Wednesday, February 18, 2009

Yard Birds

I woke up early on Saturday morning, looking forward to a long morning of birding. But I woke up to rain, and ended up spending much of the morning inside (gaah! ) grading problem sets.

My one weekend-ish diversion was watching birds swarming at my feeder all morning. I'd noticed that for most of the preceding week, there had been more birds at the feeder than usual, and I've found myself having to refill the thing more frequently than ever. A biologist friend told me why: at this time of year, birds are either fattening up in preparation for migration, or in preparation for breeding.

I managed to get a few shots of my visitors while stuck indoors; I only managed to process them now. The shots are a little fuzzy because I took them through a window screen, but the birds allowed surprisingly close looks. I got both male and female Northern Cardinals (I suspect these are a pair); I never tire of seeing these.

My feeder is stocked with a sunflower seed/peanut mix, but it still attracts Carolina Wrens, which I thought were insectivores. There may well be bugs in the feeder, but I've seen the wrens extracting and cracking seeds as well. They are noisy and aggressive, and like to chase off other birds at the feeder:

Here's a Caroline Chickadee doing a pole dance on the support holding up the feeder. I've noticed just about all the birds that frequent my yard doing this:

As I sat facing the window, simultaneously grading and waiting for a good photo op, I kept hoping something more exotic would show up. Then I remembered that most of the birds that frequent my feeder—Northern Cardinals, Tufted Titmice, Carolina Chickadees, Carolina Wrens—would have been lifers for me just six months ago.

Around 9:00 on Saturday morning, the swarm of birds grew even bigger, and I realized this was because the rain had stopped. So I put down my red pen, picked up my bins, and went out to see what I could see.

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