Wednesday, September 19, 2007

Sunday's Double Feature

Part I-The Wangunk Meadows
It sure was a beautiful day Sunday! It was only about 50 degrees or so when I arrived at the Fairgrounds in Portland at about 6:30 am. I took a nice 5 mile round trip walk along side the Connecticut River in the Wangunk Meadow area. I check this area regularly to see what's coming and going.

The first thing that caught my attention was the sound of Indigo buntings.they were making their little "spik" sound. Someone told me it sounds like a wet chip note to them. I saw 8 Indigo buntings in a relatively small area. They were mostly females in non-breeding plumage.

I was listening to a Carolina Wren repeating its pit-a-tweet, pit-a-tweet, pit-a-tweet song (my version). Suddenly a Gray Catbird started making the classic catbird squawk right near the wren. The Carolina Wren continued with the same song pattern, but switched to a higher octave after the catbird started making noise. Was this just coincidence? I'll have to pay attention the next time I hear a wren change octaves. Have you noticed any interesting bird behavior recently?

One thing that I thought to be strange, was that I did not see a single Red-winged Blackbird.There is usually Red-winged Blackbirds here right in to the fall. Last year, there was huge flocks of them for most of October. I wonder if it has anything to do with the area being so dry this year, or if they've moved on already. Are you noticing any migration patterns or changes in your area?

Other birds of interest included: Bald Eagle, Red-tailed Hawks, Belted Kingfisher, 2 Sharp-shinned Hawks, 3 Rose-breasted Grosbeaks, Hairy Woodpecker, Red-eyed Vireo, and 4 Wood Ducks flying over. I also saw a female Purple Finch.The white eyebrow was visible, but it was a distant view.

Part II-Backyard Cousins
I spent a couple of hours in the afternoon just relaxing in my backyard. I haven't done that often enough this year. This little Black-capped Chickadee seems to be waiting for water droplets to land in his mouth. These birds are definitely one of my favorites. They're always buzzing around, and don't mind me getting close to them .They seem to scold me when I'm nearby, but they stand their ground.

Here are a couple of interesting facts about this bird:

  • Their song(chick-a-dee-dee) is one of the most complex vocalizations in the animal kingdom. It serves as a contact call, an alarm call, to identify an individual, or to indicate recognition of a particular flock.
  • They can remember where they hid their food for up to 28 days! I can't remember for that long (of course I wouldn't want it after 28 days).
  • They can drop their temperature by about 10-12 degrees Celsius at night to conserve energy.
  • They have a definite pecking order within a flock.

The Tufted Titmouse seems to be a little bit lest trusting than the chickadees. They are fun birds to have around as well though.They make a lot of interesting sounds. Many times, they fool me with their sounds, making me think they're another bird.

Here are a few facts about the Tufted Titmouse:

  • Most individuals spend their entire life within an area of just a couple of miles.
  • They only live in areas where they get at least 24" of rain annually.
  • They were regarded as messengers according to Cherokee legend. I could see that-they definitely are talkative birds.

I don't have anything to say about this Red-breasted Nuthatch, except that I'm glad that he's still hanging around my feeders. Who's been hanging around your feeders lately?- (besides your neighbors).


Mary said...

Larry, your description of the Chickadee-dee-dee warning call is right on! The Titmice might leave me...unless we get rain. They are too flighty for me but I like them.

I've noticed thatthe only fighting going on is with the starlings in the morning. Mockingbirds are finally calm, the cardinals are back to sweet chirping instead of those loud mating calls. I haven't seen any migration yet as we are still quite warm.

This is only the view from my back yard. I'll be getting out soon since the temps are getting more comfortable.

Gotta say, that first photo is absolutely beautiful!

Ruth said...

I like your pictures and descriptions. The only birds in my yard are gold finches, house finches and chickadees. I have never had a tufted titmouse at my feeder.

Larry said...

Mary-Those Mockingbirds can be quite feisty! glad you like the first photo.-I don't understand why the other photos won't enlarge.-If I can ever figure out how to incorporate flicker, I might just do it.

Ruth-No kidding? never a titmouse.It's interesting to see which birds people do or don't have at their feeders.

Anonymous said...

These photos are all wonderful and for sure you had a wonderful time! I love sitting in my back yard relaxing and watching the birds! But, too many times I somehow get distracted! Great post my friend!

RuthieJ said...

Hi Larry,
I love your misty morning photo...a sign of mornings to come, I'm sure.

I haven't seen red-winged blackbirds for quite a while either.

You're fortunate to have chickadees, titmice, and the RB nuthatch in your yard. Those little birds are so entertaining. I have quite a few cardinals (many juveniles) and a couple chickadees visiting regularly, in addition to the numerous and hungry goldfinches. said...

I love bird behavior studies, especially with a bird's memory! We have been seeing a bunch of Swainson's Thrushes migrating, but headline news! in a nearby city of Beloit Wisconsin (about 20 minutes from us) they have documented a Green-breasted Mango! Wowza! It has been hanging out there all summer and just recently was identified! We caught a glimpse of it, but some others have captured some great photos of the cool bird.
I wish we would have something like that in our yard!
Happy Birding!

Jayne said...

Right now I am getting Mourning Doves, House Finch, a few Carolina Chickadees, the Tufted Titmouse, and Downys. Occasionally, a cardinal family comes by, but that's about it for now.

Larry said...

Monarch-I understand what you mean by being distracted.That is one of the reasons that I don't spend that much time in th backyard.

ruthiej-I'll tell you-those Goldfinches sure know how to eat don't they.They stick to a feeder like flies to a flytrap.

birdfreak-I thought you might be putting me on for a minute about the Green-breasted Mango.-I just googled to get a look at this Hummingbird.-I never even heard of it before, but I sure would go to see it if it was in my state.

Jayne-I'm sure you'll give us anupdte if something new comes along!