Monday, October 11, 2010

October 11: Back Yard Birds

This morning as I was sitting at my desk looking out upon the golden ash leaves shining in the morning sun, I noticed a bit of bird action back there, as well. Little birds were flitting and flickering among the leaves. So, still in my pajamas, I sat on my back step with my binoculars and tried to see what was moving through the yard. I hung out long enough that a leaf twirled through the air and landed on my back.

In order of quantity, here's what I observed:
Black-capped chickadee--hard to keep track of numbers, they were so active
Tufted titmouse--several moving back and forth from feeder to trees
White-breasted nuthatch--a pair hanging around the shed roof and nearby trees, occasionally on the feeder
Downy woodpecker--one female on the birch tree in the driveway, calling
Crow--one cawing down the street
The leaves are still heavy on the trees here, so I think a brown creeper may have been in that mix, too--the birds were hard to track once they got up in the leaves.

As is often the case, my favorite bird to watch was the chickadee. A small local flock seems to make the rounds a few times a day, and I always feel a little blessed when it's my feeders' turn for a visitation. These perky little birds are constantly entertaining, being both sociable and acrobatic. I watched one dangle from the end of a leaf to snap up an insect. Another landed on the lawn among the dead ferns and hopped up and down trying to catch something. All the while, they call to one another, like kids text-messaging.

I recently came up with an idea for a book I'd (jokingly) like to publish: The 100 Cutest Birds of North America. Chickadees are definitely in there. And titmice. And nuthatches. And probably the downy--our smallest woodpecker--too. Perhaps I'm a little biased toward these birds I see and enjoy every day.*

As the trees redden and leaves fall, it's somehow reassuring to know that most of those five species will likely be with me through the winter. The nuthatch may decide to head a little farther south, but the rest are locals. We're all in this together.

Small cove of my yard
harbors the local songbirds
through every season.

*Other birds I'd include: Gambel's quail, ivory gull, saw-whet owl, golden-crowned kinglet, least sandpiper, goldfinch, piping plover, puffin, yellowthroat, most other warblers, clay-colored sparrow, and Anna's hummingbird...