Saturday, April 14, 2007

Feeder frustration, feeder predation

Darn these grackles and red-winged blackbirds; they scare away all the songbirds! I’ve tried leaving the feeders empty for a few days, but then when I fill the feeders again, the pests come back. Any suggestions?

I saw the great blue heron last evening and this morning, making several flights along the back of the marsh. Of course I always had my camera off, or in the other room because I was just making coffee and saw him while staring absently out the kitchen window, or whatever. I wouldn’t have gotten a good photo anyway--it’s probably 300 yards to the back of the marsh from the house. (this is a guesstimate--but it’s far) Still, she flew in last night, landed in the high grass back there, and disappeared. This morning, she flew low over the same line of high grass, landing in a different area--or it’s a different heron! Roana the birder is coming in a few weeks to check it out, so I’m really hoping we have a rookery back there.

This morning while going out to the feeders, I saw a very sad thing:

It was bad enough when that Cooper’s hawk nabbed a bird on the platform feeder; this was a bun! I know the raptors have to eat, and I know it’s all about the “circle of life” and “can you feel the love tonight,” but . . . a bunny! Oh dear. I’m just glad I didn’t see it happen. That would’ve killed me.

You can be sure I will not tell my little son-moon-and-stars about it:

On a brighter note, I saw a dark-eyed junco:

and what I think is an American tree sparrow, but there was no spot on the breast, no wingbars, and the eyestripe didn’t look rufous; it looked black. Is this a female of some kind?

Sorry I didn’t get a better view of the front, but the bird just wasn’t cooperating! Still, I think you can see in the second photo that there’s no spot on the breast. Definitely a rusty coloring, and you see the eye stripe is dark, not red. I think I see the two-toned bill of a tree sparrow, though. Boy, these sparrows are tough for me, but I love them so! Maybe Mike McDowell, who also loves sparrows, will look at these pics and tell me in a split-second what it is. Maybe I’m just overthinking.

Anyway, it’s a decent morning in Central PA; cloudy, but bright. We’re expecting a monster storm this weekend, one that might dump a foot of snow on Sunday night/Monday morning. Come on, snowday!

Actually, my work hasn’t had one snowday in the almost-three years I’ve been there, so it’s not too likely. Still, if things look nasty, I may just take a vacation day. I don’t like to go out when the roads are scary. We’ll see what happens. It’s probably going to be a light dusting; you know how these weather forecasters like to throw down the big dramatic predictions.

When I lived in Texas, it was almost like the different stations’ forecasters would compete for who could offer the scariest prediction. It would escalate from “probably a good chance we’ll see some possibly heavy rain” to “severe thunderstorms” to “possible hail!” to “tornado warning! Duck and cover!” In the winter, it was even worse, with the weather people racing each other to be the first to forecast the grand-daddy of all Texas winter fears, the ice storm. I was reading a blog by a guy in Houston yesterday, and apparently they had one of these high alerts in January, Ice 2007! At least they got some ice; usually, it would just rain for about three days, and then it would blow over.

“Not with a bang, but a whimper” indeed.


Mary said...

Delia, I've been fussing about the Red-Winged Blackburds, Grackles, and...Starlings! They are feeder monsters! And I don't know what to do, either.

Hawks kills are hard to take. I know they have to eat but I don't like to see it. I've seen two mourning doves taken away and it breaks my heart. I read that during the reproductive season and nesting, they will make 35 kills a day. Wow.

Let's observe this summer and the changes that are taking place.

And, oh, I hope that's a rookery there! Don't need one near my pond, though ;o)

dguzman said...

35 kills a day? Per hawk? That's a lot of food! I wonder how many babies they have (consulting Stokes)--redtails have between 1-5 eggs, Cooper's have 3-6. I guess that's a lot of mouths to feed.

You've got a frog rookery (breedery?) in your pond, so there's plenty of spring lovin' going on already in your backyard! hee hee!

Starlings haven't been too bad this year, but I'm sure it'll get worse as it gets warmer. Oh well.

Susan Gets Native said...

I'm not the resident sparrow expert...but...maybe an immature white throated? Or the first known hybrid of a fox sparrow and a song sparrow?
That's a tough one. So what I do...send it to Julie Zickefoose. She is very helpful to beginning birders...(and mid-level birders who are really bad at sparrow ID's!)

dguzman said...

Thanks, Susan--I'll send it to Julie and see what she thinks.

These sparrow IDs drive me nuts, but I think that's why I like them--like golf. You only keep doing it because once in fifty swings, you hit THE swing and the ball goes right where you want it. That's the swing that keeps you going.

Patrick Belardo said...

Swamp Sparrow?

Julie Zickefoose said...

Whoot! Delia's got a swamp sparrow!!
Yer bun is adorrabbitable.Baker would like to meet him and just give him some kisses. All bets are off if he runs...

dguzman said...

Thanks Patrick and Julie! I've been seeing a lot of these swampies, all distinctive for my inability to just recognize them as swampies, not some other kind of sparrow. Maybe that will be my new default ID: "hey (points at bald eagle)--is that a swampy? Kinda big...."

Niblet would love to meet Chet Baker! He never runs, though--he's more of a chaser himself--just ask the kitties! He's very social.