February 26, 2013

Purple or House Finches?

House finches visit the feeders every day. Once in a while there are one or two who are much brighter than the regulars. I have suspected these are purple finches. They don't usually stay long enough to be examined through the binoculars or allow me to get a picture of them, so I haven't been able to confirm it - until this morning. I saw them from the dining room window, grabbed the camera, went downstairs and slowly and quietly opened the door. I dared not step outside. Through the screen I took these photos.

I uploaded the pictures to the Great Backyard Bird Count Group on Facebook and asked the members to help me identify if they truly are purple finches. I was given that confirmation!

Addendum: After posting this, others in the group commented that these are indeed house finches and sited the brown cap and stripe on the side of the head. I looked through my bird books and pictures from professional sites on line, and found a large assortment of coloration on the purple finch. If the females would join the males, identification would be much easier, as the female purple finch has a distinct white stripe along the side of her head!

So as of now, I am NOT sure whether I have seen a purple finch or not!

February 13, 2013

The Great Backyard Bird Count 2013

Will you be participating this year?

It is easy to do. All it takes is 15 minutes. Count all the birds you see in one location by type, then enter the results on the website. You can spend as much time and cover as much of an area as you wish. Check back after the weekend and see the results for your area, your state, and this year around the world!

February 10, 2013

Eastern Phoebe in Winter?

Today was sunny, gorgeous, no wind, 36 degrees Fahrenheit. My husband and I spent the entire day outside shoveling the 30+ inches of snow we got from the recent blizzard off of our driveway. Many, many birds were out singing! We heard the usuals - chickadees, cardinals, blue jays, northern flicker, downy woodpecker, robins (yes, robins seem to spend the winter and spring here and then are gone for the summer) and a red shouldered hawk. But we both heard separately and then together an Eastern Phoebe! The last I remember hearing a phoebe was in October or November.

Is it possible they are still around and I haven't heard them because I haven't been spending time outdoors since then? Phoebes are flycatchers, though, which means they eat insects. Besides a few days in early December when moths and flies were active, it has been too cold for insects. My birding books state that phoebes spend summers in this area.

So why would a phoebe (or phoebes) be in the area now, after a blizzard? I checked eBird and so far there are no reports of them spotted in the state. Curious!

February 9, 2013

Cardinals and the Blizzard

I posted yesterday about the juncos and my concern for them finding food since they normally feed from the ground, as do the cardinals. Well today, the cardinals figured out how to get sunflower seeds from these tube-type feeders.

Cardinals are the quintessential winter bird, aren't they?

It looks like we got a little over two feet of snow, with many drifts four or five feet high, so it is hard to tell. The picket fence around the garden is about four feet tall, so we can approximate from there.

February 8, 2013

Juncos and the Upcoming Blizzard

The snow began falling at 7:30 this morning. It has been falling quickly and steadily. Already the ground is covered with about two inches of snow. The juncos, who normally feed on the ground, are trying desperately to get seeds from the tube feeders and food from the suet feeders. These feeders don't have perches for the juncos to land on so they are finding it difficult to get the food. I got the globe feeder which has a small 'floor' in it and hung that up. (This feeder doesn't hold much seed so I replaced it last fall with a larger tube type feeder.) If the juncos can get through the small openings, they should be able to rest on the floor and grab some seeds. I have gone through several different types of feeders over the years and any that have a platform or ledge enable squirrels and starlings to feed from them. It eliminates cardinals too, but they feed from the ground, so I haven't been concerned for them.

Almost immediately the juncos found the feeder and tried it out. Hooray, they can get inside! They are happily feeding from it now.

The prediction is for only a few inches during the day, with blizzard conditions beginning about 6 p.m. tonight. We are supposed to get anywhere from 2 to 3 feet! I'll keep you posted...
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