Tag Archive: backyard


Carolina Wren

This was a very interesting catch for me…. i was actually zoomed WAY in on my platform feeder, on a sparrow. and from the corner of my eye i saw another psarrow land. so i panned over. and got this guy instead. i didnt actually see him with my eye the first time. i was absolutely thrilled, what a treat.

So i took the couple shots that i could get, and he was gone. but then he came back, and as you will notice, in the final picture, there was actually two of them. one os perched on the AC unit, and the other is in the lower right hand corner. i was beside myself watching them flit about.DSCN2954

My first impromptu closeup. i was way unprepared!

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him flitting about on the ground.

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the two of them. one in the upper left one in the lower right. how exciting. 🙂

Info from WIKI and whatbird.com

  • Size & Shape

    The Carolina Wren is a small but chunky bird with a round body and a long tail that it often cocks upward. The head is large with very little neck, and the distinctive bill marks it as a wren: long, slender, and downcurved.

  • Color Pattern

    Both males and females are a bright, unpatterned reddish-brown above and warm buffy-orange below, with a long white eyebrow stripe, dark bill, and white chin and throat.

  • Behavior

    The Carolina Wren creeps around vegetated areas and scoots up and down tree trunks in search of insects and fruit. It explores yards, garages, and woodpiles, sometimes nesting there. This wren often cocks its tail upward while foraging and holds it down when singing. Carolina Wrens defend their territories with constant singing; they aggressively scold and chase off intruders.

  • Habitat

    Look—or listen—for Carolina Wrens singing or calling from dense vegetation in wooded areas, especially in forest ravines and neighborhoods. These birds love to move low through tangled understory; they frequent backyard brush piles and areas choked with vines and bushes.

Range Map Help

Carolina Wren Range Map

Typically 12.5 to 14 cm (4.9 to 5.5 in) with a 29 cm (11 in) wingspan and a weight of about 18 to 23 g (0.63 to 0.81 oz), it is a fairly large wren; among the United States species it is second largest after the Cactus Wren. Among standard measurements, the wing chord is 5.4 to 6.4 cm (2.1 to 2.5 in), the tail is 4.5 to 5.6 cm (1.8 to 2.2 in), the culmen is 1.4 to 1.8 cm (0.55 to 0.71 in) and the tarsus is 2 to 2.3 cm (0.79 to 0.91 in).[4] The upperparts are rufous brown, and the underparts a strong orange-buff, usually unmarked but faintly barred on the flanks in the southwest of the range. The head has a striking pure white supercilium (eyebrow) and a whitish throat. The race albinucha is duller brown above and has additional white streaking on the head.

It is easiest to confuse with the Bewick’s Wren, a fairly close relative,[5] which differs in being smaller but with a longer tail, grayer-brown above and whiter below. The Carolina and White-browed Wrens differ from the House Wren in being larger, with a decidedly longer bill and hind toe; their culmen has a notch behind the tip.[6]

Song and calls

The Carolina Wren is noted for its loud song, popularly rendered as “teakettle-teakettle-teakettle”. This song is rather atypical among wrens and closely resembles that of the Kentucky Warbler which shares much of its range. A given bird will typically sing several different songs. Only the male birds sing their loud song.[7] The songs vary regionally, with birds in northern areas singing more slowly than those in southern areas.

The Carolina Wren also has a series of calls, including a rapid series of descending notes in a similar timbre to its song, functioning as an alarm call, and a very harsh and loud scolding call made to threaten intruders.

Ecology

The Carolina Wren is sensitive to cold weather. Since they do not migrate and stay in one territory the northern populations of Carolina wrens decrease markedly after severe winters. Because of this sensitivity to weather, gradually increasing temperatures over the last century may have been responsible for the northward range expansion seen in the mid-1900s.[7]

Populations in Canada and the northern half of the US experience regular crashes following severe winters, but their high breeding productivity soon results in a return to higher numbers. These birds are generally permanent residents throughout their range and defend territory year round; some birds may wander north after the breeding season.

They eat insects, found in leaf litter or on tree trunks; they may also eat small lizards or tree frogs. In winter, they occasionally eat seeds, berries, and other small fruits.

Reproduction

These birds prefer sites with dense undergrowth, either in mixed forests or in wooded suburban settings, in a natural or artificial cavity. The nest is a bulky, often domed structure, with a small hole towards the top. Nests of the more domestically-inclined wrens have been reported in a great variety of nooks and crannies in, about, or under buildings of various kinds, under bridges, or in holes in any structure such as a porch, fence-post, flowerpot, tree, house or barn. Almost any kind of receptacle may offer an acceptable nesting site. Pairs may mate for life.

Females typically lay between four to six eggs (normally over a period of several days) up to three times per year (but normally only twice). Eggs are oval, grayish-white and sprinkled with reddish-brown spots. Incubation is performed by the female only and lasts anywhere from 12–14 days, with the first young leaving the nest 12–14 days after hatching. Chicks hatch bald and blind, and depend upon parents until fledging. Both the male and female feed the young. They only brood for a short period of time after hatching, leaving the young in a warm, down-lined nest while adults search for food. If conditions are right, the same nest may be used more than once.

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I took this one day from my kitchen. I know every single lump on this tree outside, and i thin k thats the only reason i saw the little bugger. all i saw was his beak popping up, and i thought one of the tree lumps had sprouted a branch of about an inch. but it wasnt… it was this little dudes beak… oh how i scrambled for my camera. he wast here but a moment. but i was grateful to the max for the ten or fifteen seconds we had together. lol.. there is nothing like the feeling when you know for sure you have a new bird…. ❤
Info from WIKI and allaboutbirds.com

Description

Adults are brown on the upperparts with light spotting, resembling a piece of tree bark, with white underparts. They have a long thin bill with a slight downward curve and a long stiff tail used for support as the bird creeps upwards. The male creeper has a slightly larger bill than the female. The Brown creeper is 11.7–13.5 cm (4.6–5.3 in) long.

It’s voice includes single very high pitched, short, often insistent, piercing calls; see, or swee. The song often has a cadence like; pee pee willow wee or see tidle swee, with notes similar to the calls.

Distribution and habitat

Their breeding habitat is mature forests, especially conifers, in Canada, Alaska and the northeastern and western United States. They are permanent residents through much of their range; many northern birds migrate farther south to the United States.

Conservation status

As with many of Washington’s birds, the Cascades divided this species into two subspecies. The species has declined in much of North America but appears to be doing well in Washington, with a small (not significant) increase on the state’s breeding bird survey since 1966.

Behaviour

They forage on tree trunks and branches, typically spiraling upwards from the bottom of a tree trunk, and then flying down to the bottom of another tree. They creep slowly with their body flattened against the bark, probing with their beak for insects. They will rarely feed on the ground. They mainly eat small arthropods found in the bark, but sometimes they will eat seeds in winter.

Breeding

Breeding season typically begins in April. The female will make a partial cup nest either under a piece of bark partially detached from the tree, or in a tree cavity. It will lay 3–7 eggs, and incubation lasts approximately two weeks. Both of the parents help feed the chicks.

As a migratory species with a northern range, this species is a conceivable vagrant to western Europe. However, it is intermediate in its characteristics between Common Treecreeper and Short-toed Treecreeper, and has sometimes in the past been considered a subspecies of the former, although its closest relative seems to be the latter (Tietze et al., 2006).

Brown Creepers prefer mature, moist, coniferous forests or mixed coniferous/deciduous forests. They are found in drier forests as well, including Engelman Spruce and larch forest in eastern Washington. They generally avoid the rainforest of the outer coast. While they generally nest in hardwoods, conifers are preferred for foraging.

Since the two European treecreepers are themselves among the most difficult species on that continent to distinguish from each other, a Brown Creeper would probably not even be suspected, other than on a treeless western island, and would be difficult to verify even then.

Brown Creeper has occurred as a vagrant to Bermuda and Central America’s mountains in Guatemala, Honduras and the northern cordillera of El Salvador.

  • Size & Shape

    Brown Creepers are tiny yet lanky songbirds. They have long, spine-tipped tails, slim bodies, and slender, decurved bills.

  • Color Pattern

    Streaked brown and buff above, with their white underparts usually hidden against a tree trunk, Brown Creepers blend easily into bark. Their brownish heads show a broad, buffy stripe over the eye (supercilium).

  • Behavior

    Brown Creepers search for small insects and spiders by hitching upward in a spiral around tree trunks and limbs. They move with short, jerky motions using their stiff tails for support. To move to a new tree, they fly weakly to its base and resume climbing up. Brown Creepers sing a high, warbling song; they also give a high, wavering call note that sounds similar to that of a Golden-crowned Kinglet.

  • Habitat

    Brown Creepers breed primarily in mature evergreen or mixed evergreen-deciduous forests. You can find them at many elevations, even as high as 11,000 feet at treeline in the West. In the winter season, the species moves into a broader variety of forests and becomes much easier to find in deciduous woodlands.

Range Map Help

Brown Creeper Range Map

Red Bellied Woodpecker

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My my… What an exciting day it was when i saw one of these land in the yard, and it wasnt forty feet away in a shadow, in a tree, or, we werent doing that thing where he hops to the side of the tree facing away from me, and i scoot around to meet him, and he then continues back to the side i started on? Oh yeah… lots of that went on. lol But so worth it.

And actually, only the crappy, bottom picture is from my yard… the rest were forty feet up in a tree. i saw the guy making the hole, first, and then another male came down, and the sparring began. what a great day that was. same day i got the great horned owl, the yellow tail warbler (<– currently unposted, as i am posting my catalogue in alphabetical order, and still catching up) but anyway… i also got my first male goldfinch in breeding plumage. What a day. ❤ Love these guys. Honeored to have one visiting my yard….

In fact… im going to expand a bit into a personal experience i had with this woodpecker, in my yard, just the day before yesterday. Now, i generally do most of the watching i do of my yard, through this one window in my kitchen. If we go to the park, i obviously take a stroll. and i have also been known to stroll our development from time to time, Nikon in hand.

I had seen these birds, up in trees, exclusively, until like two weeks ago. now mind you, i only started taking an interest in ornithology last summer. AND i had a great time of it. though i didnt continue into winter, as i intend to this year… but anyway… all of a sudden, i reworked my entire bird area, onto the other, lusher, more tree-containing side of the house. MAN what started coming down…. lordy… but anyway…

One of these woodpeckers came down from on high and graced my little tiny butterfly tree, and its teeny suet block, with its presence. And i was amazed. Its so busy here. But he comes down, about once a day or so now, and eats up whatever is left of my morning suet smear, after the starlings and grackles and squirrels have a taste.

I love the pair of downy woodpeckers that come down as well, but, this red belly is just so, awesome, in its coloring, and feathers, i mean, look at that guys tail, in the last picture i posted above…. and the way their back has that barring on it… so pretty.

Anyway, i love this frigging woodpecker, and he is not afraid of a damn thing. So, i randomly, decided to go have a sit in one of our yard chairs, no camera, just to be out there, and whoever happened to land could get three seconds more used to my presence….or whatever, maybe its pipe dreams, but those cowbirds get bolder by the DAY. but i digress.

So there i am, sitting in the chair, still as a stone, the occasional e-cig vapor appearing as if by magic. And then, i saw something neat land in our tree, and after a minute or two of total stillness, like a statue i was… he hopped down a branch or twig or two, and fluttered right down to the butterfly bush, and got into the suet. and i was like, six feet away. i never had my nose itch so bad in my life, swear to god. but i did not scratch that shit. and we locked eyes a few times, just, peeping one another out. it was sublime.

Birding is the shit. And red bellied woodpeckers rule.

here is my usual copy past of the basic facts from most likely, allaboutbirds.com. and then a video from youtube of its calling :

“Red-bellied Woodpeckers are pale, medium-sized woodpeckers common in forests of the East. Their strikingly barred backs and gleaming red caps make them an unforgettable sight – just resist the temptation to call them Red-headed Woodpeckers, a somewhat rarer species that’s mostly black on the back with big white wing patches. Learn the Red-bellied’s rolling call and you’ll notice these birds everywhere.

Both Sexes
Length
9.4 in
24 cm
Wingspan
13–16.5 in
33–42 cm
Weight
2–3.2 oz
56–91 g
Relative Size
Same size as Hairy Woodpecker; three-quarters the size of a Northern Flicker
Other Names
  • Pic à ventre roux (French)

Cool Facts

  • You may sometimes see Red-bellied Woodpeckers wedge large nuts into bark crevices, then whack them into manageable pieces using their beaks. They also use cracks in trees and fence posts to store food for later in the year, a habit it shares with other woodpeckers in its genus.
  • For birds that nest in cavities, nest holes are precious turf. Red-bellied Woodpeckers have been known to take over the nests of other birds, including the much smaller (and endangered) Red-cockaded Woodpecker. But more often they’re victims to the aggressive European Starling. As many as half of all Red-bellied Woodpecker nests in some areas get invaded by starlings.
  • You may occasionally see a Red-bellied Woodpecker flying quickly and erratically through the forest, abruptly changing direction, alighting for an instant and immediately taking off again, keeping up a quick chatter of calls. Scientists categorize this odd behavior as a type of play that probably helps young birds practice the evasive action they may one day need.
  • A Red-bellied Woodpecker can stick out its tongue nearly 2 inches past the end of its beak. The tip is barbed and the bird’s spit is sticky, making it easier to snatch prey from deep crevices. Males have longer, wider-tipped tongues than females, possibly allowing a breeding pair to forage in slightly different places on their territory and maximize their use of available food.
  • The oldest known Red-bellied Woodpecker was 12 years 1 month old.

Habitat


Forest

You can find this species across most of the forests, woodlands, and wooded suburbs of the eastern United States, including oak-hickory forest, pine-hardwood forest, maple and tulip-poplar stands, and pine flatwoods. It’s a bit more common in river bottoms and wetlands, in the south of its range, and at elevations below about 2,000 feet.

Food


Insects

Though this bird mainly eats insects, spiders, and other arthropods, it eats plenty of plant material, too. In particular, acorns, nuts, and pine cones, as well as seeds extracted from annual and perennial plants and (particularly in fall and winter) fruits ranging from grapes and hackberries to oranges and mangoes. Occasionally eats lizards, nestling birds, even minnows.

Nesting

Nesting Facts
Clutch Size
2–6 eggs
Number of Broods
1-3 broods
Egg Length
0.9–1.1 in
2.2–2.9 cm
Egg Width
0.7–0.9 in
1.7–2.2 cm
Incubation Period
12 days
Nestling Period
24–27 days
Egg Description
Smooth white.
Condition at Hatching
Naked and helpless, eyes closed.
Nest Description

Red-bellied Woodpeckers lay their eggs on the bed of wood chips left over after excavating their nest cavity. Nest holes are 22 to 32 centimeters deep, with a cylindrical living space of roughly 9 by 13 centimeters.

Nest Placement

Cavity

Nests in dead trees (hardwoods or pines), dead limbs of live trees, and fence posts. The same pair may nest in the same tree year after year, but typically excavate a new cavity each year, often placing the new one beneath the previous year’s.

Behavior


Bark Forager

These birds often stick to main branches and trunks of trees, where they hitch in classic woodpecker fashion, leaning away from the trunk and onto their stiff tail feathers as they search for food hiding in bark crevices. When nesting, males choose the site and begin to excavate, then try to attract a female by calling and tapping softly on the wood around or in the cavity. When a female accepts, she taps along with the male, then helps put the finishing touches on the nest cavity. At feeders, Red-bellied Woodpeckers will push aside most bird species other than Blue Jays.

Conservation

status via IUCN

Least Concern

The Red-bellied Woodpecker has extended its breeding range north over the last 100 years. Populations are increasing throughout most of the range.

Voice:

 

 

Gigantic shout out to Cornell University and their ornithology program. I dont know if any of you will ever come through this lowly little peon blog, but if you do, all the bird facts i ever circulate, come directly from your websites. I look forward to Merlin, i think it is called, that you guys are working on. i try and play the ‘games’ when i can, to help it learn. ❤ Go team Sapsucker! Congrats on that Big Day!

 

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Oh, how exciting these little guys are. Brilliant eyed, Wonderously marked of wing, mimicing, singing, dancing marvels. My favorite part about them is how they dance in the grass, to scare up bugs, so they can catch them. how clever… you can see my best attempt at photographing this action in the second picture down from the top. beautiful birds.

  • Size & Shape

    A medium-sized songbird, a bit more slender than a thrush and with a longer tail. Mockingbirds have small heads, a long, thin bill with a hint of a downward curve, and long legs. Their wings are short, rounded, and broad, making the tail seem particularly long in flight.

  • Color Pattern

    Mockingbirds are overall gray-brown, paler on the breast and belly, with two white wingbars on each wing. A white patch in each wing is often visible on perched birds, and in flight these become large white flashes. The white outer tail feathers are also flashy in flight.

  • Behavior

    The Northern Mockingbird enjoys making its presence known. It usually sits conspicuously on high vegetation, fences, eaves, or telephone wires, or runs and hops along the ground. Found alone or in pairs throughout the year, mockingbirds aggressively chase off intruders on their territory.

  • Habitat

    Look for Northern Mockingbirds in towns, suburbs, backyards, parks, forest edges, and open land at low elevations.

  • Voice:

Dance:

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These guys! Aye yiyi! So far the only thing i can actively discern to differentiate between a HOUSE finch, and a PURPLE finch, is that the HOUSE finch, has a red ASS. I have four males, and two or three females that visit me daily.

  • Size & Shape

    House Finches are small-bodied finches with fairly large beaks and somewhat long, flat heads. The wings are short, making the tail seem long by comparison. Many finches have distinctly notched tails, but the House Finch has a relatively shallow notch in its tail.

  • Color Pattern

    Adult males are rosy red around the face and upper breast, with streaky brown back, belly and tail. In flight, the red rump is conspicuous. Adult females aren’t red; they are plain grayish-brown with thick, blurry streaks and an indistinctly marked face.

  • Behavior

    House Finches are gregarious birds that collect at feeders or perch high in nearby trees. When they’re not at feeders, they feed on the ground, on weed stalks, or in trees. They move fairly slowly and sit still as they shell seeds by crushing them with rapid bites. Flight is bouncy, like many finches.

  • Habitat

    House Finches frequent city parks, backyards, urban centers, farms, and forest edges across the continent. In the western U.S., you’ll also find House Finches in their native habitats of deserts, grassland, chaparral, and open woods.

  • Voice: