Cool (cold?), breezy, sunny weather has been keeping our local birds active and a few apparent migrants lingering.
The black species are especially notable as resident STARLINGS vacuum peanuts while migrant RED WINGED BLACKBIRDS & GRACKLES compete with the MOURNING DOVES for everything that resembles a seed.
There were a few COWBIRDS present Wednesday, including one late into the evening that appeared docile. It sat on the ground and allowed me very close. Thinking that it might be injured, I bent to retrieve it, but with my hand a couple inches away it decided that it needed to be elsewhere.
This week brought as many as 4 BALTIMORE ORIOLES, with at least one sampling the grape jelly several times a day. Green grapes, red grapes, oranges & grapefruit are mostly ignored by the Orioles but fiercely contested by about a half dozen CATBIRDS. Two Catbirds in particular are posturing and scuffling every time they see each other.
GOLDFINCHES are still plentiful but with their constant movement they are almost impossible to count. I do see upwards of 2-3 dozen around quite frequently and some are always in sight. Lots of brilliant, fresh yellow now.
Frequently, too, there is a sprinkling of PURPLE FINCHES.
A few SAVANNAH SPARROWS appear to be resident, as well as 3-4 SONG SPARROWS.
About a half dozen WHITE CROWNED SPARROWS popped by singly & briefly over the weekend.
Bird-of the Day for Wednesday was a pristine FIELD SPARROW, a very grey variant.
Field Sparrows are quite rare around here so it's been doubly rare to have this one hang around all day and scoff white millet in competition with the other ground feeders.
DOWNY & HAIRY WOODPECKERS continue to be pretty much constantly present, with the Downys most numerous. Suet, of course is the main attraction, with peanuts and oilseed more like desert.
CHICKADEES are also constantly flitting in for oilseeds or perhaps a bit of peanut whenever there's space at the table.
One Chickie decided to investigate inside the house and had to be evicted. The little fella wasn't too pleased with my handling but at least he made it safely outside.
OSPREYS are working the river basin and there's generally a group of DOUBLE CRESTED CORMORANTS looking to share whatever is running (likely ALEWIVES).
EAGLES are on the nest at the river gorge. Hopefully we will be seeing a successful rearing this year.
CARDINALS are notable for their absence. One assumes that they are on their nest territories but it seems strange after having between 15 and 20 visiting throughout the winter. I haven't seen or heard one during the couple weeks that I've been home.
There is an active ROBIN nest in the cedar next door.
As I swung down my street last evening I saw a kettle of TURKEY VULTURES wheeling low, frequently only 50 to 100 feet from my doorstep. Now anyone familiar with my location will appreciate that I'm only a few feet from a dead-end and on the top of a 50 foot bank. The Vultures slice across at eye level and lower, as well as very low overhead. Close-ups from every angle.
There were over 20 birds in the group, all adults and an Osprey kept getting put off his hunting by all the traffic.
Low level kettles like this are pretty much a daily occurrence here in the summer, frequently both morning and evening and frequently with over 30 individuals. They are short lived but impressive while they last.
As happens too frequently, while you try to take in one event, along comes another to distract. Such was the case with the Vultures when a BEAVER tried to up-stage them.
Many Beaver and Muskrats will disperse with the Spring Freshet, travelling downstream in search of under or unpopulated streams. If they reach the salt, tidal water (and often they do), they swim along the coast until they find a potential home brook or stream.
This poor bugger came through the river gorge at full flow; one hell of a rough drop. (Think Niagara Fall without a barrel.)
It made it out of the current and ashore behind the boat ramp, where it stopped briefly to set its clothing aright.
I last saw it poking along the shoreline with a couple small brooks ahead but little homestead opportunity because of human occupation.
We'll never know if that animal was uninjured, if it survives, or if it becomes just another casualty of Human alteration of the environment.