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Old 1st January 2013, 03:12 PM   #1
The Shrike
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Forum Birdwatching 2013

Let's get it started.

Took a long, snowy walk this morning to kick off the New Year. Highlights included Savannah, Song, and Harris's sparrows and nice Yellow-bellied Sapsucker.

Good birding to all in 2013!

~The Shrike
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Old 2nd January 2013, 09:07 AM   #2
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Lots of views but no new posts? Come on, now. What was the first bird you encountered in 2013?

For me it was Carolina Wren.
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Old 2nd January 2013, 09:43 AM   #3
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For me, it was the usual assortment of house finches, English sparrows, rock doves, and crows.
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Old 2nd January 2013, 09:48 AM   #4
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The first bird I've seen this year was a Western Jackdaw (or Kauw as we call them here). But then again I see dozens, sometimes hundreds every single day.

The first bird I've seen this year that I do not see daily was a Grey Heron.
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Old 5th January 2013, 06:31 PM   #5
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I'm very stoked, my wife and I just got our first Snowy Owl at Ft. Stevens State Park which is at the mouth of the Columbia River.
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Old 5th January 2013, 06:46 PM   #6
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Sweet! I've never seen an owl in the wild.
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Old 5th January 2013, 08:30 PM   #7
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Not much to report here and I'm mostly just putting in an appearance to get the thread subscription so I can see some bird pictures. It's been snowy here, and more winter than we've seen for a while, and one small result is that we are once again seeing some northern raptors that we missed last year. We are right at a point where Red Tailed Hawks live most of the year, but in winter they are pushed a bit further south by an influx of Rough Legged Hawks. We saw little of them in the last couple of years, but the other day there were a couple. They're very big and distinctive with lots of black above and mostly white below. The biggest are nearly the size of an eagle. Also the biggest Northern Harrier I think I've ever seen.

Not much else from here in Western Vermont. Plenty of cardinals and a Pileated Woodpecker, always fun to see. We had an eagle fly over, but I think that was before the New Year.

So far nothing of owls. In previous winters we've had snowy owls come down from the north, but they apparently move not according to weather but the lemming population. I guess there are enough lemmings up there, so no new owls for us.
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Old 6th January 2013, 01:28 AM   #8
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First bird of the year was a Blacksmith Lapwing. Unfortunately it was just on Africam I long for the day when I'll see them from close quarters again.
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Old 6th January 2013, 03:14 AM   #9
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I don't go out much but from my window, I had several Gold Finches, Blackcap Chickadees, sparrows and last but not least a Downy Woodpecker.
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Old 6th January 2013, 10:26 AM   #10
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I was hoping that it would have been something native (as I moved to Utah last year), but of the five first birds I saw this year, four were introduced:
- House sparrow
- Starling
- Domestic Pigeon
- Collared Dove

The fifth was Golden Flicker, which makes up for the disappointment of the other four.
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Old 6th January 2013, 11:22 AM   #11
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I'm a casual suburban bird watcher and get a lot of enjoyment from the mix of birds that visit our feeder. Right now, about a half-dozen female goldfinches are holding court (males don't seem to be about from what I've noticed) as well as purple finches (male and female). In the feeder in addition to the sunflower seeds, I also placed a few handfuls of shelled peanuts around the edge (very popular) and have made it a habit to whistle a particular pattern whenever I'm doing so. Over time, the birds have gotten more accustomed to my presence, retreating less and less. The other day, a red-breasted nuthatch surprised me by landing on the feeder next to me while I was picking out peanuts and then taking one from my out-stretched hand.

Small potatoes perhaps but intriguing nonetheless.

Fitz
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Old 6th January 2013, 12:16 PM   #12
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I've only seen the usual pigeons, crows and seagulls. I'm looking forward to peregrine falcon baby season again.
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Old 6th January 2013, 08:15 PM   #13
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Red-breasted Sapsucker and Anna's Hummingbird among Junco's, Song Sparrows, Robins, Ruby-crowned, Golden-crowned Kinglets and a Hermit Thrush.





(Interestingly the Anna's was hanging around a tree the Sapsucker was tapping and would fly in and drink from the tap holes after the Sapsucker left...driving away any Kinglets that approached to do the same.)

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Old 17th January 2013, 07:57 AM   #14
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Does anyone have any experience with hand-feeding wild bird? The reason I ask is that, following up on my post of the 6th, at least one of the nuthatches has gotten surprisingly bold.

After landing on the feeder while I was placing peanuts, one individual bird started landing on my hand (which was held close to my body by my waist while I picked out peanuts so it couldn't have mistaken my hand for the feeder). This has continued but about a week ago, things went a step further. I often just stand at my front door and observe the activity on the feeder and over time, the birds have become about as comfortable with having a potential predator observing them feeding from 20' away as I would think they ever would. When it's been time to refill the feeder, I've often looked back and seen chickadees and nuthatches swinging down repeatedly by where the feeder should be even though it's very clearly not there.

So from this, I've always assumed that birds associate food with a particular place relative to certain immovable references. However, what's started happening (again with the same nuthatch) is that at least one bird has begun to recognise me as source of these tasty treats and has come and taken peanuts when I'm standing by my front door as well as part-way to the feeder.

Is this unusual behaviour or is this not-unusual behaviour that I've just not been in a position to witness previously

TIA
Fitz
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Old 17th January 2013, 08:06 AM   #15
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Originally Posted by fitzgibbon View Post
Does anyone have any experience with hand-feeding wild bird? The reason I ask is that, following up on my post of the 6th, at least one of the nuthatches has gotten surprisingly bold.

After landing on the feeder while I was placing peanuts, one individual bird started landing on my hand (which was held close to my body by my waist while I picked out peanuts so it couldn't have mistaken my hand for the feeder). This has continued but about a week ago, things went a step further. I often just stand at my front door and observe the activity on the feeder and over time, the birds have become about as comfortable with having a potential predator observing them feeding from 20' away as I would think they ever would. When it's been time to refill the feeder, I've often looked back and seen chickadees and nuthatches swinging down repeatedly by where the feeder should be even though it's very clearly not there.

So from this, I've always assumed that birds associate food with a particular place relative to certain immovable references. However, what's started happening (again with the same nuthatch) is that at least one bird has begun to recognise me as source of these tasty treats and has come and taken peanuts when I'm standing by my front door as well as part-way to the feeder.

Is this unusual behaviour or is this not-unusual behaviour that I've just not been in a position to witness previously

TIA
Fitz
Some feeder denizens like chickadees take very quickly to hand feeding. I remember years ago also some norther feeder eaters that would flock around my ex wife and eat out of her hand, off her shoulders, etc. I can't now remember what they were, since it was about 40 years ago. Probably some kind of finches.

Chickadees will come back to a feeder over and over even if it's been empty for a long time.
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Old 17th January 2013, 08:44 AM   #16
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Originally Posted by fitzgibbon View Post
Does anyone have any experience with hand-feeding wild bird? The reason I ask is that, following up on my post of the 6th, at least one of the nuthatches has gotten surprisingly bold.
I've certainly known wild birds that had become that comfortable with humans. Canadian geese can be pretty fearless and will actually get aggressive, particularly if you're holding a piece of bread. And they won't always wait for you to take the piece of bread out of the bag . . . In my experience, mallards aren't aggressive but they're comfortable enough around humans that you have to be careful not to step on them. I once had to actually pick up a rock dove with both hands and throw the bird to get it to stop eating rice from my plate. At first I simply brushed it away, but then it jumped up on the table between me and my plate, so I felt that sterner measures were needed.

Nuthatches are much, much cooler than rock doves, or mallards, or geese, though, so I gotta envy you that.

Actually, almost all birds are cooler than rock doves.

Quote:
So from this, I've always assumed that birds associate food with a particular place relative to certain immovable references. However, what's started happening (again with the same nuthatch) is that at least one bird has begun to recognise me as source of these tasty treats and has come and taken peanuts when I'm standing by my front door as well as part-way to the feeder.

Is this unusual behaviour or is this not-unusual behaviour that I've just not been in a position to witness previously
I've found that the birds in my neighborhood associate me with birdseed. If I spend any time in my back yard, I'll often find that birds accumulate on the telephone wires, tree branches, and the edge of the roof, all facing me. And I don't feed them that often.

None of those birds will come anywhere near me, though.

<sigh> and my neighborhood birds are primarily English sparrows, house finches, rock doves, and crows, none of which are terribly cool birds. The 'better' birds - the scrub jays, sharp-shinned hawks, black phoebes, etc, don't seem terribly interested in the birdseed.

On the plus side, the seagulls don't go for the seed, either.

ETA: From what I've seen of brown pelicans, I believe that they'd be quick to eat out of your hand if you were holding a bit of fish. But I suspect that your hand would never be the same afterwards, so I wouldn't recommend this trick. Seriously, have you ever heard anyone say, "as dainty as a pelican?"
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Old 17th January 2013, 11:10 AM   #17
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Originally Posted by bruto View Post
Some feeder denizens like chickadees take very quickly to hand feeding. I remember years ago also some norther feeder eaters that would flock around my ex wife and eat out of her hand, off her shoulders, etc. I can't now remember what they were, since it was about 40 years ago. Probably some kind of finches.

Chickadees will come back to a feeder over and over even if it's been empty for a long time.
Hope springs eternal.
That's what I was expecting so it surprised me that a nuthatch was the first one to have a go. I've seen all kinds of photos of chickadees taking feed from hands, perched on camera lenses, etc. so assumed that they'd be the first. Instead, they just complain from a couple of branches up.

Originally Posted by dasmiller View Post
I've certainly known wild birds that had become that comfortable with humans. Canadian geese can be pretty fearless and will actually get aggressive, particularly if you're holding a piece of bread.
Yeah, the goose mob. On behalf of Canadians everywhere, our apologies in general and for US Airways Flight 1549 in particular.


Originally Posted by dasmiller View Post
In my experience, mallards aren't aggressive but they're comfortable enough around humans that you have to be careful not to step on them.
We had a pair nest in our neighbourhood over 3-4 years (lots of pools; who needs lakes and rivers when you gots pools? ). The female would graze under our bird feeder and I'd step out and pitch peanuts to her. She'd come within about 6' but the male would always be looking as if thinking 'WTF woman??!? What's this ****? Don't you think that SOB might be packing?' Clearly, taking food was against his better judgement at least on our street.

Originally Posted by dasmiller View Post
I once had to actually pick up a rock dove with both hands and throw the bird to get it to stop eating rice from my plate. At first I simply brushed it away, but then it jumped up on the table between me and my plate, so I felt that sterner measures were needed.
We have mourning doves. Not the brightest creatures to take flight. One tried to fly through our living room window realising at the last possible moment that the pattern was full but not in time to avoid leaving a Wile E. Coyote-type both-wings-and-full-body-outline in bird dander on the window. I only cleaned the window off under protest before we were going to have guests over. I got a lot of amusement out of that.

Shoulda taken a photo. It was epic.

Originally Posted by dasmiller View Post
Nuthatches are much, much cooler than rock doves, or mallards, or geese, though, so I gotta envy you that.
Interestingly, the red-breasteds are the bold ones. The one doing the hand-feeding is one and its mates dart in and grab peanuts from the feeder as I'm beside it. The white-breasted ones just watch from the tree with a 'will you please hurry the Hell up' look about them.

Originally Posted by dasmiller View Post
I've found that the birds in my neighborhood associate me with birdseed. If I spend any time in my back yard, I'll often find that birds accumulate on the telephone wires, tree branches, and the edge of the roof, all facing me. And I don't feed them that often.
I have a whistle I do that they've come to associate with me. With the red-breasted nuthatches, I've found they'll chirp neeyak-neeyak-neeyak from wherever they happen to be and gather around.

Originally Posted by dasmiller View Post
<sigh> and my neighborhood birds are primarily English sparrows, house finches, rock doves, and crows, none of which are terribly cool birds. The 'better' birds - the scrub jays, sharp-shinned hawks, black phoebes, etc, don't seem terribly interested in the birdseed.
We have sparrows (fewer this year than others for some reason), purple and goldfinches, chickadees, the nuthatches, blue jays and cardinals. The jays will take peanuts too (I can pitch them and they'll fly down and scoop 'em up until they don't have anymore room in their crop. Then they'll try to make a sound and it'll come out kind of strangled). The cardinals have sort off gotten used to having peanuts tossed in their direction and will drop down to get them and then fly off. Trouble is, the local grey squirrels have gotten wise to 'bird on ground means peanut' and will charge any jay or cardinal they see on the ground in an attempt to frighten the bird off its peanut.

About the coolest sight I've seen is a few winters back when a cooper's hawk was down in the snow on our front lawn, disassembling an unfortunate black squirrel starting at the tail and working north.

Originally Posted by dasmiller View Post
From what I've seen of brown pelicans, I believe that they'd be quick to eat out of your hand if you were holding a bit of fish. But I suspect that your hand would never be the same afterwards, so I wouldn't recommend this trick. Seriously, have you ever heard anyone say, "as dainty as a pelican?"
Dainty? No. Wouldn't hurt though I should think. A few years back, we were in Cartagena, Columbia and there was a toucan that would parade around the outdoor patio for edibles and was quite tame. It was perched on the back of a chair at a table next to us and the couple were simultaneously intrigued and scared of the bird. It would occasionally snap its beak at them and they'd pull their hands away, assuming that it would hurt. I started feeding it and when I wasn't prompt enough for it, it grabbed a couple of my fingers. Didn't hurt FWIW. Bird almost seemed annoyed that the illusion was lost.

Fitz
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Old 21st January 2013, 01:10 PM   #18
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An exciting day - we just had a flock of 20+ red polls at our feeder here in Putnam County, NY. They were around for about 45 minutes and then flew off. I hope they'll be back. Couldn't tell for sure whether they were common red polls or hoary red polls but the relative rarity of the two species and Occum's Razor strongly suggests the former. The common isn't a new bird for me but I've only seen one once before in the late 1960s in New Hampshire. This flock must be part of the eruption of finches and grosbeaks that is bringing more northern species south this winter. In November there was a lone female evening grosbeak at the feeder. I remember seeing flocks of these in New Hampshire when I was in high school and haven't seen one since.
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Old 21st January 2013, 01:56 PM   #19
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I've had nuthatches (regular, not red-breasted) eat from my hand along with chickadees. This was at an established place in a forest preserve where people hung out with peanuts in their hands. Some people were also getting tufted titmice.

Here, mostly Juncos. One downy woodpecker pecking at the ice. Possibly the calls of a great-horned owl in the night, but faint so I couldn't tell if I was hearing it. They're regulars around here, though.
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Old 21st January 2013, 02:16 PM   #20
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Originally Posted by thines View Post
An exciting day - we just had a flock of 20+ red polls at our feeder here in Putnam County, NY. They were around for about 45 minutes and then flew off. I hope they'll be back. Couldn't tell for sure whether they were common red polls or hoary red polls but the relative rarity of the two species and Occum's Razor strongly suggests the former.
There's been one hanging around our feeder outside Toronto. I'm guessing its Hoary rather than a Common as my bird book describes the Common as having "a bright red" patch on its head whereas the little guy I saw wasn't that bright.

Originally Posted by thines View Post
The common isn't a new bird for me but I've only seen one once before in the late 1960s in New Hampshire. This flock must be part of the eruption of finches and grosbeaks that is bringing more northern species south this winter.
Purple and Goldfinches have been hanging around here even on the coldest days. Seems to me these southern birds are loading up on antifreeze.

Fitz
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Old 21st January 2013, 02:22 PM   #21
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Smew, waxwings, pink-footed geese.
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Old 21st January 2013, 03:05 PM   #22
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Originally Posted by sphenisc View Post
Smew, waxwings, pink-footed geese.
Rutland Water Reservoir?
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Old 21st January 2013, 03:09 PM   #23
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Loch Of Kinnordy, and woods and fields round Angus.
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Old 22nd January 2013, 01:43 AM   #24
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My dads birdfeeders: tits and lots of them, big tits, blue tits, willow tits, nuthatches, bullfinches, and, after dad threw out some apples, waxwings.
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Old 24th January 2013, 03:57 AM   #25
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This time of year, I don't find it that surprising there're blue tits around the feeder

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Old 26th January 2013, 03:42 AM   #26
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I'm about to go to Cape Town for half a year, and in anticipation of that happy event, I decided to finally get binoculars suitable for sustained birdwatching. As I can't quite afford to splurge on anything on a Swarovski level, I went with a well-regarded mid-range pair - Nikon Monarch 5 (8x42). My favourite feature is the enormous eye relief, 19mm, so I don't have to take off my glasses. Took them out for a spin into the snowy countryside east of Munich this morning.

What fun! Even moderately powerful binoculars add so much detail. There were plenty of Eurasian Nuthatches (Sitta europaea) around, and mixed in with them a lone Short-toed Treecreeper (Certhia brachydactyla), like a scuttling spider among the gaudy beetles. Three Great Spotted Woodpeckers (Dendrocopos major) were hammering on the same stump. I spotted a Redwing (Turdus iliacus) and a Goldcrest (Regulus regulus) lurking in the pines. Several Eurasian Jays (Garrulus glandarius) were being noisy. And one big owl took off across a clearing - I'm guessing Long-eared Owl (Asio otus). Blue and Great Tits and crows ad lib.

It's certainly more busy than I would have expected from these grudgingly retained pine stands and hedgerows. But then I guess birds do care less about being bracketed in by highways on three sides than I do.
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Old 28th January 2013, 01:01 AM   #27
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Rough-leg hawk from birding trip up the Columbia river this weekend. Also Barrow's Goldeneye and a White Pelican.
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Old 28th January 2013, 05:32 AM   #28
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With the recent snow in the UK, our garden became the only place locally where the birds could find food, so we had plenty of customers.

Coming in from feeding them one day, I saw a bird which looked like a blackbird land in the tree.

I just had this feeling about it, so watched it through the binoculars and when it finally showed itself properly, it turned out to be a fieldfare.

They're common in rural areas but this was the first time I'd had one in the garden.
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Old 29th January 2013, 03:08 PM   #29
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On Sunday I was able to see an Ovenbird, an extremely rare bird for our part of the woods. Here was on the sign on the door of the gracious birder:


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Old 30th January 2013, 01:33 AM   #30
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Ground-nesting warbler, eh? Looks like the kid of LBB you'd need some luck to pick out of the foliage...
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Old 30th January 2013, 12:14 PM   #31
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Originally Posted by sphenisc View Post
Smew, waxwings, pink-footed geese.
In darkest East Lothian we also had a bunch of Scandinavian waxwings around at the end of the year.
Saw a couple of greenfinches on the seed feeder today, fighting off the sparrows.

I had a laugh at an ad on the radio which said "Hummingbirds are the only birds that can fly backwards", just as a carrion crow went past, doing exactly that and looking totally unhappy about it.
It's been pretty windy here.
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Old 30th January 2013, 12:21 PM   #32
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Bald Eagles (many manys of them) Neah Bay, Wa.

Crows (everywhere I go)

Sea Gulls (Redmond Town Center, Wa)
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Old 31st January 2013, 04:49 AM   #33
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We just got back from a week on Madeira.

It's the first place I recall ever going where I did not see a single crow.

I've seen them at minus 45 in Kazakhstan and plus 52 in the Sahara- where I watched a row of them standing shoulder to shoulder with their feet in a rivulet of water overflowing from a tank. Easily my favourite birds. Huge fun to watch.
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Old 15th February 2013, 03:26 PM   #34
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From my afternoon walk

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Old 15th February 2013, 07:44 PM   #35
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Originally Posted by Alareth View Post
From my afternoon walk

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Coincidentalyy, a couple of days ago I had a Darter (as an Aussie would call them) sitting out on my pontoon sunning itself. I was surprised, when I came down to check a rod, how bold the bird was. Like the one in this video, it was very reluctant to give up its roost (which was next to the rod). Cormorants, on the other hand, are much more cowardly.

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Old 17th February 2013, 02:37 PM   #36
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A few nights ago, a while after sunset and getting pretty dark outside, I saw something gray streak into the lower branches of the trees across the parking lot where I live. I told my wife I thought it was a hawk, Cooper's maybe. We stepped outside with the binoculars and noticed it was a Barred Owl. He stuck around for a minute while I went in for the camera. One quick shot from about 40 feet, near darkness, just the small flash on the camera, and this is what I got...


February 14, 2013, in central Illinois, USA.
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Old 22nd February 2013, 02:04 AM   #37
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Stumped on this - thought it was a young Kookaburra but it's not. Can't sort it.
Tropical Australia rain forest.
Insect eater.



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Old 22nd February 2013, 08:39 AM   #38
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Originally Posted by macdoc View Post
Stumped on this - thought it was a young Kookaburra but it's not. Can't sort it.
Tropical Australia rain forest.
Insect eater.
Found 'im! Looks like a young Black Butcherbird (lower image). Powerful large beaks, gentlemen...
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Old 23rd February 2013, 10:32 AM   #39
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White-Throated Sparrows spend most of the year from Michigan and Wisconsin north to the Arctic Circle. In the winter they are seen anywhere from Illinois to the Gulf of Mexico. They seem to be coming back through Illinois now on their way north. We usually see a lot of them for just a few weeks at this time of year.




He was only about 5 feet away when I got the photo. We're in a garden level apartment, so the window is at waist level inside, but at ground level outside. The birds wander around literally inches from the window. Check out those white head stripes and throat patch all accented with black. And those mustard yellow eyebrows. Gorgeous!
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Old 23rd February 2013, 12:49 PM   #40
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Originally Posted by GeeMack View Post
He was only about 5 feet away when I got the photo. We're in a garden level apartment, so the window is at waist level inside, but at ground level outside. The birds wander around literally inches from the window. Check out those white head stripes and throat patch all accented with black. And those mustard yellow eyebrows. Gorgeous!
Impressive eyelashes on him too (assume you've named him "Jack"). If there's resolution left, could you zoom in on the eye?
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