Appreciating our daily dog walks

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A walk along the edge of the red maple swamp in our backyard, and a dove is watching us.

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Intrepid explorers are we. Snow and ice but the swamp is not all the way frozen yet. Soon.

Radar is 5 months old now. From our mudroom door out through the woods, to the field by the pond, then along a path as far as we can go into the red maple swamp and back is a half mile, a nice morning walk for the pup and us.

He knows the word “birds” and looks up to see them fly.

Autumn color

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Northern cardinal is molting.

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All About Birds: The Basics: Feather Molt

female cardinal

For the past month or so, we have had more cardinals visiting the feeders than I remember being normal.

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Female cardinal and mourning dove.

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The weather has been very dry, but yesterday we had monsoon-like rainstorms. The autumn color has been lagging but maybe it will catch up now… and soon the leaves will “molt” too.

Dove time

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Evening is dove time.

They come and sit in the feeder, maybe nibbling a few seeds.

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They perch on the rim of the heated bird bath, sip a few sips, and sometimes sit right in the water like they are in a dove hot tub.

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They can be very still for a long time. Sometimes they face the sunset through the trees and seem to be watching and enjoying the last light.

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A peaceful bird is a peaceful sight, a visual lullaby before the night.

The mourning dove (Zenaida macroura) is a member of the dove family (Columbidae). The bird is also called the turtle dove or the American mourning dove or rain dove, and formerly was known as the Carolina pigeon or Carolina turtledove.

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The Dove announces the approach of spring. Nay, she does more:–she forces us to forget the chilling blasts of winter, by the soft and melancholy sound of her cooing. Her heart is already so warmed and so swelled by the ardour of her passion, that it feels as ready to expand as the buds on the trees are, under the genial influence of returning heat. – John James Audubon

A peaceful bird

mourning dove

Mourning dove and fresh snow.

A flight of six doves has been visiting the tube feeder and porch railing off and on this morning.

mourning dove

DovesĀ are calm and calming. The yin to blue jay-and-starling yang.

There is actually a species of dove called the Peaceful Dove, native to Australia and New Guinea.

And just because I feel like it, two depictions of doves in ancient and medieval art…

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Doves raiding a jewelry box, from the House of Fauns in Pompeii.

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Doves perch in a peridexion tree, where they are safe from the dragons waiting below. The dragons cannot catch the doves unless they leave the tree.

Bird watching a(nother) snowstorm

White-throated Sparrow close up

One White-throated Sparrow.

More big snow yesterday. What else was there to do but watch birds?

Anyway, it was one of my two counting days per week forĀ Project Feederwatch.

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.

White-breasted Nuthatch

One White-breasted Nuthatch.

I bet there are two that visit our feeders, I just didn’t see them at the same time on Sunday or Monday.

Mourning Dove

Subtly beautiful colors, a Mourning Dove.

I like their calmness, as the other birds flit and flap. The most I saw at once: 7.

Downy Woodpecker male

A male Downy Woodpecker, black and white with a little red cap.

In two days I counted 96 individual birds of 19 species. Three downies, one male and two females.

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Five Tufted Titmice in total, but with the definite impression I am missing some as they move so quickly. Although not quickly enough for the snow. This is the first time I noticed snow building up on some birds! What a February we are having. And today is only the 10th.

Purple Finch Valentine

A little birdie Valentine: Purple Finch.

The state bird of New Hampshire looks lovely in snow. I counted two males yesterday.

Starling

The pestiferous though kinda pretty European Starling.

At one point there were 9 in the birch trees watching the feeders, as I stood on the other side of the sliding glass door and watched them. They are spooked by people, still, but I bet they will learn fast to ignore us.

They seem to eat anything but especially like my homemade suet dough. So do the bluebirds – who are not afraid of me. I scared the starlings away a few times so the bluebirds could eat too. I may need to consider a special starling-excluding feeder if I get too many of them.

This week’s Project Feederwatch totals…

Mourning Dove 7
Red-bellied Woodpecker 1
Downy Woodpecker 3
Hairy Woodpecker 1
Blue Jay 5
Black-capped Chickadee 10
Tufted Titmouse 5
Red-breasted Nuthatch 1
White-breasted Nuthatch 1
Eastern Bluebird 6
European Starling 9
American Tree Sparrow 12
White-throated Sparrow 1
Dark-eyed Junco 12
Northern Cardinal 13
Red-winged Blackbird 1
Purple Finch 2
Pine Siskin 1
American Goldfinch 5

Flickr album: February 9 snowstorm birds

Tree Sparrow

American Tree Sparrow, with its rusty-red buzzcut hairdo.

Steve Grinley: Bird Feeders Help Birds Survive, and Breed Successfully

It has been a harsh winter here in New England and feeding birds can certainly help them survive. Birds that have stayed the winter or migrated from further north to feast on natural seeds and fruit in our area will be finding that the winter supply of natural food is being depleted. Our resident birds appreciate the added handout that feeders provide. In addition to the nourishment that bird seed and suet provide, the birds expend less energy and burn less fat, helping them to survive the cold. A number of birds that don’t normally stay the winter or that may be here accidentally and are not used to New England weather are particularly helped by seed and suet at feeders.

The dove digests

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Mourning dove in a tree at the edge of our yard.

Mourning doves eat almost exclusively seeds, which make up more than 99% of their diet. Rarely, they will eat snails or insects. Mourning doves generally eat enough to fill their crops and then fly away to digest while resting. They often swallow grit such as fine gravel or sand to assist with digestion. The species usually forages on the ground, walking but not hopping. At bird feeders, mourning doves are attracted to one of the largest ranges of seed types of any North American bird, with a preference for canola, corn, millet, safflower, and sunflower seeds. Mourning doves do not dig or scratch for seeds, instead eating what is readily visible.

mourning dove

The mourning dove (Zenaida macroura) is a member of the dove family (Columbidae). The bird is also called the turtle dove or the American mourning dove or rain dove, and formerly was known as the Carolina pigeon or Carolina turtledove. It is one of the most abundant and widespread of all North American birds. It is also the leading gamebird, with more than 20 million birds (up to 70 million in some years) shot annually in the U.S., both for sport and for meat. Its ability to sustain its population under such pressure stems from its prolific breeding: in warm areas, one pair may raise up to six broods a year. The wings can make an unusual whistling sound upon take-off and landing. The bird is a strong flier, capable of speeds up to 88 km/h (55 mph).

mourning dove

The mourning dove is a related species to the passenger pigeon (Ectopistes migratorius), which was hunted to extinction in the early 1900s. For this reason, the possibility of using mourning doves for cloning the passenger pigeon has been discussed.

Millais Return of the Dove to the Ark

The Return of the Dove to the Ark, 1851, John Everett Millais