new bird sighting (at least for me)

earthlydelights(6 pushing 7)September 14, 2006

When i let the dogs out early evening, there was this most fascinating bird perched on the edge of the garage roof. I was so sorry i opened the back door quickly and made too much noise, as it startled him/her and flew away. i would have loved to observe this bird more or try and grab a photo but was captivated watching it fly away. good sized bird, amazing color, great wing span - i have never seen anything like it before.

i immediately went through each bird book i have and the only thing that seemed to come close was a grouse. i'm sure i'm at the half-way point in my life, but i have never seen this species before. i love nature and especially anything that is new to me. i was just surprised to see something like this.

i now know (or kind of remember) it's our state bird. sure hope he/she comes back soon.

what a nice surprise on a rainy day!

be well, happy blooms

maryanne

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naturenut_pa(z6 PA)

while i see them on a daily basis, i am still amused by some of the birds in the backyard: the white breasted nuthatch bobbing it's way 'round and 'round the trees with it's funny noise; the cute little finches; the brazen brown headed cow birds with their shrill cries that will allow you to get within 3 feet of them.

but i know what you mean about sighting a new bird. for the FIRST (and only time) in my life, i saw a bluebird about 2 years ago. the color was so amazing, so brilliant. unfortunately i was driving at the time, or i'd have watched it for as long as i could.

i hope your bird returns!

    Bookmark   September 15, 2006 at 11:49PM
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zeffyrose_pa6b7(6b7)

About two weeks ago I had the sprinkler on and heard all this rustling and lots of action.

My DH got out the book and we are pretty sure they were young Baltimore Orioles---they came everyday about 11:30 A.M.---then we had so much rain I didn't need to water so I haven't seen them lately.

I also saw a Bluebird just once near a farmhouse on Brounsburg Rd. what a beautiful bird.

Florence

    Bookmark   September 17, 2006 at 7:40PM
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Pipersville_Carol(z6 Bucks PA)

A grouse, how cool!

And I'd love to see a Baltimore Oriole. I've seen them in fields, but only "count" the birds actually seen on our property.

I saw one bluebird this year, after not seeing them for a few. Such a gorgeous color. They wouldn't look out of place in a tropical rain forest.

I'm on the hunt for an definite osprey sighting. I THINK I've seen them several times, but haven't been able to identify them for sure.

    Bookmark   September 20, 2006 at 1:03PM
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chescobob(z6b SEPA)

I have all sorts of birds here. Bluebirds, blue jays, cardinals, nutfinch, bald eagles, hawks, uh, uh, uh. Woodpeckers too. I haven't taken the time to sort them out yet.

My favorite are my gardening buddies--the turkey vultures.

On Monday, there were about 100 vultures overhead here--mostly black. (I count as many as I can and then estimate from that.) Did you know that black vultures make a noise when they flap their wings quickly? Sounds like "wep, wep, wep" during the wing movement. I couldn't tell if they were grunts or the sound of the wings cutting through the air. I know vultures do not make much noise. It is the first I heard it.

Normally, turkey vultures drop by for visits while I am in my yard. They always come down and float overhead just to show off. They think they are good looking. Black vultures don't do that.

    Bookmark   September 22, 2006 at 6:03PM
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cranebill(6)

Fascinating, earthlydelights. I'm curious about some aspects of your sighting? Do you put out any wild bird food? (Or does your beloved dog have a hunting instinct or an appetite for fowl that would dissuade you from doing this?) I'm not sure, but I'm pretty sure that :"grice" ( sorry, couldn't resist it, er...) grouse feed primarily on grains, with some bugs as nutritional supplements. Are you near any fields or other likely habitat, with maybe some marginal areas boundaries of trees between fields and woods? They move and forage in flocks, so I'm surprised you found a solitary bird. I hate when I see a social type bird in isolation. We've had a lone swan, evidently a confirmed bachelor or bachelorette, inhabiting a small pond behind our house since late spring, for instance, while a large flock (covey? bevey? gander?)of swans seemed to be living it up and partying hard at the local waterpark all summer. I always want to return such social isolates to their flocks, or feel sorry that they might feel themselves to be unfit for avian society, or worry that they're injured or blown off their migratory course. The swan seems perfectly content, though.

But back to the grouse...I was surprised at first that you found it perched, as they are usually on the ground. But then I remembered that the only two times I saw grouse in PA (it was somewhere in the northern tier counties), we had accidentally flushed them and they flew into the lower branches of some wood's edge trees for cover. I also believe they roost in such trees.

cranebill

    Bookmark   October 13, 2006 at 2:09PM
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earthlydelights(6 pushing 7)

cranebill, i too was surprised to see this bird. i could shoot myself in the foot for making all that noise and startling it. had the back door been open, i would have been able to observe it more through binoculars and then photograph it. i went on a major expedition to find out what it was.

i am 5 miles from a bird sanctuary and i thought maybe it came from there. when i call the county nature center, they then reminded that i am closer to the environmental center so it probably could have come from there. i was told they normally travel in pairs but this guy was alone. even for that brief couple of seconds of being that close, it seemed lost and out of its element. and it was indeed perched on the very front of the garage roof as if it was waiting for a travelling companion. i watched it fly from my roof to the neighbor's and then just take off. i have not seen it since.

i do in fact feed the birds, something my mother instilled in us at a very early age. i have one neighbor that "gets annoyed" at the amount of birds sometimes that are in my yard. personally, i love it. i've been hoping and waiting for a hummingbird among the many visitors i get, but what a treat to see this one. even though i didn't get to snap a picture, the image will forever be etched in my mind. it was truly a treat for me...what a pretty bird.

don't ya just love nature? it never ceases to amaze me.

be well,
maryanne/earthly

    Bookmark   October 14, 2006 at 10:38PM
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cranebill(6)

I do indeed, earthly delights! And fifteen years of planting my small urban property with critter-friendly plants and eschewing chemical fertilizers and controls gives me an increasing variety of birds, bugs and mammals to observe each year. Regulars birds are large flocks of mourning doves and of goldfinches and housefinches and dark-eyed juncos, as well as numerous cardinals, robins, bluebirds, chicadees, tufted titmouses, white-breated nuthatches, downy and hairy woodpeckers, house and carolina wrens, fox sparrows, and white-throated sparrows. This year we had a breeding pair of song sparrows (one of my favorites) in the neighborhood, but poor mom was knocking herself out trying to cram enough food into the two cowbirds babies that made up her first brood. I'd only ever seen a few hummingbirds in my yard until this year, during which I've seen them about a dozen times. One time a pair of them shocked me a little by literally getting in my face, zooming in and hovering noisily a few inches in front of my eyes for about ten seconds. I don't know what they were up to, but their behavior had me laughing out loud. We also see a lot of red-tailed hawks in the area and they've been coming in pretty close to my yard. Sharp-shinned hawks are regular visitors also. They're after the doves and songbirds and they get them sometimes, too. I'm a little conflicted about fattening up the feeder birds for the predators but it seems way better to continue to support all the bird populations by continuing to feed them. One hawk per three or four hundred songbirds is probably more than balanced in the latter's favor. We've also got a lot (too many) Canada geese doing flight maneuvers overhead, and chimney swifts and nighthawks to watch late summer evenings, too. We're seeing more and more turkey buzzards wheeling around.

Less frequently, we've seen rose-breated grosbeaks and yellow-crowned sparrows. Once I heard a sound that flashed me back immediately to the five-and-dime I knew as a kid. Looked up and sure enough, there was a saucy green parakeet singing from the branches of a little dogwood. He seemed thrilled about his freedom. I couldn't coax him into my hand, and it got down nearly to freezing that night. I looked for him over the next couple of days but never saw him. For several years running there had been a pair of peregrine falcons nesting on top of the Pennsylvania Power & Light building in my city's downtown, and we used to see them frequently flying high over our block. They're so much fun to watch - they seem to get into doing outrageous flight stunts, maybe simply because they can. I think I once saw one of them dive onto the eaves of my house and snatch up a house finch or sparrow. I'm not sure it wasn't another kind of raptor, though, because it happened so fast. We still see peregrines around once in a while, but I don't think they're resident within the city limits these days. We are about thirty miles from Hawk Mountain, so these peregrines might be in migration. The sharp-shinned hawks stay all year, and they eat their catch on the ground in my yard. Seems to take them forever; they pluck off each feather before getting down to their meals.

I want to emphasize that all this activity is going on in the middle of a city on a property that is less than a fifth of an acre (maybe a lot less). I'm amazed at what I can see from my back door, more and more every year. I think it may have something to do with a greener attitude toward pest control among regional gardeners and a growing popularity of habitat gardening.

cranebill

    Bookmark   October 15, 2006 at 10:16AM
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chescobob(z6b SEPA)

Wow, all those birds. I'm new to the country and just beginning to notice. Today, I walked out on the deck and saw a bald eagle overhead. For a moment, an apparent red-tailed hawk made a pass at it and gave it a good squak. (Apparent because I am still working on identification of most birds.) The eagle paid little attention.

I believe I may have seen an immature bald eagle today also. His head was just getting some white and the size was right. However, I didn't get a good look at its beak.

    Bookmark   October 15, 2006 at 8:41PM
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Pipersville_Carol(z6 Bucks PA)

Wow, a bald eagle!

I saw one of those years ago while commuting home from Princeton NJ. I was stuck in traffic and watched it through my sunroof for a good long time. It was being harassed by small birds. I'll never forget seeing that shining white head.

    Bookmark   October 16, 2006 at 11:31AM
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chescobob(z6b SEPA)

We have the right conditions for bald eagles here. Quiet, trees, and plenty of water and fish.

Earlier this year was the best--maybe it was March or so. I was walking my dog when I heard an eagle squawk. Then I looked and 3 mature bald eagles were in a tree behind my house squawking.

When I did the walk through on this house in January 2004, I was looking out the door to the deck. The deck is about 15' off the ground. As I was looking, a bald eagle flew by the deck at my eye level. It pointed its head at the deck while it was flying and I could see its beak and eyes.

I had never seen a bald eagle until I moved here.

    Bookmark   October 16, 2006 at 4:32PM
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llangrove(z5PA)

There is a small stream at the rear of our property and a lake that a fishermen's club keeps stocked, nearby. Last week I thought I saw a heron overhead, flying toward the lake. A few days ago I couldn't believe my eyes! A Great Blue Heron had landed near the steam in search of a snack.

    Bookmark   October 19, 2006 at 1:02PM
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earthlydelights(6 pushing 7)

i've seen more hawks in various areas in the last few years, but a bald eagle....W O W !!!!!!!!!!!! that would be a real find. i've been trying to plant more things to draw in different types of birds and create little sanctuaries for them so they will continue to come around and bring their friends and family :) i don't mind the geese flying overhead, as a matter of fact i welcome their sound and enjoy the view, but i'm not wanting them to land. i'm still fascinated over the bald eagle.

do any of you belong to a bird-watching group, or is it something you just observe on your own?

be well,
maryanne

    Bookmark   October 19, 2006 at 10:49PM
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chescobob(z6b SEPA)

maryanne:

The extent of my knowledge about birds is that they fly and their ancestors were dinosaurs.

I just got lucky with my purchase of this house.

The bald eagles are easy to identify because of their colors. However, we do have some juvenile bald eagles here and they are more difficult to identify. I saw 3 mature bald eagles at once so we have at least those 3 adults. I did identify at least 1 juvenile last year. I'd guess that there are between 4 to 10 bald eagles here.

The best part of the eagle is its squawk. It is deep, for a bird, and powerful. When I hear it, its time to look around.

I saw something fly by yesterday that I could not identify. It was a large bird with a thin tail that seemed to have a little ball at the end of the tail in flight. We have a lot of different birds here in the Winter. I just don't know what they are. I am practicing with a 12X optical lens camera when I get time. Its tough to aim the thing but I did get practice photos of 2 turkey vultures.

    Bookmark   October 19, 2006 at 11:26PM
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Pipersville_Carol(z6 Bucks PA)

I don't belong to a birding group, but when I moved to this house I bought a really good birding book and have been keeping track of what I see. I've heard that birding groups are fanatical, is that true? The original Audobon group started in Pennsylvania, right?

"Bird people" are a special breed. I visited friends in England a couple of years ago, and was introduced to a woman who was a birder (among other things). She mentioned she'd seen a spoon-billed duck that morning. No one else in the room cared, but I've always wanted to see one and she and I immediately had a nice little transatlantic birder chat. People who look at birds are the same the world over!

    Bookmark   October 20, 2006 at 12:17PM
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chescobob(z6b SEPA)

OK, humor me on this one. Everybody, get excited now. By dumb luck, I caught a nice image of a red-tailed hawk flying away from me--and--you can even see he has a red tail.

Now, if I can figure out how to crop images and download them . . . . With a little experience, we are going to have a Winter of Bald Eagle images here.

    Bookmark   October 21, 2006 at 2:07PM
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chescobob(z6b SEPA)

I did it. Here are some of my buddies. (These are my first 2 bird images.)

Turkey Vulture

Red Tailed Hawk

    Bookmark   October 21, 2006 at 11:19PM
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earthlydelights(6 pushing 7)

bob how wonderful. thanks so much for sharing. were you prepared or did they stay long enough for you to run and get your camera?

carol, growing up we had neighbors that were birders and they were a little "special". i could never understand as a kid why they didn't have a television but constantly watched slides of birds and their trips. now i certainly wish i had the benefit of their expertise.

i think alot of what we are seeing is the pushing out of nature due to all the building and tearing down of natural habitats, afterall we need more shopping centers and mini marts (said with sarcasm).

i have noticed more and more hawks in different areas, when as years ago, you went to hawk mountain for that sight. now that i look at that turkey vulture picture, maybe i have seen one and just thought it to be something else. i am definitely keep my eye out for anything a little different because i'm like a little kid at christmas i just get too excited. nature does that to me.

up close and personal in my life in the world of birds, aside from the regulars, i've seen a hummingbird (only once), an owl (which was just so out of this world), a wild turkey (and not the driking kind), a blue bird and the grouse. you better believe i'm on a mission now.

thanks again bob, just fantastic pictures. would love to see an eagle if you are every that fortunate to capture a pic.

be well,
maryanne

    Bookmark   October 22, 2006 at 11:38AM
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chescobob(z6b SEPA)

maryanne:

Thanks. Its amazing but I took both photos from my deck. Unfortunately, I haven't figured out how to aim the camera effectively yet. Both birds flew directly over me and were sailing. The back of my house and deck face a valley with a creek at the bottom about 100 feet or so below the house. The land on other side of the creek rises more slowly to about the same height of my house. The large raptors catch the breeze coming up the hills and they really seem to enjoy it.

The vultures are very simple to identify (if I can identify them, anyone can). As you can see, the turkey vulture appears to have a white bottom from tip to tip around the back of its wing. It is large--about 6' across. The black vulture has white only on the tips of its wings and is only about 5' across. Up close the turkey has a red head and the black has a grey head.

I've found that the turkey vultures will come down to check me out when I am outside working. They just fly above me about 30' up or so. They will also fly through the woods (when leaves are off the trees) cutting a trail in and out of the trees. I have no idea why they do this since it appears a bit dangerous for a 6' bird. Its almost as if the turkey vultures want to show off. The black vulutres do not do this. They seem more aloof.

The read tailed hawk was also enjoying a sail without flapping. That is why I think its tail was completely opened. It was just above me and I couldn't focus on it so I just clicked the camera and looked and there it was--just dumb luck. Last week, I heard what sounded like a death scream in the front yard. I looked up and it was 3 of these hawks making passes at each other.

The bald eagles are less common than the hawks here. However, they do land in the trees in back of my house. From the top of the trees, they can survey their kingdom. With some luck, I should get a chance at an image within 100 feet or so.

    Bookmark   October 22, 2006 at 12:45PM
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Pipersville_Carol(z6 Bucks PA)

Nice hawk shot! Good job with the focus.

My husband saw a hawk dive into our pond the other day. Apparently it was hovering overhead, then just zoomed right down into the water with a splash. Trying to catch a fish, I guess.

This morning there was a huge flock of buzzards slowly circling over my neighbor's house. A few of them wheeled slowly over my head as I watched. Must have been at least thirty birds.

    Bookmark   October 24, 2006 at 3:39PM
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