Wednesday, December 5, 2007

Fox Sparrow In The Back Yard Brushpile And My First Red Crossbill!

Brush Pile Fox Sparrow-I've slowly been constructing a brushpile in my backyard. Every time I take a visit to the town dump, I grab a few select branches to add to the pile. The workers at the dump have a quizzical look on their faces when they see me putting brush back into my truck. Some birds find brush piles very appealing including this Fox Sparrow that showed up on Sunday morning. That was a nice surprise! They are very robust looking sparrows. I like to watch them do the jump back and scratch dance when they're trying to rustle up some food. We get the red version of the Fox Sparrow in the east. Here's a link for making a good brushpile.

I took a ride down to East Shore Park (New Haven) Sunday morning hoping to find a Red Crossbill. I didn't have to look very long. As soon as I entered the park, there were three birders standing near a coniferous tree. Two of the birders had binoculars focused on the tree top and the other was holding up a parabolic microphone attached to a stand. They had located the recently reported Red Crossbills. I was able to get an excellent view of the male which was at the very top of a fairly short tree. It was great! I could see the crossed bill so clearly and the bird had a nice bold red coloring. I was so absorbed in viewing it through the binoculars that I lost the opportunity to get a photo. A female was present, as well, but I did not get a very good view of it. I had a quick word with EJ, Nick, and Luke. They had recorded the bird's song in order to be able to determine the origin of its location before they were off to check on more rarities.
Red-breasted Nuthatches, Yellow-bellied Sapsuckers, White-throated Sparrows, and Brown Creepers were very active at this location. I was able to get the photo of the Brown Creeper just before it started snowing but the lighting was very poor. The most important thing is that I was finally able to see a Red Crossbill. That was a lifer for me. It also broke a dry spell of not finding any of the irruptive species that everyone has been talking about. Whenever on a fishing trip it's pretty well agreed amongst the fishermen that you have to catch that first fish before you start to have some success. Now that I've seen the crossbill, I'll feel more confident in finding redpolls, Pine Grosbeaks, Evening Grosbeaks, Bohemian Waxwings, and Boreal Chickadees. I probably won't find all of them, but if I can find two or three of them before winter is over, I'll be happy.


MojoMan said...

I have a big brush pile in my backyard. I don't have to go looking for branches to put on it; I've been collecting them from my yard for about 20 years. I call it 'composting' but maybe I'm just too lazy to dispose of them 'properly.' I see birds ducking into it all the time. You inspire me to pay closer attention. Maybe I'll see something new.

Ruth said...

I have found a couple of types of wrens in brush piles and know the sparrows are hiding in there too. Nice picture of the Brown Creeper. They are hard to pin down for a photo op! There seem to be a lot of less common bird species around this winter on our area.

Anonymous said...

Congrats on the lifer!! (One I have yet to see)

I love it when a bird is so cool that the thought of a photo slips away... I've had that happen a lot :)

And the brush pile is truly every birder should have... and any time you can get people who work at a dump to look at you funny, you've done great!!

Mary said...

It's great to see a lifer!

Thanks for the link on binoculars. I was leaning towards the Eagle Optics Ranger, now I am sure I'm making the right decision!

mon@rch said...

Congrats on your Crossbill and what a great bird it is! Also love your fox sparrow and creeper pictures!

Larry said...

mojoman-Try throwing a little bird seed around it, grab your binoculars, and pull up a chair to watch!

ruth-yeah-brush piles are great for that.-Autofocus on my camera can't distinguish between the creepers and bark.-Manual focus on my camera is just not practical for birds.-too slow of a process.

birdfreak-thanks-Yes-I'm sure my gathering of branches and taking photos looks odd to the workers at the transfer station (dump).

Mary-I didn't even realize that I gave you a binocular link but you're welcome anyway. A lifer is great but really seeing the Red Crossbill is what made it great.


Anonymous said...

The first Fox Sparrow I can remember seeing was in a brush pile. Congrats on the Crossbill. Send em down this way please.

Larry said...

Pa-birder-thanks.-I have sent a Red Crossbill your way. It will be arrivng soon but I can't tell you specifically where in pennsylvania it will end up.

RuthieJ said...

I've only seen a red crossbill once in my life, but knew right away what it was by the bill. Good for you Larry! I like that Brown Creeper pic--haven't seen one of those little guys for a couple years, but I keep watching.

I think I'm going to start another brushpile under one of the bird feeders closer to my house....even if I don't get a fox sparrow, I think the juncos will really like it.

Mary C said...

That is cool, Larry. A fox sparrow, a red crossbill, and a brown creeper would all be lifers for me. And I can also add the others you mentioned: red-breasted nuthatches, yellow-bellied sapsuckers, and white-throated sparrows. Well, I have a lot to look forward to finding someday! ;o)

dguzman said...

Congrats on your lifer, especially your first irruptive species lifer -- I'm still looking for my first one. This is quite a year, and I'm hoping the weather clears a little (snowing now) so I can get out this weekend.

Sparrows are loving my brushpile, which is leftover from last year. I need to make it bigger and higher, though -- I got some really nice fallen limbs and saplings expressly for this purpose, but I'm low on "filler."

Thanks for that brushpile link--I'll check it out.

Jayne said...

Love that Fox Sparrow. The markings are so distinctive. Congrats on the Crossbill!

Jochen said...

It's pretty fabulous that your crossbills were also recorded, so in case of a future split you'll know which one you saw.
And a Fox Sparrow, well, who needs irruptive finches when they have Fox Sparrows visiting their garden?
Quite possibly one of the coolest bird in North America, well, in my opinion.
Thanks for the pic and the nice memories you conjured of last year's winter in SE Michigan.
Happy birding trails and good luck with the winter birds!

The Zen Birdfeeder said...

Congrats on your crossbill. I had a creeper all last winter but am missing its presence this year.