Posts Tagged ‘birds’

Downy Woodpecker

With the warmer weather this weekend, we’ve been treated to the insistent tapping of a downy woodpecker on a dead branch of the silver maple in our backyard.    One would assume that only a plentiful food supply would lead a little bird like this to spend so many hours (Bo estimated 5 or more yesterday) beating its beak against the bark, but the Cornell Ornithology Lab says that food gathering is a relatively quiet endeavor, and that the tapping is actually the downy woodpecker’s version of singing!


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As I write this, it is blissfully quiet and peaceful.  The sun has just set, and the oriole chicks must have nodded off to sleep.

A few months ago, I posted about the oriole nest hanging from the maple tree in our back yard.  Well, a few weeks later, the orioles returned; difficult to miss in their brightest orange and yellow finery, they also kept us apprised of their presence with their calls and songs.  My goodness, they’re chatty!

The fruit doesn’t fall far from the tree– or the new nest from last year’s, in this case.  This year’s installment, looking suspiciously like dryer lint (like last year’s did), is located just a foot or two away from the previous one.

And like their parents, the fruit–er, chicks– are NOISY.  At first, it was just the adorable intermittent twittering that accompanied parental food visits.  But as of today, they’ve become harsh and guttural (like their cousins, the blackbirds), and non-stop in their vocalizations.  Never mind predators or camouflage– they’re brashly inviting everyone to “Look at us!!”  Bo said some of them were actually out and hopping around the branches today.

So, I suspect sooner than later, they’ll abruptly be gone.  In the meantime… Shhhh, the babies are sleeping!

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We’re having a premature spring here in Colorado, but even as we all worry about drought and fire danger, I don’t really hear anyone complaining about the shorts and sandals weather.  Of, course the joy of spring weather was amplified by the appearance of the bulb flowers.  It’s one thing when you plant the bulbs in the fall and wait all winter to see them bloom.  It’s another when you move into a place with no idea of what will arise with the advent of spring, which is what we’re doing now.

My photos don’t do them justice, but there are little grape hyacinths all over the front yard.  The daffodils are majestic and beautiful, but so fleeting.  The tulips are sticking around for multiple days, amazingly enough.  I never dared grow tulips after the first year I tried them in Oregon and had the deer come and munch them down to nothing just as they were about to bloom.  So far (I’m saying this very quietly so they don’t hear!), our resident cervids seem to be unaware or restraining themselves…In other news, we seem to have stabilized our little community of birds and squirrels in the back yard.  We now have a BB gun, which has not been used to kill anything, but only to train certain critters to fly away when they catch a glimpse.  The squirrels still make their appearance, but are respectful of the birds’ territory, and the starlings are more cautious than they were before.  The pair of doves make us a regular stop on their neighborhood rounds, as do the flickers.  And this evening, a couple of spotted towhees dropped in– my first ever sighting!

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Spring Activity

Grandma at the Minnesota Landscape Arboretum

I was surprised to see how long it’s been since I last put up a post.  A whole month!?!  What have I been up to?

Bo and I are still puttering around, working on the house.  Now that the weather has turned into Spring (for now, at least– I’m certain our 70-degree days will eventually give way to another snow storm or two), there are yard and gardening projects to be done in addition to inside chores.

Our friend Emily visited for a few days, which gave me an excuse to spend an afternoon exploring the vast network of trails on top of North Table Mountain, the mesa that sits in back of our house.  And then I spent a long weekend in Minneapolis visiting my grandma, aunt, and cousin.  The weather there was doing the unusually early Spring show as well, so my grandma and I had the opportunity to visit the arboretum and a nature center to watch birds and squirrels do their thing.

Speaking of birds and squirrels, there’s quite a little community living near and using our backyard now.  Foolishly, we thought that putting seed in the feeder would bring in more birds, but instead it allowed us to watch the gluttonous, bullying squirrels gorge themselves.  Still, the messy brutes left plenty on the ground, so we’ve been enjoying the sparrows, chickadees, mourning doves, and occasional jays that come around.  Just this morning I saw a starling sitting on the feeder as it swung wildly from side to side– the recently ousted squirrel sitting below scrounging on the ground.

I had to cheer the starling’s chutzpah for kicking the squirrel out of the feeder, but I’m not so fond of its other bullying behavior: nest takeover.  Until a few weeks ago, we had flickers living  between the walls of the house just off the living room, but now they’ve given way to the bossy, noisy starlings.  The flickers seem to be hanging around, though, and just this morning I saw one crawl out of a knothole in the silver maple right outside our bedroom window.  I’m hoping this proves to be a desirable spot for them.  Imagine being able to watch flicker babies from bed in the mornings!

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Robin Update


They’re leaving the nest!  They look like they’re too big to be in it, anyway.  So much for “snack-sized”.  They are rather puffy, though.

a nicer picture of the babies

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The Nest

About a month ago, we noticed a new addition to the awning above our front stoop.bird's nestAt first we weren’t sure who had made it, since we never saw the responsible parties.  But soon, a step onto a ladder gave us this clue:robin's eggs in nestAmerican Robins!  The gestation period for robin eggs is about 11 days, so we waited.  Bo left for his week in New Mexico, and I took my jaunt down to the Sand Dunes.  When I got home, I eagerly looked out the front door and saw the adult birds standing at the edge of the nest with their heads poking down.  The babies must have hatched!Let me note that taking a picture like this is a very, very Bad Idea.  Since I forgot to suppress the flash, I hit the babies with a burst of bright light, which could blind them.  It also earned me a “stooping” from one of the parent birds, meaning that it swooped right next to my head in attempt to make me leave, which I did.

see the babies poking their heads over the nest edge?

Robins are born utterly helpless and have to be fed for awhile after they are born.  So, I didn’t see the baby birds (other than by taking that picture) for about another week, when suddenly they could stick their heads way above the edge of the nest when the adults arrived with food.  I find baby birds to be  so incredibly ugly that they are almost cute.  At least these robin babies are not as raucous as the phoebe family that nested outside my house when I lived in Dayville.

It’s not over yet.  Next comes fledging, which my co-worker tells me is a stressful time for the conscientious bird observer.  The young ones leave the nest but can’t really fly yet, so they just hop around the ground, a tempting snack-sized puffball for any neighborhood cat or raccoon, or (gulp) dog.

I’ll keep you posted.

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