Tag Archives: backyard birds

A chime of wrens

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Backyard bird #54, the House Wren!

Three of them were chattering in the maple tree by the big garden this morning.

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Noisy little birds. Peppy and adorable. Funny I’ve never noticed them in our backyard before.

A plain brown bird with an effervescent voice, the House Wren is a common backyard bird over nearly the entire Western Hemisphere. Listen for its rush-and-jumble song in summer and you’ll find this species zipping through shrubs and low tree branches, snatching at insects.

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Guess they nest elsewhere and are just passing through. Maybe they are migrating south already?

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There were other signs this morning that it is bird autumn: Great Blue Heron lifted off from pond edge as I walked out back with the dog; flock of eight or ten Tree Swallows were dipping down to drink from the pond on the wing.

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House Wrens on the garden fence.

In summer, House Wrens are at home in open forests, forest edges, and areas with scattered grass and trees. Backyards, farmyards, and city parks are perfect for them. In winter they become more secretive, preferring brushy tangles, thickets, and hedgerows.

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Oh stay, little bird. Do not fly away with our summer too soon!

RBG in July

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Perched atop a swamp maple at the edge of our pond, the male Red-winged blackbird keeps an eye out.

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Piercing call sounds territorial.

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A handsome defender. But when the seasons change he will move on.

I haven’t posted much lately because I’ve been busy yard-saling, craigslisting, cleaning and painting to get ready to put our house on the market in less than two weeks. Stay tuned.

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.

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.