Orange you funny, little bird?

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Bug and berry eater stops at wrong restaurant.

I guess the thistle feeder is just a convenient perch for this male Baltimore Oriole. Or doesn’t he know …

Baltimore Orioles eat insects, fruit, and nectar. The proportion of each food varies by season: in summer, while breeding and feeding their young, much of the diet consists of insects, which are rich in the proteins needed for growth. In spring and fall, nectar and ripe fruits compose more of the diet; these sugary foods are readily converted into fat, which supplies energy for migration.

Baby bluebirds

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A quick cellphone pic of five baby bluebirds in the Gilbertson nest box. Look at their little pin feathers popping out! And already they are showing their true blue colors, with a bit of (dinosaur) green.

The bluebird parents take turns bringing bugs to the nestlings all day long. We see them from our kitchen window and back deck. When I was mowing the lawn and got near the nest box the male bluebird dive-bombed me, even touching my head lightly a few times.

Guess these bluebirds aren’t slackers after all. They even laid another egg after I took the photo in early May.

Questions about bluebirds? This site is amazing: Sialis.org

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Full of innocent vivacity, warbling its ever pleasing notes, and familiar as any bird can be in its natural freedom, it is one of the most agreeable of our feathered favorites. The pure azure of its mantel, and the glow of its breast, render it conspicuous, as it flits through the orchards and gardens, crosses the fields or meadows, or hops along by the roadside. – John James Audubon

Remember when the bluebirds were courting on snowy Valentines Day?.. Love birds

Noisy neighbors

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Male Red-winged Blackbird in the field beyond the pond this morning, probably nabbing some tasty bugs among the dewdrops.

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Nearby, a female Red-Winged Blackbird gathers nesting material.

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The male RWBs have been noisy around here for a week or two, even perching up near the house and visiting the tube feeder by the back deck. Guys, you’re supposed to be out in the marsh!

The male has a “conk-la-ree” song and also a piercing “check” call that reminds me a bit of a hawk. For a couple of days I kept looking for a hawk in the front yard oak tree.

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When the pairing is complete and the nesting begins, will they be a little quieter?

Grab bag of May birds

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Brown-headed Cowbird at the top of the dawn redwood in our front yard.

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Gray Catbird at the edge of the red maple swamp out back.

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Common Yellowthroat takes off.

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Tree Swallow perches on the martin house “antenna.”

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Eastern Phoebe holds still for a moment.

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Red-winged Blackbird sings atop a maple at the edge of the swamp.

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Eastern Towhee, female, scuffling in leaves at the edge of the field.

My first towhee

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What’s under the back deck stairs? A new bird!

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It’s a female Eastern Towhee. Pretty!

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Hard to get a good shot.

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A strikingly marked, oversized sparrow of the East, feathered in bold black and warm reddish-browns – if you can get a clear look at it. Eastern Towhees are birds of the undergrowth, where their rummaging makes far more noise than you would expect for their size. Their chewink calls let you know how common they are, but many of your sightings end up mere glimpses through tangles of little stems.

So true!

Oriole-palooza!

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Baltimore Orioles are singing like crazy all over the place. I saw at least three this morning – two out by the pond and field and one up by the house.

The rich, whistling song of the Baltimore Oriole, echoing from treetops near homes and parks, is a sweet herald of spring in eastern North America. Look way up to find these singers: the male’s brilliant orange plumage blazes from high branches like a torch.

Who knew?…

Baltimore Orioles got their name from their bold orange-and-black plumage: they sport the same colors as the heraldic crest of England’s Baltimore family (who also gave their name to Maryland’s largest city).

Orioles are members of the Icterid family.

Coffee and a chickadee

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I Instagrammed this cell phone pic of a wet chickadee this morning. It was perched on my hand while I sipped coffee and waited for it to dry.

At 6:40 a.m. my neighbor called and said he had a job for me. A chickadee got stuck in the jelly in his oriole feeder. He rinsed it off in the birdbath but had to go to work and wanted me to keep an eye on it.

When it hopped on my shoulder and flew to the window sill I knew it was okay. I released the little bird back into “the wild”.

Phoebe, phoebe

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Eastern Phoebe, spotted while drinking a beer on the front lawn with my husband yesterday afternoon.

I have been trying to get a photo of this bird (actually, I think there are two of them) for a few days. I was pretty sure it was some kind of flycatcher, but not sure which one.

Got the shot. Looked up local flycatchers online. It’s a phoebe.

One of our most familiar eastern flycatchers, the Eastern Phoebe’s raspy “phoebe” call is a frequent sound around yards and farms in spring and summer. These brown-and-white songbirds sit upright and wag their tails from prominent, low perches.

I will get more, better photos too, I hope! This is my Backyard Bird #50.

Warblers abound

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Black-and-white Warbler, in the maple tree right off our back deck.

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Good morning, Common Yellowthroat.

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The male Common Yellowthroat has a black mask, the little bandido bug eater.

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Witchety, witchety, he says.

I saw three males near each other in the underbrush out by our pond this morning. I can hear even more out in the wet woods. A female spotted yesterday in the same area. I suspect some will migrate through and two or three pairs will stay around to nest.

Got some cute photos of an almost- fledgling last summer.

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Rain last night in the perfect amount. Sunny day ahead. Wild blueberries are blossoming.

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Walking the dog out past the pond around 7:15 a.m. I spotted a yellow bird flitting from branch to branch up high in a cherry tree. Distinctive song.

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It’s a Yellow Warbler.

I saw one for the first time last May on a birding trip offshore to Star Island, among the Isles of Shoals. (Here’s a Flickr photo album from that trip.)

This Yellow Warbler counts now as a Backyard Bird on my sidebar… number 48.

Males sing a sweet series of 6–10 whistled notes that accelerate over the course of the roughly 1-second song and often end on a rising note. The tone is so sweet that people often remember it with the mnemonic sweet sweet sweet I’m so sweet. The songs are a common sound of spring and early summer mornings and may be repeated as often as 10 times per minute.

8:50 a.m. BONUS

Just got some photos of an American Redstart in the woods next to our house! I saw two but heard more.

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A lively warbler that hops among tree branches in search of insects, the male American Redstart is coal-black with vivid orange patches on the sides, wings, and tail. True to its Halloween-themed color scheme, the redstart seems to startle its prey out of the foliage by flashing its strikingly patterned tail and wing feathers.