Thursday, January 29, 2009

This Post is for the Birds

Mariel has been trying to attract birds to our front yard with bird seed for the last two and a half weeks, and I have been helping her. There are more birds in Texas in the fall and winter than at any other time of the year, but they didn't seem to want to come to our boring suburban-type yard. However, after much patience and a little discouragement, we finally had some takers in the bird seed department.

birdice

Ice covered the ground yesterday morning, and we realized that the birds would be looking for alternate sources of food since everything was frozen. We scattered seeds all over the front lawn and walkway. (Well, we actually had Triss scatter the seeds. Mariel and I were both indisposed-- er, I mean, in our jammies-- at the time the idea occurred, and we wanted to get the seed out there as quickly as possible.)

(Please note that the dates on the photos are incorrect. We need to reset the date stamp. All the date stamped photos were taken by Mariel. There are a couple at the end-- without date stamps-- that I took.)

birdsicetree

And they accepted our invitation. Yay!

They were mostly sparrows-- song sparrows, house sparrows and one rufous-crowned sparrow. There was a bright red cardinal for one brilliant moment-- but he was off before we could snap a picture. There aren't enough treed areas on our street, really.

This morning we had a mourning dove as well as our little sparrow visitors, and a sprightly little chap we had seen the day before but could not identify.

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He enjoyed going up and down the trunk of our elm tree,

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(some of these are blurry, but we haven't quite gotten the hang of taking photos through windows)

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and hopping from branch to branch.

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And he really liked our nest. We think he must be a willow warbler. Or a wren, maybe? I don't think a wren would enjoy our wide-open street, though. It almost looks like a nuthatch in some of the previous pictures, but the tail is a little long. What do you think?

UPdate: Here is a pic of the Carolina Wren. Look at the coloring and white eye stripe. I think this is our bird!

warbler4

Look at him poking around! He acts like a prospective homebuyer.

Warblers (and wrens) eat insects, mainly, but we saw this little guy get after a couple of black oil sunflower seeds on the grass this afternoon. Just once or twice. He was extremely interested in what the tree had to offer, but insects are rather hard to find in freezing weather.

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I'm not sure what to call this bird. When I took the photo, I was fully convinced it was the warbler (or wren). I had been following the warbler (or wren) with my camera all over the tree and snapped this picture. Doesn't this bird look different, though? That yellow on the throat is very pronounced, the shape of the head and tail are different, and even the coloring is different. The more I stare at this picture the more I wonder how I could ever have thought this bird was the little warbler/wren. I think this might be a female goldfinch. What do you think?

warbler3

We gave Mariel her own digital camera for Christmas this year. She and I must have presented a sight, each glued to one of the front windows, snapping away.

9 comments:

Barb-Harmony Art Mom said...

It looks really cold there! I bet the birds were very grateful for the seed scattering. :)

I am pretty sure the bird that was climbing up and down the trunk of the tree is a nuthatch...probably white breasted nuthatch.
http://www.birds.cornell.edu/AllAboutBirds/BirdGuide/White-breasted_Nuthatch.html

It is a little hard to tell from your photo but the behavior sounds like a nuthatch of some type.

Hope that helps.
Barb-Harmony Art Mom

Katie said...

Thanks for your help, Barb! I wonder what a female nuthatch looks like? The coloring of this bird was very muted.

We had around six goldfinches this morning and we got some good pictures.

Barb-Harmony Art Mom said...

How about a brown creeper?
http://www.birds.cornell.edu/AllAboutBirds/BirdGuide/Brown_Creeper.html

Barb

Katie said...

It was more solid on the back. It did have some speckling on the underside of the tail, though, which made me think 'wren'. However, I don't know that wrens act like that.

Does this look like the bird in the pic?

http://www.birdwatch.co.uk/website/content/view/322/29/

Barb-Harmony Art Mom said...

It is the white eye stripe that is getting me....not sure at all. I can't even find the bird you linked to in No Amer bird references.

Maybe someone else will help you out. :)

Barb-Harmony Art Mom

Katie said...

Thanks for puzzling over it with me, Barb! Javamom and another one of my birding friends are helping me too. Javamom said today she thinks it might be a nuthatch.

Katie said...

Barb, another friend said they had a winter wren that behaved just like our mystery bird. I googled "wren white eye stripe" and found a pic of the Carolina wren, which is common in Texas. I think this might be it!

http://www2.journalnow.com/content/2008/oct/14/wrens-have-beautiful-song-cover-wide-range/living-columnists-phil-ron/

Barb-Harmony Art Mom said...

Bingo! Love that feeling when you finally get an ID.

Congrats!
Barb-Harmony Art Mom

toodlebugz said...

Really nice photos of the nest too.You should check out the Burgess Bird Book for Children.It is a lovely book with wonderful stories about birds.Thanks for posting.