What did you say your name was?

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“Phoebe, phoebe…” alright already!

Noisy little flycatchers zooming all over the place.

The Eastern Phoebe generally perches low in trees or on fencelines. Phoebes are very active, making short flights to capture insects and very often returning to the same perch. They make sharp “peep” calls in addition to their familiar “phoebe” vocalizations. When perched, Eastern Phoebes wag their tails down and up frequently.

Streamlined

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Tree Swallow intensity.

Swallows have adapted to hunting insects on the wing by developing a slender, streamlined body and long pointed wings, which allow great maneuverability and endurance, as well as frequent periods of gliding. Their body shape allows for very efficient flight, which costs 50–75% less for swallows than equivalent passerines of the same size.

Yellow Bird

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You know you want a Yellow Bird too.

It’s a drink! A Caribbean cocktail for sipping on the back deck or patio while watching pretty birds.

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The Common Yellowthroat is a pretty bird to watch. Or listen to… witchety, witchety. But only in summer.

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You can watch Goldfinches all year round, around here.

My recipe for a batch of Yellow Birds to share. Mix in a pitcher and serve over ice.

  • 1.5 cups light rum
  • 3/4 cup creme de banane
  • 1/2 cup galliano
  • 2 cups orange juice
  • 1.5 cups pineapple juice
  • juice of 1 lime

Bonus bird: a (banded) Yellow Warbler spotted on the Isles of Shoals last May.

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Adios, nest box

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Fledgeling!

The bluebirds have left the nest. This is a cellphone pic edited on Instagram.

I have been busy with home improvement projects on my own usually-empty nest, currently full of my two visiting 20-something daughters and airline pilot husband home from a trip.

Pop up ducks

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Discovered: the most buoyant substance on earth… eider ducklings!

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These tiny little fluff balls tackle the waves and waters of the alongshore North Atlantic with aplomb!

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The mothers (and aunties?) do all the duckling care, leading them and taking turns watching them in groups known as creches.

Mother Common Eiders lead their young to water, and often are accompanied by nonbreeding hens that participate in chick protection. Broods often come together to form “crèches” of a few to over 150 ducklings.

Game of Thrones, backyard edition

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A couple of Eastern Kingbirds arrived in the bird kingdom of Pond Field yesterday.

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They don’t hold still for long. Distinctive flight and buzzy song.

Behavior: Eastern Kingbirds often perch in the open atop trees or along utility lines or fences. They fly with very shallow, rowing wingbeats and a raised head, usually accompanied by metallic, sputtering calls. Eastern Kingbirds are visual hunters, sallying out from perches to snatch flying insects.

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Habitat: Eastern Kingbirds breed in open habitats such as yards, fields, pastures, grasslands, or wetlands, and are especially abundant in open places along forest edges or water. They spend winters in forests of South America.

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The Tree Swallows were not happy about the kingbirds and tried chasing them off, unsuccessfully. Not sure why. Maybe because they are already nesting in this deliciously buggy territory and don’t want to share?

Or is because kingbirds are such badasses?

The scientific name Tyrannus means “tyrant, despot, or king,” referring to the aggression kingbirds exhibit with each other and with other species. When defending their nests they will attack much larger predators like hawks, crows, and squirrels. They have been known to knock unsuspecting Blue Jays out of trees.

And speaking of defending nests, while I was attempting to photograph the flitting kingbirds a hawk soared overhead and the resident male Red-winged Blackbird took off for some aerial warfare to drive it off…

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Asymmetric warfare, but the little guy won in the end and the hawk soared off north and east.

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The male Tree Swallow watched the whole thing. Like many of the male birds now he perches at his post, on guard.

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Across the field, a kingbird was contemplating his summer kingdom.

It’s not called a kingbird for nothing. The Eastern Kingbird has a crown of yellow, orange, or red feathers on its head, but the crown is usually concealed. When it encounters a potential predator the kingbird may simultaneously raise its bright crown patch, stretch its beak wide open to reveal a red gape, and dive-bomb the intruder.

Here is one with his crest raised: Image.

The Eastern Kingbird is backyard bird number 53 for me.