Saturday, February 13, 2010

Backyard Bird Count


Just before taking these photographs, a male downy woodpecker had joined the female downy and hairy woodpeckers. They foraged on the septic field, littered with shagbark hickory nuts that the neighbor's two dogs have not yet eaten. Notice how the back-of-head patterns differ on the two birds. Now, if only a male and female Cooper's and sharp-shinned hawk each would pose together for my camera.

White-throated sparrow boots the dark eyed junco, song sparrow boots them both. Blue jays fill their gular pouch with 5 seeds. While the jays feed, no birds come to the feeder, save a feisty chickadee or an occasional mourning dove who was posted his/herself. A female red bellied woodpecker ousts the jays. The birds follow each other, watch each other. One finds a place where a branch broke from a tree; the other bird, if tougher, bigger or arriving from a strategic location, swoops in. The first bird flies away.

We had a Cooper's hawk, or a sharp shinned hawk (more likely), as a sentinel over the feeder this week. Two white-throated sparrows and one tufted titmouse missed the warning call. All other birds had fled. The sparrows, stood immobile, heads flattened, under the scraggly multiflora behind the feeder. The titmouse perched on a branch nearby, also immobile with crest flattened. A titmouse without a crest looks like a big-eyed schoolboy with his hair plastered down for dress up.

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