Thursday, July 3, 2014

Lazy birdwatching, Adirondack chair style

     In my last post, you read about my aspen grove and my Adirondack chairs. To remind you of the scene, hear is one of those photos reproduced.

      This year while working on my fairy garden, every now and then I decided I wanted a rest. I would be sitting in the Adirondack and I would hear a bird. As the spring progressed, I heard and saw more and more birds as the warblers came through. I learned that when I went out there to garden, I should take along my binoculars and my bird book. What a wonderful way to birdwatch. A very lazy way but a very comfortable way. If you know a little about birdwatching, you may know that warblers are colorful little birds that are in constant motion through the trees, catching insects. So if I see a fluttering of movement through the trees, especially before they have leafed out it is almost certainly a warbler. The only exception to that rule is so-called pseudowarblers. Those are the chickadees because they do a lot of quick fluttering from branch to branch as well. But they almost always sing, chickadee dee dee while they flutter. This year I identified the following warblers come through while just sitting with my head back in my Adirondack looking through my binoculars. Sometimes they came so close with my phishing, that I didn't even need my binoculars.

     Black and white warbler, black throated blue warbler, magnolia warbler, yellow rumped or "myrtle" warbler (very common), Canada warbler, chestnut sided warbler, pine warbler, yellow warbler, palm warbler, Tennessee warbler, Nashville warbler, common yellowthroat and the ovenbird. Other years when I have walked around my property birdwatching, not just sat in one place, I have also seen the blackburnian warbler, and the bay breasted warbler. And on local bird watching walks, I have seen a Wilson's warbler.

The following is a very long URLed blog which is however a wonderful site with many photos of some of the birds I have mentioned and will mention in this post. I am not the bird photographer. Most of the previous photographs that I have posted at various times were my husbands photographs. He has not photographed our local birds with the exception of the eagles and the turkeys. Check out this blog for many very nice images and for pages that can be used as a field guide for the warblers.,d.aWw&psig=AFQjCNHDH0IUs8X9ZaCQeDNrbWOefadOpQ&ust=1404499757990229

     I also keep track of the birds that nest on my property or on properties immediately adjacent to us. Commonly we have cardinals, robins, wrens in many of my wren houses, catbirds, mourning doves, blue jays, crows, white breasted nuthatches, ruby throated hummingbirds, red winged blackbirds, chickadees, chipping sparrows and song sparrows. We have goldfinches regularly visit our feeders in small flocks, and we see cedar waxwing flocks, but I don't think they nest on our property or adjacently. We have cowbirds at our feeders and I know the female has probably parasitized some other bird's nest here. Usually in this location it is the chipping sparrow that is affected. Down on the Lake Michigan bluff and down on the beach, we have had cliff swallows, great blue herons, mallards, song  and chipping sparrows, as well as common coots nest. Of course, I always have at least one house with tree swallows. They only nest once a summer and they took the bluebird house in the back near the Lake. This year a pair of bluebirds chose a house that our neighbors recently put up. My concern was that it was just nailed to a tree trunk without any kind of predator guard. But I believe they were successful and fledged their young already. A pair has now been considering some of my bluebird houses in front of the house. I don't know if this is the same pair now attempting their second nesting or not. They built a beautiful deep nest in one of the bluebird houses and I was indeed sitting in my adirondack chair watching them. I love to listen to their soft bubbly song that somehow manages to carry long distances. But a wren stuck some sticks in that house on top of the grass bluebird nest and the pair disappeared. Now about 10 days later they are back again and are trying to nest in another nest box which I had cleaned out recently where a wren has already completed a nesting cycle. I hope the male wren now leaves that bluebird nest alone.

     Early in the season, I found a dead chickadee in one of the bluebird boxes. Though a wren could have been the culprit, I blamed the house sparrows. I have accumulated quite a few of them. So early this spring as they were beginning their nests, I began a trapping chore. I managed to catch two males and destroy them. I still have one pair around and they were nesting in my purple martin house. In all the years that we have had that house up, I have not been able to attract purple martins, even with decoy bird figures, and playing their morning song daily. So I decided to let that pair work on their nest and even begin to raise their young. It would keep them busy and out of my other boxes. But then prior to when I thought the young might be ready to fledge, I lowered the purple martin houses and emptied all of them. I will not let house sparrows fledge on my property.

     Over the years we have had red headed woodpeckers nest near our property and the adults brought the young to our feeders. This year two red bellied woodpeckers have been regular visitors to our feeders and I believe they are nesting nearby. I occasionally hear them calling. We have some dead branches on a couple of our tall cottonwood trees and I think they might be up in a hole in one of those snags.

     House finches regularly nest in a light fixture on our back stoop. This year they started that nest very very early and had fledged their young by early May. I didn't have the heart to remove them. But now that they have fledged, I plan to nail that fixture cover back in place. It is kind of messy to have them over our heads as we leave the house through the back door.

     We regularly see Coopers hawks and I have heard commotions in the vicinity of a robins nest along our driveway. I don't think they are nesting on or adjacent to our property but certainly they are in the vicinity. Also we have a pair of red tailed hawks who on East wind days hang in the air over the bluff looking down while in one place in the wind, hunting for rodents on the bluff.  I always investigate when I hear the crows and even other birds making a fuss. Often it is a red tailed hawk perched in a tree. Some years ago such a commotion called my attention to a snowy owl perched on our neighbors patio. One day a couple of weeks ago their was such a hubbub
  of other birds going out back in a cottonwood tree near the corner of our house. I went out to search with my binoculars, and low and behold, there was a peregrine falcon sitting in the tree. Blackbirds and crows were giving it a hard time. I have never seen a peregrine in this area. It sat for some time in our tree just looking around. I went to the Internet and learned that there is a box nest site at UWM which is directly down the lake front from us, though it is about 7 miles away. I read that peregrines do range as far as 12 miles when they are feeding young. The peregrine pair at UWM is monitored and sometimes seen on camera. I would bet that the one in my cottonwood was the female from there, as it was quite a large bird. Female falcons are usually a third bigger than the males. Anyway, that was an exciting bird day at our home. 

       Of course, our bald eagles are still nesting (for the 5th or 6th year) about 7 lots south of us in what is now a Ozaukee-Washington County Conservancy. We see the parents periodically flying along the bluff. Over the years we have seen the young fledgelings taking one of their early flights. It is quite amusing. One year we saw a young one fly over the neighbor's back yard, put down his/her landing gear (legs) to try to land in one of our trees. But then it decided that it wasn't going to make that landing and it put its legs back up. After a couple circles it finally landed on our rail fence. I could envision this young birds thought processes as it lowered and raised its legs until finally it picked a spot it decided it could make. Apparently flight is not such a easy thing for a bird the size of a bald eagle.

     I just checked out the Decorah Eagles. This year's eaglets have fledged of course. They actually fledged already a couple weeks ago. They have had some difficulties this year. It is thought that the bad weather and the rains have been hard on the family. One eaglet was downed with a broken wing and apparently some sort of infection of its tail. Another was found down and captured and examined. It appeared too weak to fly but ate quail at a rehab site where it was taken and soon became strong enough to fly and was fitted with a radio band locator. The experts who monitor the Decorah nest think it has been difficult for Mom and Dad eagle to find food and to find the eaglets in order to feed them due to the weather and flooding. Also gnats were very bad in the area and some consider that perhaps this has led to slightly early fledging of weaker eaglets. Anyway it has been a tough year for us humans and also for the eagles.

No comments:

Post a Comment