Friday, November 28, 2008

Holiday Treats

Happy Belated Thanksgiving! I hope that everybody's holiday was enjoyable (that includes the two or three people who actually read this blog).

Everything has been going well here. Last weekend was incredible - definitely one of the best backyard birding weekends I've ever experienced. It all began earlier in the week when my wife was able to establish visual contact (using a Mag-Lite and binoculars) with the Western Screech-Owl that often calls from our pine trees in the evenings. We tried two more times, but wasn't able to locate him/her. After this, we decided that we'd stop harassing the poor owl and just enjoy its calls instead. Last Saturday morning started off well enough with a flock of at least two dozen Pine Siskins at the feeders early on. A Ruby-crowned Kinglet, still not an every-day visitor here, appeared soon after, along with my semi-regular Brown Creeper and Song Sparrow. So far, a pretty good morning. Shortly thereafter, I noticed a medium-sized bird moving through the top of one of the pine trees. Closer inspection yielded a male Varied Thrush, the first of the Winter season! As exciting as this was, it paled in comparison to what I saw just a few minutes later. I began to hear unfamiliar "nasly" calls from the aforementioned pines and, a minute or so later, saw two flashes of red dart towards my living room window. These two landed up high in the tree near my chimney. After moving down into view, they revealed themselves as Red-breasted Sapsuckers! ONE visited briefly near Christmas last year, but only stayed for about 30 seconds... and didn't get anywhere near shooting range. However, I was able to get a close-up of one (above) and a halfway decent shot of the pair as they later returned to the pines to probe for sap (below).

And the "cherry on top" occurred the following afternoon when an adult Cooper's Hawk appeared in the neighbor's tree just beyond our backyard fence. This was a first for our yard. The hawk was undoubtedly attracted to the large flock of Siskins at the feeder on the back deck.

Red-breasted Sapsuckers sucking sap from our pine trees

Our friendly neighborhood Song Sparrow eating cracked corn off of our rain-soaked driveway

A female Northern Flicker poses before hopping onto the suet feeder

I hate to say it, but even the Starlings look really good right now

Well, 2 1/2 more days of the four-day weekend to go. Hopefully this weekend brings us a Townsend's Warbler or Purple Finch. I'll keep you posted...

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