common around freshwater and known as the "Fish Hawk". They hover over water and dive feet first into the water to catch their prey. This method of catching their prey with their feet is unique among raptors. Ospreys are large raptors reaching 22-25" long with a wingspan between 58-72".

The Osprey is very unique with a white head and a dark eye streak. Their underparts are white, which helps to conceal them as they fly over their prey.

The Osprey also has a unique way of flying with their preys in their talons. They will align the fish the head first, pointing in the direction of their flight. We were able to witness an Osprey exhibiting this behavior as he was approaching the tree to eat.

The Osprey population was threatened in the 50s and 60s as the misuse of pesticides, such as DDT, increased. Pesticides caused thinning of a birds eggshell, therefore, effected the reproductive cycle. As DDT was banned in the early 70s and conservation measures were instituted, the Osprey population has made a comeback.

This was the first time I've been at the lake so late in the day. I was able to snap several pictures of the sun as it set. The colors were very nice.



 

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