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Tuesday, November 29, 2011

Birdseed: for, or against?

Prospect Park: October 2011

A couple of weekends ago on one of those beautiful fall Saturday's we found a bird bonanza awaiting us at Prospect Park. After the several slow weekends we had, I thought we missed the fall migration and it would be nothing but Mallards and boring old song sparrows (kidding!) from here on out. Boy was I mistaken! Check out the sweet birds we spotted below.

 We were immediately greeted by this Brown Creeper.  I'd never seen one and was unfamiliar with their wylie maneuverings.  This is probably the best full body shot we got of him.

Brown Creeper 

My birding intuition paid off when I consulted the Sibley guide to figure out what this was.  Chickadees, Nuthatches and their Allies: The Brown Creeper.  The only one listed in the genus Certhia, the Brown Creeper has that distinctive curved bill and is UNCOMMON (!! This always gets me excited) in manture woods.  He blended in like a chameleon with the trees he was foraging on.

Find the Brown Creeper!  They do this foraging pattern where they start at the base of the tree and then work their way up in a spiraling motion so every time you think you're going to get a really great shot he's on the move again.  I couldn't figure it out at the time.  Brown Creeper!  What's your game?!!?

Blue Jay

Frustrated (and amused) by the BC's antics, I moved on to more stationary targets and caught this Jay in the trees.  Although they kind of seem like jerks sometimes with their squwaking, the Blue Jay is really a beautiful bird.  His feather patterns look like some kind of mosaic here.

Hermit Thrush

D caught this one while I was hunting down some white-throated sparrows.  We had no idea what this was when we first saw it but his "relatively heavily spotted breast with contrasting reddish tail and complete white eye-ring" gave him away. 

Ruby-crowned Kinglet

This was definitely one of our most exciting spots of the trip.  That red on his head must be important.  And it turns out it was, for this was a little king!!  The ID on this guy puzzled us for a while.  Usually the red crest is raised in a sort of Mohawk fashion.

Here he is again, just doing his thing.

Male Yellow-rumped Warbler

Finally!  We've seen so many ladies it's about time we saw the dude.  Doesn't he look like some kind of bird super-hero with a black eye mask?

Black-throated Blue Warbler

Another D sighting.  He really had to crawl through the muck to find him, and we only got a couple of fuzzy shots.  I was able to spot him with the binocs though, and I think I'd like to see him again some time soon! He's nearly always in shady understory within woodlands, so I know where to look. 

Golden-crowned Kinglet

Two king spottings in one day?!?!?!  What fortune!

Black-capped Chickadee

Now it's time to get to the meat and potatoes of this post.  Birdseed.  As you can see above, we saw plenty of amazing birds during this trip to the park.  On our way out, we decided to walk through Nellie's Lawn to the Vale of Cashmere (real names of places in the park!) and came upon this scene: 4 stone pillars covered in birdseed surround an stone pond. A black-capped chickadee alights on the corner of one of the pillars.  I'm freaking out! We were so close, and he was NOT afraid.  Solely interested in the readily accessible food source in front of him.  

 Chickadee on a Fence

There were Northern Cardinals, too!  

And Tufted Titmice!

Even the Mrs. came out!

The whole birdseed thing sort of felt like cheating for some reason....takes the fun out of the hunt a little bit.  But whatever, the birds like it and it makes for good photo-ops.

Chipmunk is for!

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