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Showing posts from 2017

Northern Cardinals aka Red Birds

Cardinals are some of the first birds we recognize. How could you not? The males are a vibrant red, and the females are subtly elegant in their fawn colored plumage with pale red accents. Adults have bright orange bills while the juveniles have black bills. I love to watch how they quietly chatter with each other... the female will almost be scolding the male in quiet little chips and squeaks. Who doesn't like to hear the male Cardinal singing at the top of a tree each early spring? It is a sure sign that winter is almost over!
 Cardinals are quite lovely and spunky birds. One of my all time favorite feeder bird.



So Ugly They're Coot!

I <3 COOTS!


 I can't help it. The American Coot is one of the cutest, errrr, things I have ever seen! Round and plump with glossy black feathers and white bills. They swim around making the cutest clucking noises and when they emerge from the water... COOT FEET!They are blue-ish yellow with long lobed toes and they are out of proportion with the coot's body.

Coots can be found swimming in shallow ponds where they dive for plants, and they can be found on lawns grazing.
The local lake here in town always has a nice number of coots to oggle. I watch as they parade around on the grass, and swim around the ponds. My favorite part of watching coots is listening for their calls. It seriously adds to their cuteness: Listen Here.
They walk like chickens, swim like ducks, but look like coots and that is the only way I know how to describe them. Take the time to look at a few coots and you will see how different they are from other birds. Remember to look for the black feathers and w…

The Buffet

My husband swears we are running an all you can eat buffet. I am surprised he has not left me after all the sunflower seed, meal worms, suet, peanuts, and corn (for the squirrels) I have made him buy. He has shelled out even more money for bird feeders, shepherd's hooks, and bird bath heaters. He jumps out of his recliner to shoo away the squirrels, and watches helplessly as they stuff all that money into their cheek pouches before skipping back home. He attempted home made squirrel baffles and feeders that would deter grackles and starlings, but all of them failed, and he ended up shelling out more money for the expensive feeders and baffles that actually worked. This man is a saint, and all those birds and squirrels better thank their lucky stars that he loves me enough to feed them. Thank you, Jerry, for putting up with my obsession.

The Buffet's patrons are a loyal lot. They feast without shame, and sometimes carry some back home.

Bluebirds = Happiness

We use birds to symbolize different emotions or events - the American Robin is a sign for spring, the dove is for peace, and an Eagle conveys strength. These are all very fitting, and none more so than the Bluebird of happiness. Who doesn't smile when they see a Bluebird? When I see their pretty blue feathers, and fluffy orangey-pink breast it brightens my day. Their song is even a happy one (listen to it here).



 Not too long ago the Eastern Bluebird population was in decline, but with education and conservation efforts, it has made a strong come back. Starlings and House Sparrows aggressively competed with the bluebirds for nesting sites, often killing one or both parents and destroying the eggs in the process. Bluebird boxes placed in areas with good bluebird habitat have helped them have successful nesting seasons, and the numbers have greatly improved.

You can tell the females and males apart by the brilliance of the males blue feathers, but the female is, in my opinion, a bea…

Tea Time With The Eastern Towhee

Every year or two I decide to concentrate on a specific group of birds. This year it is the sparrow family, and within that family resides one of my favorites - the Eastern Towhee. They are much larger than the other "Little Brown Birds", and the males have a very dramatic colorization of black and dark orange (rufous), and the females are a paler brown with rufous breast. Towhees are a bit shy, and so you will need to search for them under brush and in thickets where they can be found scratching for seeds and insects.

The male Eastern Towhee will sing his song "Drink Your Teeeea!" at the top of his lungs every spring. He does this to attract a mate and declare his territory. Apparently male towhees think drinking tea is an extremely macho attribute! (click the link above to listen to their song)


Towhees are often found in brushy areas scratching in the leaves looking for tender nibbles. You have to look carefully to see them, but if you are patient they will somet…

The Mundane

You know who they are... those mundane everyday birds that make birders groan and curse. American Robins, Northern Mockingbirds, European Starlings, and Grackles are some of The Mundane, but gosh I love 'em.

We sometimes get tired of seeing "Red-breasted Yard Birds", but we forget to gripe about them in the late winter when they invade our yards. Instead of bemoaning their existence we look forward to the promise of warm days and spring. Sing, little Robin! Sing spring into being!
I love Mockingbirds. Sorry, but they are one of my favorite birds. I know that breeding season is close when our resident bastards start bullying everyone from the feeders. They settle down after a week or two, and eventually the other birds will return, but until that time ALL of the food is theirs!
Common Grackles are annoying... they can be one step above European Starlings on the annoyance scale. Just like Starlings they will bring all of their cousins and closest friends to your backyard …

Can You See The Greenie?

A few years ago I was walking around the little pond in our neighborhood when I heard an odd "Skeow, skeow, skeow" (click here to listen). Searching in the direction of the sound, I squinted across the pond into a large tree, and began the task of trying to determine what was hiding there. I took random photos of the tree with my iPhone, and hoped I could find the source of the sound once blown up on the computer. Can you spot the mysterious caller?

I never did see this Green Heron until I returned home. I could not believe there was such a little heron!  How cute and funny looking... Jerry and I were determined to see him again, and this time take a better photo. Little did we know that this would be easier said than done.
Greenies lurk around the brushy edges of water, and quietly wait for a fish, frog, or some other tender nibble to swim by. Once they spot prey, they transform into an efficient dinner catching machine! Out snaps a long neck and in a heartbeat it retracts.…

The Sandhill Crane

North America is home to two species of crane; Whooping, and Sandhill. Every year the Sandhill Cranes fly over my home and land in a small farming community about 7 miles away. A few weekends ago there were over 13k! The first year I saw them was with my friend Janet. She and I drove the few miles into the country, and sat in awe at the sight of 8k in a field. We listened to their "Rattles", and watched as they rested, fed, socialized, and practiced their dancing skills.


 I was so overwhelmed with the sights and sounds of this large group, that it wasn't until the following year I could truly appreciate the subtle beauty of them. With amber colored eyes, bright red foreheads, and feathers that run a spectrum of grays, and golds, they are a stunning bird to watch. Graceful and peaceful they routinely "hop" from one field to the next.



Every year people will ask me if the Sandhills are back, and I tell them it is a day today affair. I have found, and been told, th…