Monthly Archives: February 2023

Project FeederWatch set 17 to 20 February as the window for this year’s Great Backyard Bird Count (GBYC). I used Cornell’s eBird Mobile app to record birds who came to the feeders on the last 2 days of the count. A disappointing number of species showed up to be tallied, although Mr. and Mrs. Wild Turkey strolled into the count one day. Otherwise, I could report only on several usual suspects: Tufted Titmice and Black-capped Chickadees, 2 Norther Cardinals, 1 Hairy and 1 Downy Woodpeckers, 1 White-throated Sparrow –really not many of any.

Yesterday — the GBYC over, I passed the kitchen window and could not miss a class of mixed-species Aves at the feeders. Grabbing my binoculars I confirmed a first-of-year (FOY) male House Finch, a FOY Mourning Dove, a runway’s worth of Dark-eyed Juncos who dress like fashionistas — a pink beak, a beautiful grey-blue slate-colored coat and white belly, a Common Grackle with its pale yellow eye ring that contrasts with the blues, greens and blacks of its iridescent wing feathers, and what my friend Carla calls THE harbinger of spring — a male Red-winged Blackbird showing only its pale yellow coverts in these days before mating plumage, the eponymous red coverts not yet expressed. Several year-round birds gathered as well: 2 of the 4 pairs of Norther Cardinals, one of the uncountable Hairy Woodpeckers, a babel of Chickadees, and an invasion of Blue Jays,

They were all there two days after the Great Backyard Bird Count closed. I took no photos but sang a birdsong of gratitude.

A red-tailed hawk is doing neck rolls as he awaits his next meal. He caught my eye when he flew from the sugar maple to the choke cherry. He perched patiently while I scrambled to first get my binoculars and then to replace the battery in the camera I haven’t used in ages. I did get a good look at him and this not very good photo. His head feathers are a reddish brown, rufous I would call them. Sibley calls his breast feathers streaked. All his plumage is fluffing in the wind.

More commonly I detect his presence — and he is a resident here — when his shadow sweeps across the garden. That means I don’t usually have all the time I’ve had this morning to study him perched on a branch. He is a massive bird. This I can tell from his shadow. He is very broad; his tail short and his beak hooked. I’m glad not to be a small mammal in the meadow.

The birds who come into the feeder are not disturbed by his presence, since he is primarily a consumer of small mammals. It’s below freezing this morning, which may explain why he is meal hasn’t yet appeared. I had to leave for a meeting before he left his lookout so I can’t report on his meal.