Birds and other mobile features in the garden 2014 #2

claireplymouth z6b coastal MAFebruary 3, 2014

This thread is intended to give people a place to post photos and/or talk about birds, critters, wildlife, fish, whatever - topics you might not want to start a whole thread on, but are still garden-related. You can see the range of possible topics in the previous threads:

All of the threads in the "Birds and other mobile features in the garden" series prior to 2013 are now stored in the New England Garden Forum Gallery. See the top of the main page to switch between Discussions and Gallery. For 2012, see the links posted in Birds and other mobile features in the garden 2012 #7. These threads have been moved to the Gallery but there may be problems with some of the links. I've corrected those I can edit and I made an Index for threads from 2008 to 2011.

2014 threads to date:
Birds and other mobile features in the garden 2014 #1

And for 2013 (I'll move these to the Gallery at some point, but not just yet):
Birds and other mobile features in the garden 2013 #1
Birds and other mobile features in the garden 2013 #2
Birds and other mobile features in the garden 2013 #3
Birds and other mobile features in the garden 2013 #4
Birds and other mobile features in the garden 2013 #5
Birds and other mobile features in the garden 2013 #6
Birds and other mobile features in the garden 2013 #7
Birds and other mobile features in the garden 2013 #8
Birds and other mobile features in the garden 2013 #9
Birds and other mobile features in the garden 2013 #10
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For a lead-off photo I'll post a picture of a streaky brown sparrow, one of the small brown birds that can drive you crazy to identify.

I'm pretty sure this is a Savannah Sparrow, a bird that normally hangs around dunes and beach grass on the Massachusetts coast in the winter. When it snows and their feeding grounds are covered, they seem to fly up the coastal bank look for feeders. I see them most winters and always struggle to distinguish them from Song Sparrows.

And in the last thread I posted pics of foxes and coyotes eating food I'd put out for the birds and squirrels.

Here are two different canids, a neighbor's dogs who stopped by as I was putting the food out. Even though I gave them the liver treats I save for such occasions, they insisted on checking out the stuff on the ground as well. I think they may have eaten the peanuts.

It started snowing soon after I took these pictures and it hasn't stopped yet.

Claire

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claireplymouth z6b coastal MA

Went out early this morning and saw the dogs had been looking for me even earlier. That's Rusty and the new dog.

This is a good sign - the neighbors are letting the dogs run loose in the morning. Maybe they'll chase the woodchucks (sorry Guthrie and Griselda et al). Back when Rusty and Roscoe (now departed) used to patrol the yard I had no woodchucks, and I had lots of free-range phlox.

Got to make sure I have plenty of liver treats...

Claire

    Bookmark   February 4, 2014 at 11:54AM
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corunum z6 CT(6)

Sparrow is nicely nestled in the grass. Is Rusty the hound and the yellow lab is new and nameless? They look like nice neighbors.

Shoveled out the feeding area and seeded well for the ground feeders. All was well until the Cooper's showed up (aka party pooper).
Just before he arrived I missed shots of Mrs. Hermit Thrush and a CT Warbler.

Jane

    Bookmark   February 4, 2014 at 4:13PM
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claireplymouth z6b coastal MA

Rusty is the hound and has an impressive bay (which he used when he flushed turkeys). Roscoe was also a yellow lab and I've heard the new one is called Mr. Bo Jangles, but I haven't run into the neighbors myself to know what his short name is.

I met him yesterday when Rusty brought him around to teach him about the liver treats. After Roscoe died Rusty stopped visiting and just hung around his house. He used to greet me when I walked by but no more daily patrols. I'm glad he has a new friend and pack mate.

Roscoe in October 2008 looking for liver treats.

And Rusty in June 2008.

Fierce hawk you have there.

Claire (waiting for the next snowstorm)

    Bookmark   February 4, 2014 at 5:17PM
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NHBabs(4b-5aNH)

Impressive hawk image!

And I love the doggie visitors. Do they discourage the turkeys?

    Bookmark   February 4, 2014 at 10:47PM
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pixie_lou

Jane - that looks like quite the stalking hawk.

Mr. Woody was blending into the snow covered tree earlier this week.

    Bookmark   February 5, 2014 at 9:46AM
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claireplymouth z6b coastal MA

pixie_lou: That downy really does look like a growth on the tree - nice pic.

nhbabs: The old pack (Roscoe and Rusty) used to annoy the turkeys but didn't really discourage them. Turkeys are probably used to free-running dogs in the neighborhood. I haven't seen any turkeys, though, for a few weeks and I'm getting worried.

This new lab is becoming a nuisance. He showed up today without Rusty and demanded his treats - I gave him some but he stayed in the yard eating birdseed and ignoring me when I told him no more. He's not a threat to me but I don't want this to continue. I went out to walk him home but I think his owners probably called him because he disappeared. I probably won't give him any more unless Rusty is with him.

Claire

    Bookmark   February 5, 2014 at 5:59PM
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claireplymouth z6b coastal MA

Went out early this morning to skim the overnight 1" snowfall off the paths (so glad I did the major shoveling yesterday) and I noticed that the paths had major traffic this morning.

Here the squirrels used the path to get from the back to the front of the house (many squirrels nest in the oaks by the bay). Food is on the ground in the front yard.

Those are the crape myrtle and viburnum shelters at the end of the path. The cardboard is holding up well, although I had to replace one piece which was too flimsy.

Claire

    Bookmark   February 6, 2014 at 1:22PM
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NHBabs(4b-5aNH)

After the snow Wednesday, the critters were pretty quiet in the areas I often see their tracks, but they may have largely retreated to the hemlocks where the snow is shallower.

A lone coyote trotted through the young pines
From February 6, 2014

I saw many of these holes with no tracks around them. Do they keep them open for good air exchange?
From February 6, 2014

    Bookmark   February 7, 2014 at 12:21PM
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NHBabs(4b-5aNH)

I went across the road into the wetter woods which have more hemlocks than anywhere else close by, and found that there were a fair number of tracks. In addition to mouse and coyote I saw snowshoe hare tracks which are much larger than regular rabbit or squirrel.
From February 6, 2014

and one I hadn't seen before, probably a mink. I think that the wider spot in the middle of this part of the track is where s/he stopped and sat for a minute - it really looked like a butt mark.
From February 6, 2014

    Bookmark   February 8, 2014 at 7:30AM
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claireplymouth z6b coastal MA

Periscope holes in the snow! Snowshoe hare tracks! Mink butt marks! nhbabs has the best winter groundcover (AKA snowcover) we've seen so far in this forum.

My squirrel tracks stand in awe.

Claire

    Bookmark   February 8, 2014 at 9:36AM
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claireplymouth z6b coastal MA

RE ventilation holes, from the Michigan State University Extension:

The Subnivean Zone, life under the snow: Part 1

The Subnivean Zone, life under the snow: Part 2

Claire

    Bookmark   February 8, 2014 at 9:51AM
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NHBabs(4b-5aNH)

Thanks for the links, Claire, and a new word, subnivean!
Your squirrel tracks are quite clear since shallow snow over a hard surface takes tracks so well. This winter, it seems tracks are all I have had to add to this thread since I have seen so few critters. The ice under the snow has kept the fields from being good food sources, and the snow has been cold enough that it squeaks, so no one sticks around to be looked at once my arrival is announced. In past winters I have flushed a snowshoe hare (not sure which of us was more startled), seen a fox in the woods, and watched more than one barred owl, but this winter even the little birds seem elsewhere. Yesterday I heard one chickadee and saw no birds or mammals at all, just tracks.

    Bookmark   February 8, 2014 at 10:47AM
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corunum z6 CT(6)

We can all stand in awe of mink butt marks. Tunneling squirrels can't hold a candle to a mink tush.

    Bookmark   February 8, 2014 at 4:12PM
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claireplymouth z6b coastal MA

None of my squirrels tunnel, Jane, at least that I know of. Do you think they're looking for something? Or just playing like a kid jumping in a pile of leaves?

Very cute pic - and it looks like it knows it.

Claire

    Bookmark   February 8, 2014 at 4:33PM
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corunum z6 CT(6)

I think they're looking for food that was buried by me while uncovering the feeding area. They've made 8 tunnel openings all in the same area, so I think it's all about food. My inability to speak squirrelese will leave us guessing.
Jane

    Bookmark   February 8, 2014 at 4:56PM
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corunum z6 CT(6)

The 8 tunnels only surround the bird feeding area, hence, it's all about food. I'm having trouble with Picasa wanting to update for too long a time, therefore, I am not uploading multiple pictures.

    Bookmark   February 8, 2014 at 5:28PM
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claireplymouth z6b coastal MA

That looks like a food-finding expedition all right, Jane. The picture of the squirrel in the tunnel nose to nose with the squirrel outside is delightful!

Claire

    Bookmark   February 8, 2014 at 5:53PM
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NHBabs(4b-5aNH)

Funny photos, Jane. I wonder how the squirrels know that the food is there. Did they watch you bury it, or do they remember that it was there, or can they smell it, or . . . ?

    Bookmark   February 8, 2014 at 6:29PM
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corunum z6 CT(6)

I think all of the above, nhbabs, plus Post-it notes.

    Bookmark   February 8, 2014 at 7:32PM
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corunum z6 CT(6)

Apparently, the robins have reached the point of desperation - they're taking the chokeberries. Their reluctance is obvious even as one plucks a berry in a grand sweeping gesture.

Jane

Hang on birdie, 37 days till SPRING

    Bookmark   February 10, 2014 at 8:33AM
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claireplymouth z6b coastal MA

Great pic, Jane, I like the way the wing follows the line of the twig.

I bet the robin is muttering to itself "yuck, yuck, yuck, swallow fast, yuck, yuck, yuck, swallow fast...."

Claire

    Bookmark   February 10, 2014 at 9:34AM
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claireplymouth z6b coastal MA

The shoveled paths may not be too deep by human standards, but to a little bird they're canyons.

An American Tree Sparrow in the canyon:

Claire

    Bookmark   February 10, 2014 at 10:31AM
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NHBabs(4b-5aNH)

I just adore the bird photos that come up on this thread!

We woke this morning to a map in the back field of the activies of our coyote visitors last night after the snow stopped.
From February 10, 2014 From February 10, 2014 From February 10, 2014

    Bookmark   February 10, 2014 at 11:03AM
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claireplymouth z6b coastal MA

Those are very interesting coyote trails darting off in different directions, nhbabs. Is there any indication/tracks of what they were following? Or do you think they were listening to the subnivean community?

I love the idea of the active community under the snow, just as when I discovered the ant communities under my bluestone path.

Claire

    Bookmark   February 10, 2014 at 2:52PM
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NHBabs(4b-5aNH)

No surface indication of what they were following, so I imagine they were hearing or smelling the subnivean community. We certainly have a lot of voles! (though in the last photo, all the tracks that come together at the right side are directed at the compost heap just off the photo. I don't mind the wild critters snacking off our scraps and pealings as long as the bears don't join in. I am more careful to bury appealing items when the bears are active.)

    Bookmark   February 10, 2014 at 4:53PM
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NHBabs(4b-5aNH)

Duplicate

This post was edited by nhbabs on Mon, Feb 10, 14 at 17:56

    Bookmark   February 10, 2014 at 4:57PM
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corunum z6 CT(6)

Claire, they seem to take snow canyons in their stride. Birds are tough! Good capture of the size effect. Have you seen any Redpolls? I haven't.

nhbabs, you have beautiful trees. They always look so regal and majestic in or bordering your open fields. Ever notice small snow siroccos in your fields? Neat property.

No canyon shots, but somebody really needs boots:

I had read that Chickadees store seeds and they certainly do in the folds of the birch bark. However, I have also noticed that despite the Chickadees steroidal industriousness, the Downy Woodpeckers seemingly follow them and take the seeds out. Lots of wasted energy so it appears.


Jane

    Bookmark   February 11, 2014 at 4:54PM
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claireplymouth z6b coastal MA

Forget the boots, Jane, that flicker needs snowshoes!

I didn't know that downies steal the chickadee's cache, but I shouldn't be surprised. Exfoliating bark is a great place to hide things except when someone is watching.

Claire

    Bookmark   February 11, 2014 at 5:47PM
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NHBabs(4b-5aNH)

Jane - Not totally sure what you mean by snow sirocco, but sometimes we have the wind carrying the snow out of the trees as in the photo below, and occasionally snow blows low across the field, but that's fairly rare since there's a good band of trees along most of the top of the river bank to cut wind. While the field is about 1/4 mile long, it is fairly narrow with trees on all sides, and so I don't think the wind has too much of a chance to build up enough to pick up too much. There was one particularly bad year at the tree/sod farm south of us when they cut the sod in spring and left the field bare all summer. We watched topsoil lift into the air all summer, but those fields are much larger in all directions than our two relatively small fields. I do sometimes see the snow lifting and blowing off those fields.

    Bookmark   February 11, 2014 at 9:59PM
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claireplymouth z6b coastal MA

nhbabs: It must have been really unpleasant to see the topsoil blowing off the neighbor's fields, when it could have been prevented so easily with a soil cover.

Moving from the lovely expanse of snow in the field above, I'm back to the small bird-sized world. Like the path canyon, the pieris shrubs become a forest grove to a white-throat. The birds hop in and out of the grove which is next to a groundfeeding area. It probably gives them a feeling of security.

A close-up of the grove (please pardon the fuzz - I shot through a dirty kitchen window and the sun was gone when I went outside):

If I were to have a fairy garden I think I'd put it under the pierises.

Claire

    Bookmark   February 12, 2014 at 1:16PM
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corunum z6 CT(6)

So when can we expect to see the miniature garden? I know a great place to get alpines.

Well, way out in back this morning Fluffy landed on a high branch to get the first strong rays of sunshine, but boy, he sure needed coffee.

There is a Sharp Shinned Hawk under all that fluff:

One that wears a mohawk on cold days:

Jane

    Bookmark   February 12, 2014 at 4:30PM
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claireplymouth z6b coastal MA

Jane: The most I might do is put a little chair under there and call it a mouse stand.

Those are wonderful shots of Fluffy! It must have been a long, hard, cold night without much sleep. Best to doze in the sun.

Claire

    Bookmark   February 12, 2014 at 5:57PM
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pixie_lou

Someone popped his/her head out of the pond for a breath of fresh air. I've been trying to google, but no luck. My guess would be snapping turtle. Though we've been having fun debates over the dinner table - loch ness monster vs abominable snowman!

From a distance I thought I might have an otter slide here. But I think its just footsteps all slipped together.

Lastly Henry in his curly tail pose.

    Bookmark   February 13, 2014 at 9:06AM
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corunum z6 CT(6)

Pixie, the first shot I can see matted in the color of the reeds and framed. It looks like abstract art no matter who poked the hole. Otters...so longing to see them again.

No one here is happy. A birch full of unhappy, miserable customers today. Maybe in another 24 hours, they'll smile again. The Cardinal pair that frequents my area is more brilliant in color than any others I've seen. He seems to glow and she has a brighter beak and under wing color.


Nobody is happy here today

However, on the brighter side of a snow storm, there is Hawaii where the Cornell folks have installed a webcam watching an Albatross nest. A baby and greenery - much needed today. Link below.

Jane

Here is a link that might be useful: Cornell webcam, Laysan Albatross baby in Hawaii

    Bookmark   February 13, 2014 at 2:46PM
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corunum z6 CT(6)

Sorry, duplicate is what happened when I answered the phone while posting. So much for multitasking.

This post was edited by corunum on Thu, Feb 13, 14 at 15:13

    Bookmark   February 13, 2014 at 2:52PM
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claireplymouth z6b coastal MA

pixie_lou: I'd go for the Loch Ness monster myself, a dwarf one, and I've heard they also slide like otters.

Nice pic of Henry looking very alert (watching out for the Loch Ness monster?)

Jane: That baby Albatross is adorable, a vibrating lump of feathers!

Your birds may be unhappy in a snowstorm, but my birds have been looking confused in rain all day. At least the birdseed wasn't getting buried, but the bluestone path was partly under water.

And a Song Sparrow decided to take a bath in the path a few minutes ago - hence the lack of light.

Claire

    Bookmark   February 13, 2014 at 4:13PM
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NHBabs(4b-5aNH)

Pixie Lou - You are warmer than we are, but the turtles here hunker down in the mud and hibernate . . . I vote for Nessie or a big fish. Didn't you have some more symmetrical spots on the pond earlier this year?

Jane - Your cardinals made me think of the gorgeous photo of 6 or so cardinals that PL posted last month. The bright color against the neutrals is really nice. I have cardinal envy - we don't often have them, I think because we are near the northern edge of their winter range.

Claire - Oh, dear, I hope that it stays warm enough that all that water drains away rather than freezes. It would be an enormous amount of ice to have to chop. At least the birds are finding use for all that water.

    Bookmark   February 13, 2014 at 5:07PM
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claireplymouth z6b coastal MA

nhbabs: This morning the path was all drained away.

This was another dope-slap lesson to me that all the careful grading in the world can be circumvented if I don't follow through with shoveling a channel to let the water continue out. I'd shoveled the gravel path so it was fine to walk on but it dammed up the drainage. Once the ice/snow melted the water ran out.

Claire

    Bookmark   February 14, 2014 at 10:43AM
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mjc_molie(z6 CT)

I have no photos to offer but had to comment on how much I enjoyed the wonderful photos and links that you folks have given us.

I look forward to more photos of winter's beauty .... even as I'm anxiously hoping for spring.

Molie

    Bookmark   February 14, 2014 at 11:23AM
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corunum z6 CT(6)

For Claire: HERE IS A LOCAL LINK TO HELP YOU

Here is a link that might be useful: Army Corp of Engineers

    Bookmark   February 14, 2014 at 12:39PM
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corunum z6 CT(6)

This morning, after another 4" of white cement on top of the 9+ yesterday, the birch tree was blooming Mourning Doves.

nhbabs: probably overkill, but there are more Cardinals on the link below IF you are interested. And another push for you getting bitula nigra close to your house for future bird feeding when you buy a camera.

Jane

Here is a link that might be useful: Winter 2014, Birds and Berries

    Bookmark   February 14, 2014 at 1:06PM
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claireplymouth z6b coastal MA

Thanks, Jane, for the link to the Army Corp of Engineers. We know them well around here - they're the people who maintain the bridges over the Cape Cod Canal and keep causing traffic jams with bridge painting and reconstruction. If I decide to build a bridge over my bluestone path I'll definitely call them for a bid.

That's a great collection of pictures on your Flickr site.

Claire, who just saw that they've posted a Blizzard Watch for the MA coast for tomorrow.

    Bookmark   February 14, 2014 at 6:06PM
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mjc_molie(z6 CT)

According to the weather report I just heard, Claire, you folks on the Cape are going to get socked. Sorry :(

    Bookmark   February 14, 2014 at 7:28PM
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NHBabs(4b-5aNH)

Jane - Definitely not overkill - really nice bird photos! And there is a river birch in my future, and berry bushes for the birds, but no feeders as I like the bears a bit further from the house. I used to have feeders, and I miss them, but I would need to leave the birds without food between when the bears emerge from hibernation and when there is a good natural supply here, and I am not comfortable getting them used to being fed, and then removing it too early.

For those of you scheduled for more precipitation this weekend, my sympathies.

    Bookmark   February 14, 2014 at 8:48PM
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corunum z6 CT(6)

nhbabs, I forgot about the bears. However, a birch, berries and a heated birdbath on a window height pole/ledge/pedestal, will bring similar photo op results - most of which are more interesting. The Hermit Thrush that now frequents my area, comes for the water mostly. He/she tried the chokeberries, but he choked at the bitterness and flew to the birdbath. Even Fluffy, the hawk, will come to the watering hole rarely, but I've seen him. I intentionally created an area to attract birds and walked back and forth from inside the house viewing the outside from both my office and the kitchen for bird viewing before planting the birch tree garden and other small gardens.

May be repeating myself, but in planning this area, the main tree had to have branches with thin and thick diameters to accommodate little and large feet and being planted only 20' from the house, it had to be a tree that would not kill the house if felled in a storm. That's why I chose birch, with Betula Nigra being the more disease resistant variety. And, a heated birdbath is far more economical than seed. Water being so critical, it is often not easily available when everything is frozen.

Claire, sincerely hope you and yours are spared during this storm and that the power stays on.

Jane

    Bookmark   February 15, 2014 at 9:11AM
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claireplymouth z6b coastal MA

The power stayed on, surprisingly, even though there are many tree branches down.

One big pine branch is on top of two hollies and the copper birdbath. I managed to move it a little bit and refill the two rubber baths so the birds could have water.

A robin seemed to take it in stride.

Claire

    Bookmark   February 16, 2014 at 4:25PM
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defrost49

Claire, that robin looks grateful. We have a single robin hanging around and I'm worried about it. Shouldn't it be with a small flock? We have bird feeders and more seed spread on the ground. The robin should be able to find shelter including under our barn.

Recently a wild turkey looked longingly at a few tiny crab apples left in a small weeping crab. I expected it might fly up to get them but it didn't.

    Bookmark   February 18, 2014 at 7:09AM
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claireplymouth z6b coastal MA

defrost49: I've had one robin here pretty much every day all winter. I think it's here mostly for the water but it also eats birdseed and probably left over berries. Lately I've been putting raisins out too.

Early yesterday morning there was a flock of 15 robins passing through but they only stayed a few minutes, maybe looking for water. The heated birdbath was on but under a leaning rose and I hadn't knocked the ice out of the other birdbaths yet.

I haven't seen the solitary robin yet today but I expect it will be back. I mostly see them in small numbers in the winter except when the winterberries are ripe. It could be that there's just not enough food in any one place to sustain a whole flock and the robins split up to utilize whatever's available.

RE grateful robin: In mornings when the snow is covering the groundfeeding areas I look out the window and see frantic activity of birds trying to find food. I almost feel a collective sigh of relief when I go out with the shovel and the watering cans, and then the seed buckets. They then eat busily but without that desperate dashing around.

Claire

    Bookmark   February 18, 2014 at 10:51AM
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spedigrees z4VT

I just wanted to say that there are river birches in my future as well. I'm not sure I have ever seen one growing, but photos of yours Jane, as well as others posted on the tree forum, have spoken to me. This spring I will be adding some to this property. Their bark is so colorful!

Our land is crisscrossed with deer trails. I think they like the easy grazing that our snowblown walking path affords. They have been plainly visible out walking about under the bright moonlight in the wee hours while I'm out with the dogs. I probably should have tried to get a long exposure photo of them, but at that hour it always sounds insurmountable to get out the camera and tripod.

I notice more birds about these days. Probably they are starting to map out their territories and attract mates. That's a hopeful sign that spring may actually return.

This post was edited by spedigrees on Tue, Feb 18, 14 at 15:16

    Bookmark   February 18, 2014 at 2:57PM
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NHBabs(4b-5aNH)

Spedigrees - Seeing river birches in person is what sold me on the idea of adding one. They grow in the tree fields of the former nursery farm south of us, and also at UNH where I work. They are graceful and move a lot when in leaf due to the delicate smaller branches, and the bark is just stunning all year. I'll see if I can get a few more photos for you. Seeing from Jane's photos how handy they are for the birds, is another big point in their favor.

That is quite a series of deer trails in your field and into the woods.

    Bookmark   February 18, 2014 at 5:10PM
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claireplymouth z6b coastal MA

spedigrees: Looking at that wide open space and the deer trails makes me marvel at the courage of deer who expose themselves to predators by venturing away from cover. I guess that's why they mostly travel at night when they're not so visible (do they? I don't have much experience with deer).

Claire

    Bookmark   February 18, 2014 at 6:06PM
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corunum z6 CT(6)

NEWS FLASH: 11:18 this morning the Titmouse's song changed. Very noticeable. Now before I get reviews of being a whacko, listen intently the next time you're outside. It's 27 days till spring and the circadian rhythms of the birds has changed as have their songs. Heard the Cardinal yesterday. They're singing a different tune.

Jane

    Bookmark   February 20, 2014 at 11:42AM
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pixie_lou

How many ways can dear Henry eat the suet? It's a special treat for him. Normally he can't reach the suet, but the wonderful snow piles have put the suet in reach.

    Bookmark   February 20, 2014 at 1:49PM
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claireplymouth z6b coastal MA

Jane: I hear your optimism (and the birds' optimism too) and I really really hope it's justified. At least we have a few days of relative warmth ahead - live in the moment!

pixie_lou: There should be an Olympic suet eating event - Henry shows fine stretching and flexibility and grace in his endeavor - a worthy representative of his squirrel nation.

Claire

    Bookmark   February 20, 2014 at 5:36PM
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claireplymouth z6b coastal MA

The turkeys are back! I hadn't seen them since mid-January and a month without turkeys is a great sadness. With all the snow and ice we've had, I wonder if they just hunkered down at the nearby gentleman farmer's place along with the guineafowl.

Anyway, early this morning they appeared and I postponed putting more birdseed out until they'd cleaned out what was on the ground and left. The regular smaller birds just perched in the shrubs and glared at the turkeys. There were about fourteen turkeys milling around. Eventually they moved out and down the road which still has some ice on it but is walkable.

And the fallen branches were appreciated - a way to get above the crowd.

Claire

    Bookmark   February 21, 2014 at 9:26AM
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NHBabs(4b-5aNH)

So nice to see turkeys again, Clarie.

And Henry's antics in his quest for suet are amazing.

    Bookmark   February 21, 2014 at 10:04AM
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corunum z6 CT(6)

Oh, happy day! 'Bout time! This thread needs turkeys. Happy for you.

Pixie - that last shot of Henry is worthy of a gold medal. Excellent.

Just the usual clientele here.

Jane

    Bookmark   February 21, 2014 at 10:36AM
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mnwsgal 4 MN(4)

Enjoying following your bird viewing and your photos of birds and animal tracks in the snow.

I also noticed the change in bird song/vocalizations. A sure sign that spring is not far away despite the continued snow accumulation. Juncos are still coming so will be awhile yet.

No turkeys but rabbits visit to clean up any birdseed on the ground. I notice most birds come at certain times in the a.m. and afternoon so scatter seed on the ground just before those times or the rabbits eat it all. Though cardinals are known as ground feeders they happily eat from my hanging bird feeder.

I use the same plastic heated birdbath which is used by many varieties of birds and the local squirrels. Somebody took a bite out of the side rim. Also took a bite from a previous one. The cold dry air causes the water to evaporate and if I don't get out every day to change the water it will be empty. The newer version has the tilt feature to empty. Occasionally I find it knocked over onto ground. Probably squirrels sitting inside trying to get the last drops.

Fewer deer around the last couple of years as more building in the area has led to habitat loss. Here in the suburbs they wander down the street day or night and move from one yard to another sampling what each has to offer.

    Bookmark   February 21, 2014 at 10:31PM
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pixie_lou

Jane - all your photos of the birds in your river birch has made me really angry that I planted my river birch down by the pond. Once the tree grows, I'll have to buy a telescope to see the birds down there!

Nice to see the turkeys again Claire.

    Bookmark   February 22, 2014 at 7:25AM
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claireplymouth z6b coastal MA

Blue Jays and birches are a nice combination, Jane.

mnwsgal: Any idea who or what would be biting a birdbath? I've never seen that here and the squirrels drink every day. I also refill the heated birdbath every day so it doesn't dry out.

Claire

    Bookmark   February 22, 2014 at 10:52AM
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corunum z6 CT(6)

Hi, mnwsgal - nice to see another birder from another frozen area. Will it ever end? Anyway, concerning the biting/gnawing of the plastic, yes, both squirrels and opossums seem to get a thrill cleaning their teeth on plastic. Don't ask me why, I'm not a possum. But they have woken me at 3AM when on my deck devouring and smashing flower pots. Maybe I should spray the pots with bourbon. If it doesn't deter them, at least they'd be happy and have an anesthetic for their gums. And, thank you for verifying the bird song change. You know it when you hear it! Certainly hope the birds know more than the weatherman. That guy has been a real downer!

Pixie - HD and Lowes here often have river birch in the spring for an okay price. Birch grow so quickly, it's not necessary to buy large trees. Mine has grown 14-18" a year since 2009 when planted. Max height should be about 40'. But as previously stated, birch won't kill your house in a storm the way maple or oak will, so it can be planted quite close.

Now Fluffy, the Cooper's hawk, has taken a liking to the birch (and the other birch inhabitants, naturally).

Jane

    Bookmark   February 22, 2014 at 12:08PM
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pixie_lou

My Fluffy, what yellow feet you have!

    Bookmark   February 22, 2014 at 3:58PM
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claireplymouth z6b coastal MA

and very sharp talons....

Claire

    Bookmark   February 22, 2014 at 4:53PM
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NHBabs(4b-5aNH)

Great photo of the cooper's hawk! He seems a regular visitor.

Today we had an unusual visitor in the cornfield. I noticed a large bird perched on the recently dumped manure pile and initially assumed that it was a turkey, but it didn't look quite right. It was also being harassed by crows which only happens with birds of prey, so I got out the big binocs and it turned out to be an immature bald eagle. Eventually the crows harrassed her (I think since it was so large) enough that she flew to one of the large pines along the river, and then eventually farther down-river. Sorry no photos since she was so far down the field.

    Bookmark   February 22, 2014 at 9:37PM
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claireplymouth z6b coastal MA

An immature bald eagle is indeed a special visitor, nhbabs. Do you see adults in the area, maybe along the river?

They're beginning to come back to southeast MA but not often seen. I think I saw an immature once when I was sitting on my deck. I heard a sudden frantic bird commotion and looked up to see the eagle stop in midair by a tree and then turn and fly off, leaving some terrified bird(s) in the tree. I'm not positive of the identification but it was the most likely one.

It felt like a gift to see it (as long as I'm not the prey).

Claire

    Bookmark   February 23, 2014 at 10:43AM
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NHBabs(4b-5aNH)

I see several eagles a year (or perhaps the same few birds more than once), but I more commonly see adults. Usually I see them when I am actually in or on the water, so I am more likely to see them in the summer. They like the large pines along the banks for perching, and often will fly when something disturbs them. The other place I see a couple per year is driving on the highway (I-93) which runs along the river. They live here year round, and in the winter I think we most commonly see them when they are traveling from one stretch of open water to another.

Here's the only photo I got where she shows up at all, just above the tree line (sort of between two large pines) right in the center of the photo.

    Bookmark   February 23, 2014 at 11:38AM
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corunum z6 CT(6)

(sending telepathic message to nhbabs: Canon SX50, Canon SX50)

Speaking of eagles, the eagle cam at Berry College now has pictures of the baby eaglet that just hatched.

Here is a link that might be useful: Berry College eaglecam

    Bookmark   February 23, 2014 at 5:10PM
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claireplymouth z6b coastal MA

It's always a pleasure to see a big fierce raptor being tender to a chick, feeding it (I don't want to know what the food is) and then tucking it in for a nap.

Claire

    Bookmark   February 23, 2014 at 5:57PM
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prairiemoon2 z6 MA

Last week, a flock of robins descended on my garden. All of the berries in the yard had already been stripped, all except for the Viburnum 'Wentworth' which had a moderate amount of large red berries dripping off it in early winter. I was starting to think there was something wrong with the berries because the birds were leaving them, but they evidently are starting to be ready to eat now.

This is the first year I've had enough berries on most of my shrubs to notice all that much if they were getting eaten. There were triple the berries on that 'Wentworth' than there were last year.

Claire, I tried emailing you the other day through Gardenweb, because I had this flock of about 12 robins and it appeared that they sampled the Viburnum berries and rejected them and some of them seemed to be a little frantic flying around the yard looking for something else. I had wondered if there was anything I could offer them, since they seemed so hungry. I've heard others say that the GW email system is just not working right, so I assume you didn't get my email. Anyway, I tried throwing some cut up oranges on top of the snow, but over the course of the day, I never saw them approach them. They did however finally start eating the Viburnum berries. And a few robins were back the next day to eat more of them. There's still a small amount of berries left on it.

I had about given up on any birds eating those berries, so I was pleasantly surprised. As I was watching them out the window, I had such a good feeling that my efforts to try to have a landscape that could feed birds through the year was starting to….. 'bear fruit' [g]. I tried to take photos, but they were too far away.

    Bookmark   February 24, 2014 at 7:25AM
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mjc_molie(z6 CT)

Thanks for the eaglecam link, Jane, and to nhbabs for the photo of one soaring between the trees. I'd love to see these birds with my own eyes... without having to get on a boat tour to do it.

Jane, your photos are always magnificent! I've bookmarked the "Jane is Here" link. You're absolutely right that the river birch is a great tree to have near bird feeders and in a yard. I think it's striking year round. It's a great stopping spot on a bird-feeder run, and the look of the peeling bark against winter snow is spectacular.

Posters have mentioned the change in birds' songs and so this morning I listened carefully for a few minutes before getting up. (We keep the bedroom window open at night when it's not so bitter.) There was a difference in the way that they sounded today. A hopeful sign of spring!

Claire, good to see that the turkeys are back. You mentioned that they probably "winter" at a nearby farm with the guinea fowl. Do the guinea fouls ever wander into your yard or are they too far away? My cousin kept a flock of them to control the ticks in her fields. They would go back and forth across the grasses like little lawnmowers as they looked for food. A neighbor near a former house also kept a flock. These would often wander across the street into the front yards of neighbors. Many times I had to slam on the brakes as they crossed the street in front of me.

Yesterday morning a mockingbird landed on the covered grill on the deck. No chance to grab the camera, but it was good to see him. My DH also he saw one weeks ago. Does anyone know much about their winter habits here in NE?

    Bookmark   February 24, 2014 at 9:47AM
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claireplymouth z6b coastal MA

PM2: I didn't get your email. I checked my member page and the box is still checked off allowing people to email me, and I do occasionally get emails although not recently. I noticed that GW is no longer emailing me replies to my threads, so they may be having problems.

I've been putting out raisins and sometimes craisins for the robin that comes here almost every day. Something is eating them and I've seen the robin feeding in that area. I've also seen the robin feeding under the suet feeder so they like suet (I also put out suet nuggets for whatever wants them).

Molie: I once had a pair of guinea fowl appear in my yard but the female only lasted one night and the male stayed for a while but didn't survive or went looking for others. It turned out these were guineas that someone in the neighborhood kept buying and they kept disappearing. Too many predators here - I've heard that the farmer has lost many of his too.

These are some photos I took of the pair and others. Those first photos of the male on the cart were taken the day after the female disappeared and he was very angry and telling me so (he was looking in the window at me).

Speaking very softly so as not to jinx spring - I heard a red-winged blackbird singing in the yard today. There's a male who's been around for a while and I saw him again today, so he may be claiming my yard.

Claire

    Bookmark   February 24, 2014 at 3:53PM
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prairiemoon2 z6 MA

That was about what I figured, Claire. I haven't been getting emails with replies either.

Raisins, Craisins, and suet….good thinking, thanks!

    Bookmark   February 24, 2014 at 6:11PM
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claireplymouth z6b coastal MA

Today the first small flock of red-wings appeared and they've been chowing down happily. They're all males - the females will come later.

Here they're joined by a few house sparrows.

I also saw the grackle again (second day).

Claire

    Bookmark   February 25, 2014 at 10:39AM
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corunum z6 CT(6)

There's hope.

    Bookmark   February 25, 2014 at 1:01PM
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corunum z6 CT(6)

Okay, maybe this American Goldfinch is ahead of the crowd, maybe not; but I undershot it and look at his spring yellow:

Jane (who, like most here, really needs to see grass and greenery)

This post was edited by corunum on Wed, Feb 26, 14 at 13:29

    Bookmark   February 26, 2014 at 1:25PM
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corunum z6 CT(6)

Opposable talons. Neat.

Jane

    Bookmark   February 26, 2014 at 4:17PM
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claireplymouth z6b coastal MA

I'll have to look closer at my goldfinches - I don't think they're that color yet but I haven't really checked.

That's a great shot of Inspector Blue Jay investigating the case of the missing sunflower seed. Where'd the snack go?

Claire

    Bookmark   February 26, 2014 at 6:32PM
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claireplymouth z6b coastal MA

Molie: I hoped someone else with more experience with mockingbirds would respond, but maybe my experience is common. I rarely see them, usually a few times a year around the time of general bird migration.

Apparently Northern Mockingbirds don't usually migrate, they stay year-round wherever they are.

Last March 23, 2013 this mockingbird checked out the food available:

A suet feeder:

The peanut/suet nugget feeder:

and I guess it wasn't pleased because I haven't seen any mockingbirds again since then.

"You'll have to do better than this if you want me to come back."

March is coming again, maybe a mockingbird will give my yard a second chance.

Claire

    Bookmark   February 27, 2014 at 10:35AM
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corunum z6 CT(6)

Those are great mockingbird shots, Claire. Looks as if he posed for you. A friend who lives in open farmland/meadows, sees mockingbirds daily. May be the 'lay of the land' that offers the right food for them. Seldom do I see them in my yard, but up the street among open fields, I see them flying from field to field.

For the past week or so, I've seen 20 Juncos (snowbirds) at a time bouncing under the feeder and chasing each other. This morning I saw this:

Jane

    Bookmark   February 27, 2014 at 11:26AM
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claireplymouth z6b coastal MA

Those juncos probably aren't heading for Canada for a while yet, Jane. More cold coming for next week.

About twenty turkeys this morning - I have to try to get a video of them marching single file into the yard. I didn't have the camera ready in time today (no coffee yet).

It was cold this morning and the sun hadn't hit this section of the yard yet. Several turkeys were standing around one-legged and looking grumpy. Turkeys excel at looking grumpy.

Claire

    Bookmark   February 28, 2014 at 11:58AM
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corunum z6 CT(6)

Holy cow, Claire! A one legged turkey! If you make a movie of the single file turkey march, maybe the Colonel Bogey March would be good background music. Just sayin'... Hehehehe

    Bookmark   February 28, 2014 at 5:33PM
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NHBabs(4b-5aNH)

Here is a regular visitor at the shop. DH took this photo of a barred owl yesterday. Last week he tried, but when his feet went out from under him as he was trying for a better angle, the owl decided to take off.

    Bookmark   February 28, 2014 at 8:23PM
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claireplymouth z6b coastal MA

Nice owl! From the back I wouldn't have been able to identify it as an owl. It's amazing how similar raptor backs look - I guess that's a very effective camouflage pattern for a tree dweller. I wonder if sparrow backs work best in grassy environments.

I can empathize with your DH slipping while trying to photograph the owl. When I was leaving my NYC neighborhood I wanted to take a photo from the sidewalk of the Siberian Elm outside my window. While backing up I tripped on the railing of the building steps next door and almost fell into the stairwell. I managed to grab the railing and pull myself back up without damaging me or the camera but it was a close call.

Claire

    Bookmark   March 1, 2014 at 10:33AM
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NHBabs(4b-5aNH)

Here's the front of the owl taken Friday through the cage on the forklift. DH was working with the wood pile, still in tree trunk form, and the owl sat and watched, waiting for unwary rodents to run out when disturbed. The owl tried to get one, but missed, and didn't seem to mind DH and the loud diesel engine operating nearby.

    Bookmark   March 1, 2014 at 2:59PM
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claireplymouth z6b coastal MA

I guess it's like peregrine falcons nesting on bridges - all that traffic noise is irrelevant. The owl must have been watching your DH working for a while and it noticed and appreciated the effect on the rodents.

I don't want to interrupt discussion here but this thread is getting very long so I'll start a new one. No problem if people want to continue here.

Claire

    Bookmark   March 1, 2014 at 3:14PM
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