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showdown with a backyard visitor or On becoming a bird-watcher

yellowcrowned night heronSo yesterday I headed out to my back yard for a good walk. My backyard is big enough that if I walk around it 10 times, I have gone about one mile (per my expert calculations). About 1/2 way around I look up and face off a lovely bird that has graced my yard with his/her presence (and sometimes with a mate) twice a year for the past two years. Not wanting to scare her/him away I slowly backed up, retraced my steps and found my walk elsewhere. This bird is so beautiful, I have never seen the like before. So finally I looked him up, sifting through pages of herons, to discover his name: Yellow-Crowned Night Heron (which explains why we usually see the lone bird or sometimes the pair in the early morning or in the evening).

I have decided that one of the many things that I want to do this summer is more actively watch and identify the birds that grace my back and front yard. So I got a couple of bird-identification books from the library (that I am less than happy with mind you, not enough pictures for me) and I am discovering that it is not quite as easy as it seems. Yesterday I got hubby to hang a second and larger feeder in the yard (the current feeder just for small birds), and this morning set out to make a list of birds I have seen and birds I saw today.

Some are simple and easy to recognize (and I knew what they were before looking in the book, if not their specified names): Northern Cardinal (male and female) American Robin, Mourning doves, Mockingbirds, and Bluejays.

The others not so easy: First is the chickadee…my favorite of the birds I have seen so far. But I am not sure if it is the black-capped chickadee or the carolina chickadee. Then there is a lovely red-throated little guy that I think is a finch and either a house finch or a purple finch. Next is the Tufted Titmouse….I think. Or he could be some sort of flycatcher, but does look more like a titmouse from the pictures (and titmouse is funner to say). Then there is what I think is some kind of sparrow, and my best guess is Chipping Sparrow. Dang things move about so fast it is hard to tell. There are also several other brown patterned birds that I think might be some kind of sparrow but who knows.

In the past few weeks I have also seen a hummingbird (what kind, no clue) and a woodpecker or two (again just woodpecker, unable to specify). There is a lot more to this then I expected! But its kind of fun.

I think I need a better field guide.


One Response

  1. I like woodpecker rather than hummingbird.. It’s a very cute bird.

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