Archive for May, 2015

Evening Grosbeak male 5/23/15


I hear these beauties everywhere on the mountain slopes but don’t often see them since they’ve paired up for the breeding season, and no longer roam around in winter flocks. Grosbeak isn’t a natural group of closely related birds, but a loose collection of big-beaked songbirds from the finch, tanager, weaver, and cardinal groups. The Evening Grosbeak male above is actually a Cardueline finch.


Ovenbird 5/17/15


Ovenbirds act much like the spotted thrushes that also live and and forage on this forest floor, but this bird is smaller and belongs to the warblers. I didn’t hear this one singing Teacher! Teacher! Teacher! at the top of its little lungs but it may just have been the wrong time of day, or is too early in the season (I only saw one where often I find dozens in this stretch of woods and expect this one has just arrived) or is a female.


Bald Eagle 5/11/15


For such a huge and majestic bird, their screechy piping doesn’t quite fit.


White-throated Sparrow 5/9/15


There are many here ready to disperse on the forest floor, but I’ve yet to hear one singing their sadly sweet song so I guess they save it for claiming territories and courting. Patches of forest floor are finally opening up on the south facing slopes, and they ought to start spreading out and singing Old Sam Peabody any day now.


Merlin female 5/7/15


She and her mate have been quite frisky atop this particular spruce which for some reason is a favorite spot for them doing it. He’s just flown off and of course I was late with the camera, but she’s still calling to him Killi, Killi, Killi! which I think roughly translates to Hop on honey! or more generally, Here I am, where are you? I’m not sure where they are nesting, farther up the highland slopes in past years, but there’s open spaces around my cabin and they are often hanging out, not to mention Hollis’s Sunflower Seed Restaurant up the road a piece has all kinds of take out.


Purple Finch male 5/5/15


There’s a large clade or group of birds known around the world as rose finches, all belonging to the genus Carpodacus. But not too long ago DNA sequencing showed that the 3 American rose finches—the Purple, House, and Cassin’s Finches—had diverged from the old-world rose finches much longer ago than anyone expected. They aren’t nearly as related to the other Carpodacus as the other Carpodacus are to each other. So the American rose-finches got reclassified into the genus Haemorhous which roughly translates to “blood finch.” The Purple Finch above is a male, females are a drab brown.


Swainson’s Thrush 5/1/15


During a quiet snowfall the other morning, I stepped out to commune with nature and spooked two thrushes and what I think was a Lapland Longspur that had been resting up against the cabin. The longspur disappeared completely but the thrushy birds just flew around the corner. They seemed attracted to the grassy patches under the wide eaves where only a dusting of snow was accumulating, and stayed huddled up against the foundation. Inside, I looked down through a window and there one was, Swainson’s Thrush, common enough in the woods here and usually singing sweet fluted notes mornings and evenings, now confined to whatever bare ground they can find until the slopes open up. I could see the “WTF?” speech ballon over its head. No worms and bugs to root for under all that snow—and no flutey songs for snowfalls—no matter how lovely.