22 January 2009


That's French . . just FYI. Here, try it again with me. FEE-nahl-mont! Don't you feel like a sophisticated world traveler now? You're welcome.

Yeah, so anyway, my yard was finally visited by those most elusive of thistle-eaters this morning, the Pine Siskins! Every birder in the Greater Charlotte region has reported having these uncommon winter visitors at their feeders this year, and I'd begun to feel a little (OK, a lot) left out. One guy must have mentioned his 50+ Pine Siskins 3 or 4 times . . braggart.

Not really expecting anything different, but not having anything pressing to accomplish, I went out onto the patio this morning to try to get a shot of a bird I affectionately call the Chicken Pigeon. The pigeons don't really appreciate the sound of the back door though (perhaps they've heard all of the BB gun talk), so I settled for shots of what I thought were just my usual American Goldfinches. When what to my wondering eye did appear? A siskin, doing his best to blend in! That's him (her?) there on the left of the yellow thistle feeder. I approached for better footage.

"Where'd everybody go?

"Sweet! I've got it all to myself! You finches don't know what you're missing, this thistle is BANGIN'!"

"Whoa there, you with the big black clicky thing! A little too close for comfort with that last step. This willow tree looks like a good place to blend in with the locals. 'Sup butter-butt?"

"Dude, you're still here? Why don't you take a picture, it'll last longer!"

Don't mind if I do.

20 January 2009

Snowy Day Birds

A couple of things before the comments start flying.

Number 1, I know this snowy day I'm sharing brought little more than a dusting. That apparently didn't bother the birds, so try not to let it bother you.

Number 2, I TRIED to get the girls to go outside and play in the snow, but Lily lasted about 14 seconds before she banged her ear on the slide and came running inside whining about being too cold.

So while there are no pictures to share of my kids playing in what will certainly be our only snowfall of the year, I managed to get plenty of shots of my backyard birds, who were (and still are) present in record numbers on this most inclement day.

There have been 4 or 5 Song Sparrows pecking around on the ground, gobbling up the millet that's supposed to keep the pigeons out of the sunflower seeds. Have I mentioned I need a BB gun?

Yesterday, apparently in anticipation of the snow, I was visited by two Field Sparrows. Just a moment ago, a Chipping Sparrow made a brief visit to one of the crepe myrtles to see what all of the commotion was about. He hasn't been back.

A few days ago I made my first ever batch of Zick Dough, a homemade bird treat I'd heard about often but never experienced first hand. Let me tell you . . if you've got Eastern Bluebirds you want to make happy, this is the ticket. Mealworms are great, but the price tag is high and the maintenance is tedious. Zick Dough, to the contrary, is cheap, quick, and low maintenance. Within an hour of putting the first offering out in my new side-dish feeder, 3 bluebirds had turned it into their own personal all-you-care-to-eat buffet. Just let me know when it's gettin' low guys!

My back yard is never short on finches. Recently though, they've been shying away from my thistle seed feeder and tending toward the sunflower seeds. Concerned that I'd been offering them an inferior meal, I sprung for a new bag from my local Wild Birds Unlimited, hoping to bring order back to my feeding stations. They weren't as quick as the bluebirds, but less than 24 hours after discarding the old thistle seed, it was business as usual at the ol' yellow feeder.

Not pictured here are my usual cadray of Mourning Doves, Rock Pigeons, and Yellow-rumped Warblers. Add to that a trio of snow-day Northern Cardinals, and my yard list for the day is up over 10, which is quite good for my little corner of suburbia!

This next picture is from a week or so ago, but I never shared it and I really wanted to. It's a shot I took of an immature White-crowned Sparrow. I couldn't get any of the adults to sit still for long enough to photograph, but this little guy was happy to hang out in the tree for a few seconds.

And then there's my favorite bird of the day. When I drive to work in the mornings and then home again at night, I often spot this Loggerhead Shrike along one of the otherwise boring stretches of road. This morning I put the camera in the car with the express purpose of capturing his image, and he did not disappoint. What a cool looking bird . .