Tuesday, February 05, 2008

January Bird Count..."fowl" attitude...


A simple and common puddle of rain, not to be taken for granted - ever. Four days ago, rain settled in a soft hole where a Mandevilla lost its life last summer during the drought. Twenty more puddles like this one during the next few months might raise lake and river levels to free us of worry.

It’s been thrilling to see a life bird since I’ve been looking for them. It has never appealing to me to keep a “life bird” list. I don’t have one. I enjoy watching birds and photographing them on good days. Larry at The Brownstone Birding Blog invited everyone to participate in a January Bird Count. He sees more birds in one week than I see in a whole month! So I made the effort. Here’s a January 2008 list of birds I saw during my round-trip travels from home to work, grocery store, etc. Blue font were seen in my backyard.

Mourning Dove
Northern Cardinal
Carolina Chickadee
Tufted Titmouse
Carolina Wren
White Throated Sparrow
Song Sparrow
House Sparrow
American Goldfinch
House Finch
Brown Headed Nutcatch
White Breasted Nuthatch
Yellow Rumped Warbler
Downy Woodpecker
Red Bellied Woodpecker
Brown Headed Cowbird
Cooper’s Hawk
Black Vulture (overhead)
European Starling
Dark-eyed Junco
Pine Siskin
American Robin
Red-Winged Blackbird
Cedar Waxwing

Pine Warbler
Blue Jay
American Crow
Fish Crow
Eastern Bluebird
Red-Shouldered Hawk
Great Blue Heron
Ring-Billed Gull
Ring-Necked Duck
Northern Shoveler
Hooded Merganser
Canada Goose
Purple Gallinule (just kidding)
Belted Kingfisher
Not a list as impressive as others I’ve seen, but not a shabby one either, considering it’s from someone who doesn’t get out much.

My backyard feeding was glorious for a long time. Everyone knows it’s my decompression time after work – a time to smile and relax. I’ve been through Common Grackles, Starlings, and large flocks of Pigeons, but I’ve never housed House Sparrows until recently. I’m complaining. Yes, I know to love all creatures, great and small. Please hear me out.


It’s not their fault they are opportunists who thrive around people, compete for nests and attack other bird populations for their own right to life.


A few weeks ago I counted four. After whipping out my binoculars I saw six males yesterday. I did not care to zoom in on those unattractive dirty throats. Perhaps they are spreading the news to surrounding strip malls that Mary’s View has it all! “Fly with me and go first class, baby!”


I cater to the Carolina Wrens by serving them a small dish of their own worms and Zick dough every day, on my deck. My face flushed to hear the feet tapping of a male House Sparrow attempting to land on the dish, only four feet away from where I stood. It looked up to me, giving that one-eyed stare and cocked its head to see me clearly for a few seconds before it flew away. I was stunned at his bravery and nonchalant attitude. Then came the big blow - I quietly blew a fuse - at the sight of one pecking at the nesting material in the nest I made for Barn Swallows. The audacity of this newcomer is hard to swallow.


See him? On...my...pond.

Combine my disgust with these new intruders with the killer Mockingbird and the Starling poop similar to Rubber Cement I tracked onto the beige carpet in my family room yesterday, and it’s safe to say I’m not feeling joyful. I invite someone to help me relax and laugh about it.

On a lighter note, I purchased two pairs of dress pants for work last week. I rarely try clothes on for size under the dreaded lights in dressing rooms, especially if I’m feeling a bit pudgy after lunch in the food court. They hung in my closet for almost a week with the sales tags attached before I became brave and tried them on today…a size smaller than I usually wear...and they fit perfectly! Isn’t that something to Yeee Haaa about, ladies and gents?
Until my attitude changes and I help myself to stop snarling, I’ll be quiet here for a while. I’ll starting taking photos again and come back with a brighter outlook. I hope.


nina at Nature Remains. said...

Mary, that's a count to be proud of. (And pants, too!)
I'll give you a yeehaw.

But sorry to hear about the House sparrows--it must be that word has gotten out.
Mary's Place serves the best fixin's around. And, for a human, she builds a pretty mean nest!

kate said...

I think many of us are snarling at this time of year or else we're feeling apathetic and depressed. This is a good place to snarl. We all have these moments and we might as well share them than pretend we don't.

Besides those feisty house sparrows are an annoyance because they do chase away other birds. You have such a varied and interesting bird population visit and it would be good to keep it that way.

For a complete bird illiterate, I am always amazed at how you know all the names of birds. Maybe if I wore my glasses, I'd be able to identify more, though I doubt it.

Keep on blogging ... take heart!

Anonymous said...

Yee-haw! I had that kind of a closet moment a few months ago and I'm still gleeful about it!

Your bird list is awesome and I don't blame you for not being happy about HOSPs coming to visit.

I give thanks daily that they haven't found Boulder Creek!

Anonymous said...

So wonder you did this and you know two of those birdies would have been lifers for me! The Fish Crow and Brown Headed Nuthatch!

KGMom said...

Jeez--it sounds like bird watching is a source of tension as well as relaxation.
Let's see--how can you ignore the birds that bug you and watch only the ones that relax you?

Mary said...

Donna, it's hard right now until I get myself out of this funk. I'm trying.

Larry said...

Great job Mary! Thanks for participating. It was fun to read your list. No Brown-headed Nuthatch for me-that's for sure!-Be careful with the snarling though-don't want to scare the birdies away!

Mary C said...

That's a great list, Mary. And that was all seen in January? Wow! I'd say that's something to be proud of - especially since you mentioned that you "don't get around much." I love your yard list. That's about twice as many species as I normally get. Are you planning to do the Backyard Bird Count in a couple of weeks?

The Quacks of Life said...

can we have them back? We need them. As a kid I can remember my mum throwing scraps on to the lawn and the Spadgers descending on mass doesn't happen anymore.

it is odd how certain creatures adapt. I read how the House Finch was reintroduced on one side of the US and is almost meeting up with the population on the other side.

NatureWoman said...

Congratulations Mary!!! Woo Hoo!! I know it's not easy losing weight, good for you.
I wouldn't want to tell you what my bewd list for Jan would be. Three. Gulls, starlings and cardinals. I'm kidding of course, maybe it's four or five.

Jayne said...

That's quite the list there Mary! Things will get better as the weather changes. This time of year is so difficult for so many reasons, but YEAHOOO for you getting in those pants! ;c) Hang in there friend, and call anytime you'd like, ok?

Lisa at Greenbow said...

You have a great list Mary. I haven't seen Brown Headed Nuthatch very many times. I would love to see it more often. I think Nuthatches are such fun birds to watch. They are never still.

I too hate to have so many House Sparrows. We have 100+ around our house. I declared war on them this past summer. I didn't allow them to nest anyplace on our property that I could reach. I tore down nests as fast as they could build them.

While I think they are interesting to watch. Because they build interesting nests with their weaving ability as you mentioned they are death on the endemic birds. They chase away the wrens and will fight cavity dwellers, such as your swallows, for their boxes. UGH

I was hoping winter would take care of some of them without their old nests to get into for warmth but our winter has been so mild they are happy just sitting in the bushes waiting for time to build more nests. I will continue my attacks against their nesting places.

As to your bird list. I bet you would enjoy your list if you kept one. I am not a great list keeper but I can say it is fun to look back on a trip or outing to see what was seen where. If I see a new bird at a place we frequent it just lends more excitement to the experience.

Happy birding to you...

Kathie Brown said...

Mary, congrats on your list, especially since you didn't purposely go out and bird. I have never seen a brown nuthatch, though I saw my first pygmy one last summer on Mt. Lemmon here near Tucson. Pigeons destroyed my birdfeeding/watching right before I moved out of Maine. They found my feeders and they were relentless in their pursuit of food, fowling my yard with their droppings. My sons volunteered to take a gun to them, but I declined and sadly took down my feeders. So, when 2 rock pigeons stopped by Sycamore Canyon in December my heart filled with dread, but they didn't come back and I am so glad. Now, can you just let me in on you weightloss secret?

Kathie Brown said...

By the way, it's hard to imagine you are in a fowl mood when I see you capturing such beautiful photos. I especialy love the one at the top!

Anonymous said...

My tale of House Sparrows. Last year I had so many I could count over 20 just about anytime I put out seed. About November they just disappeared. Only 1 or 2 at a time and never a lot. I began to wonder what happened to them. Was it the construction across the street that took down the woods? Did the neighbors get tired of them and do something since about 40 seemed to be nesting under the eaves of the townhouse next door? Cats? Don't know. Something got em. Now I find myself wondering and wondering what did happen. A few years ago same thing with the house finches. Had a ton, then they disappeared and I had seen some with the eye disease so I assumed it swept the local population. Strange how you just keep wondering about what's really going on with them. As nature observers we keep on looking for whatever there is to see. Ya know?

TR Ryan said...

Congrats on the list and Yeehaw indeed for the comfortable snap of the button. I had 60+ sparrows for weeks in the late summer. I took in the feeders, cleaned up and stored the food for about three weeks and they have never come back in that force again. They seem to move thru and on each day unlike back then when they camped on every limb and nook and cranny.

Anonymous said...

Mary, your bird shots are astoundingly good. If I look at them enough maybe in about 10 years, I'll get the hang of which is which. You certainly brought a smile to my face this morning :-)

Susan Gets Native said...

I have been trying to devise a way we could ship all the starlings and HOSP back to Europe.

Mary said...

Nina, there is a lady down the street who treats the birds very well, also. I'll need to see her soon and inquire about the hosp.

Kate, thanks. I don't mind being snarly as long as I can snap out of it quickly. Yes, tis the season for needing attitudues adjusted.

Liza, thanks for the yee-haw. Likewise!

Tom, I'm dumbfounded. I have your possible lifers? Dang!

Larry, thanks for the urging to list! I sort of enjoyed it!

Mary C, no I don't get out a lot. Work gets in the way :o) I might participate in the bird count.

Pete, I had more House Finches last summer. Now the Cardinals are leading in numbers, along with Mourning Doves. I also wonder what causes numbers to rise and fall.

Pam - I haven't been watching my weight but I had a feeling I might be a little smaller, but not much.

Jayne, Thanks! This weekend I'll rummage through my closet and see what else I can fit into again :o)

Lisa, I appreciate your story. I'll keep close tabs on them and see where this goes. I certainly would not be happy with 100+!

Kathie, there is no weight loss secret - I'm shrinking from old age. I had pigeons throughout spring and summer (a flock of 20 or more). Suddenly, maybe in October/November, they disappeared. Don't know why. As far as my photos, I haven't been taking any. That's a result of my fowl mood :o)

Susie, it's good to hear from you again! I'd like to know why they left you, too. We have loads of construction and fields of trees have been plowed down, less than a mile from home. Destruction of this type is everywhere and I believe it upsets every living thing - even me.

T.R. I've been leaning towards doing the same thing...closing up shop sometime this spring (ah, what a heartbreaker). The birds won't starve and maybe the unwanted flock will find somewhere else to hang their hats.

Anne, I'm glad YOU are smiling! LOL!

Susan, I'm afraid it would take a task force the size of Europe to ship them out of here... But I know you would give it a good try :o)

Cheryl said...

Hi Mary
Chill out, you are so lucky to have those chirpy little chappies in your garden. They are going down in numbers dramatically here, so send them over to England. Great photography by the way, love it.
Well done with the dress pants.....now that should make you feel good.

JeanMac said...

A size smaller def. calls for an attitude adjustment! How did you do it? Chasing sparrows?

Owlman said...

At the VERY least this should get a chuckle from ya:

Q said...

Dear Mary,
Tufted Titmouse is so cute! Tufted could come inside and live at my house. I just adore him! Wonderful picture. They are so fast.
Nice bird list! I keep a monthly list and check off in my field guides when and where I see a bird. I just bought a very pretty Audubon Life-List Journal. I have been "birding" for over thirty years and am just now getting to the life list.
I understand about the House Sparrows. Mine feed with the Cardinals so they have protection from the humans. When I see them I just think,"Hawk food".
You are very sweet to have a special bowl of meal worms and dough for the Wrens. They will sing for you this Spring and Summer
and bring the little ones to meet and greet you!
Trimming down? How excellent. Great feeling. Wish I had it.
My favorite picture is the puddle. Seeing puddles at your house gives me hope!
Thanks for your wit and your hopeful post.

Mary said...

Cheryl, thanks for encouraging me to chill out. Isn't easy because I had hopes of Bluebirds!

Jean, chasing sparrows...Ha! Running around with Boston Terriers can do it. But like I commented before, I'm not trying to lose, I'm shrinking from old age. (not really)

Owlman, thanks for visiting me today and offering me an opportunity to laugh out loud.

Sherry, I think I will start a life list. It will be easy to catch up by looking through all of my field guides! I'd have a Tufted Titmouse live with me, too, but I'd need to wear earplugs all the time.

entoto said...

Oh Mary, you make me laugh! I am so sorry about your plague.

And you have an award waiting for you.

LauraHinNJ said...

Nice list, Mary!

And yeah, that closet moment - cool!

Robin's Nesting Place said...

Mary, it certainly does take the joy out of bird feeding when the starlings and sparrows take over. Hopefully they'll move on quickly.
Good for you fitting into those smaller pants!

Donna said...

Hi Mary,
I always enjoy seeing your photos.
Thanks for commenting on my blog ~ you asked what part of Carolina I live in...I live about 45 min east of Raleigh in Wilson. It's actually considered the sand hills. Our back yard is very protected by a high hedge all around, maybe that's why more things are blooming here.
BTW, I have tons of house sparrows too. Oh well...

Dorothy said...

I am so impressed by your list Mary. And way to go on the Yeehaw moment! Congratulations!!!

Aunt "B's" Backyard said...

You are really so funny!! That is one blog I actually sat and laughed at, in a nice way. Interesting combination in the dish. Really cute stories!

Kerri Farley said...

Ah Mary...I have to play catch up...I apologize for not visiting lately....I was "down in the dumps" the first week of Feb....and now "down with a cold" but hopefully on the mend.

Your bird count is absolutely Awesome! Wow!