Monthly Archives: December 2008

Woodpecker Brawl

feeder-birds-in-snow

It is snowing again on the mountain.  I had just come in from picking the new metal birdfeeders up off of the ground, putting them back together (sigh, the never ending battle with the bears.  Aren’t they suppose to be sleeping?) and filling them.  Standing at the kitchen sink contemplating buying more of the broomstick hooks to get the feeders higher in the trees, I saw a flash of red.  A Red-bellied Woodpecker was flying to a feeder, selecting a sunflower seed then hopping to the tree to peck it open.  I took these shots through the glass of the French door to the deck.  (Notice the White-breasted Nuthatch on the right of the tree?  That was a surprise.)

red-bellied-woodpecker

He methodically hopped back and forth from feeder to tree for several minutes;

red-bellied-woodpeckers-brawling

when, from out of the swirling snow, another male Red-bellied flew straight at him, taking him by surprise.  They both flew off unscathed and did not come back.    I have never seen this behavior.  Heck, I have never seen two male Red-bellied Woodpeckers in my backyard although I have a resident pair that nest on the property.  I guess one was an interloper.

Have you seen woodpeckers brawling?

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Bird Photography Weekly-Ring-necked Duck

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Looking for ducks this time of year can be scary.  Not because of the ducks, of course, but because of the orangemen and I am not talking about Syracuse.  While I was home, my sister and I wanted to go see what was shakin’ at Killdeer Plains and Big Island WMAs.  As we discussed our plans, with an eye out the window at the pouring rain, a few of the men in the family raised the hunting issue.  Apparently it is Goose and Duck hunting season in Ohio and depending on what zone you are in, the season can last until late January.  We promised to stay close to the car.

We opted to go birding on Friday thinking there would be more hunters out on Saturday.  But as we drove into Killdeer Plains in the morning, there were already lots of trucks pulled off the road and dots of orange moving across the open fields and marsh.  Holy Cow. The guys were not kidding.  I saw more blaze orange there than I have seen in all my years of living in NJ.   We did not end up staying long at Killdeer Plains; the roads were really muddy and rutted and the whole hunting thing was weirding me out.  We puttered over to Big Island where there were fewer guys in orange.  Both areas look like they would be great places to bird in migration.  Or anytime when you were not taking your life in your hands.

We went home shaking our heads wishing we had opted for Hoover Reservoir instead.  Oh well, live and learn.  To see other birds and not have to take your life in your hands, hop over to Bird Photography Weekly.

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Birdy Christmas Presents

Ever since the bears destroyed my favorite squirrel-resistant feeders back in the Spring, I have been in the market for uber-sturdy bird feeders. And lo and behold, Santa brought me 3 all-metal birdfeeders-2 tube feeders and a tray. I knew he was following me on Twitter for a reason. :0) I know, I know, they are not bear-proof, but perhaps they will be the teensiest bit bear-resistant. At least they will not break completely when in contact with bear teeth. Santa also brought me a Water Wiggler. It deters mosquitoes but entices birds. Super thoughtful of him.

I also got an oak tree camo T-shirt and sweatshirt. I have been pondering the question of wearing camo while birding for a while. The interesting thing about procuring camo in the flatland is that every store has many habitat patterns and styles. Now, I can blend in when I bird. I wonder if it will make a difference….

And you know I bought myself a digital Rebel with 2 lenses before the holiday, right? I hope to have time to play with it over the next week.

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Bird Photography Weekly-Gray-headed Junco

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I love that Juncos come in flavors.  Hmmmm, that sorta sounds like a Popsicle, but you know what I mean.  Here in the east, we have only one type of Dark-eyed Junco, the Slate-colored one.  But in the west, there are several colorful variations: Oregon, Pink-sided, White-winged, Gray-headed and Red-backed.

This one is a Gray-headed Junco.  See the reddish back and the soft gray head and chest.  The Red-backed Junco is very similar except that the bill is bi-colored.  Trust me, I checked out every Junco that was there, probably more than once, trying to make one of these into a Red-backed.  But nothing doin’.

Another fun fact, you know that Juncos are actually Sparrows, right?

What kind of Juncos do you have?

To see other birds check out Bird Photography Weekly.

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Birding in a Blizzard

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Tufted Titmouse

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Black-capped Chickadee

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Slate-colored Junco

A blizzard has struck the northeast.  We are predicted to get 12 inches of snow.  I did not go to work, so I sat snug and dry in my garage  taking pictures of my local backyard flock hustling for food.  Garages make great DRY bird blinds.

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Winter Chickadee accomodations

chickadee-box

For years now, I have been feeling the loss of my Chickadees (possessive aren’t I?) from the winter temps.  Up here on the mountain, it gets wicked cold and stays that way for days on end.  (One year it was below zeroF for 3 solid weeks.)  I yearned for some sort of winter roosting box, to give them protection.  One year, Santa brought me 3 beautiful woven grass roosting baskets that I think he picked up in England , but the birds didn’t use them and they ended up rotting.  Pity, really, they were charming.

chickadee-roosting-house

Then last year my sister (laying her finger beside her nose and with a tip from Santa) gave me this convertible Chickadee  nesting/roosting box.  The door lifts open easily and you can flip it to have the opening at the top or bottom depending if you are using it as a nesting or roosting house.   Cool, huh.  This is the first year I have used it for winter roosting.  ( Yes, yes the bottom perch is a stick, I lost one of the dowels and had to improvise.)

I am happy to say I have a flock of 14, count them, 14 Chickadees happily living in my backyard now and eating me out of house and home.

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My World- Skylands

skylands-eagle

I just love the name.  Skylands.  It rings of long vistas and a sort of mythology; like it is a place where eagles live.  And if you were to drive up to Skylands and the NJ State Botanical Gardens you would indeed find eagles.  5000 pound eagles.  And they are festooned with holiday finery at this time of year.    There is an annual gala fundraiser and volunteers dress up Skylands, the manor house at the gardens for the holidays. This year’s theme was “A Traditional Holiday”.  Apparently that also means wreathing the eagles (think lions at NY Public Library). These  eagles, for there are two of them, one on either side of the entrance to the gardens,  graced the facade of Pennsylvania Station in New York City for 53 years.  The building was demolished in 1965 and the pink granite eagles were scattered around the country.  They are intended, I believe to look fierce, but this one only looks worried or maybe chagrined to me.  Perhaps he is afraid he looks like a dork wearing a wreath.

To see the world through others’ eyes, visit “That’s my World”

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