Oh, hey

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Hello, bluebird!

First Eastern Bluebird I have seen at the backyard feeders and birdbath in a long time. I counted three. This is a female, but I didn’t get a good look at the other two. They also checked out the old bluebird house, possibly for winter nighttime roosting potential.

I have seen flocks of bluebirds way out back by the red maple swamp. Also last Friday visiting family in Swarthmore, PA we watched flock after flock of migrating bluebirds pass overhead, an extraordinary sight.

Feederwatch 2

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Goldie.

I’m not gonna lie, it was a pretty boring couple of Feederwatch days. Cold, cloudy, damp. Here are the birds, in order of appearance…

Black-capped chickadee: 6
White-breasted nuthatch: 2
Tufted titmouse: 3
Downy woodpecker: 2 males, 1 female
Mourning doves: 11
American goldfinch: 7
Dark-eyed junco: 1
Blue jay: 2
Northern Cardinal: 1 male, 1 female
Red-bellied woodpecker: 1 female

Project Feederwatch #1

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Tufted titmouse on a Tuesday.

The first-of-the-season count for Project Feederwatch in my backyard was yesterday and the day before. Here are the grand totals of the most birds of a species spotted at the same time, over about four hours total of watching.

Hairy woodpecker: 2 (1 male, 1 female)
Blue jay: 2
Black-capped chickadee: 5
Tufted titmouse: 3
American goldfinch: 6
Dark-eyed juncos: 3
Downy woodpeckers: 4 (2 males, 2 females)
White-breasted nuthatch: 2
Red-bellied woodpecker: 1 female
Mourning doves: 2
Northern cardinal: 4 (2 m, 2 f)
White-throated sparrows: 2
Sharp-shinned hawk: 1

Sundays and Mondays are the days I have chosen for my count.

more on Project Feederwatch

Project FeederWatch is a winter-long survey of birds that visit feeders at backyards, nature centers, community areas, and other locales in North America. FeederWatchers periodically count the birds they see at their feeders from November through early April and send their counts to Project FeederWatch. FeederWatch data help scientists track broadscale movements of winter bird populations and long-term trends in bird distribution and abundance.

Sharpie sighting

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Looks like I get to add a HAWK to my count on this, my first counting day for the winter 2015-16 season of Project Feederwatch.

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Sharp-shinned hawk perched on the blackberry arbor, swiveling its head around to watch the feeders for tasty little songbirds.

Cornell Lab of Ornithology: “Sharp-shinned Hawks breed in deep forests. During migration, look for them in open habitats or high in the sky, migrating along ridgelines. During the nonbreeding season they hunt small birds and mammals along forest edges and sometimes at backyard bird feeders, causing a wave of high-pitched alarm calls among the gathered songbirds.”

Yes, the chickadees, our most alert and noisy sentinels, were sounding the alarm.

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Pretty bird, and distinctly different from the Cooper’s hawk I spotted last week watching my feeders.

Flocking sparrows

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White-throated sparrow

White-throated Sparrows in a large mixed flock of sparrows scuffling around in the backyard leaves yesterday. There were Dark-eyed Juncos and Fox Sparrows too.

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Fox sparrow

Fox Sparrow, not a first in the backyard but on first on this blog, somehow. I am pretty sure I saw them last winter, or maybe spring or fall.

Typically seen sending up a spray of leaf litter as they kick around in search of food, Fox Sparrows are dark, splotchy sparrows of dense thickets. Named for the rich red hues that many Fox Sparrows wear, this species is nevertheless one of our most variable birds, with four main groups that can range from foxy red to gray to dark brown. Since they breed primarily in remote areas, many people see them in winter when the birds move into backyard thickets.

Hawk in the yard

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Pretty sure this Accipter is a Cooper’s Hawk, though they are notoriously difficult to tell apart from a Sharp-shinned Hawks.

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It was perched in backyard trees keeping a hawk-eye on the bird feeders. I had to look hard for it but I thought there was a hawk because I heard some chickadees making hysterical alarm calls, looked and saw no birds at the feeders except one downy woodpecker motionless and clinging to the side of the platform feeder.

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Dashing through vegetation to catch birds is a dangerous lifestyle. In a study of more than 300 Cooper’s hawk skeletons, 23 percent showed old, healed-over fractures in the bones of the chest, especially of the furcula, or wishbone.

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Pretty bird. Loved to look at Hawks, while at the same time feeling like guarding my smaller feathered feeder visitors from them. Go eat a squirrel!