Thursday, April 2, 2009

Settling Into a Routine and a Mystery Bird

We're getting into a regular schedule at my house. Crack of dawn, the birds come and feed, soon after follow the squirrels and the rabbit, and a few hours later I wake up and rush off to work. ;) I'm not sure if they graze on and off during the day or not - the cat would know, but she's not talking! I get home around 5 p.m. or so, on most days. Again, the birds feed first; then the rodents scare them off. Tonight I noticed Peter and Fred calmly sharing their dinners, though Peter was nibbling on grass instead of seeds.

Here's a rundown on the bird species that have graced my feeder thus far) and many of them have made their first appearance just this week):

  • a pair of house finches - my long-time guests
  • at least two pairs of dark-eyed juncos (slate variation)
  • two pairs of mourning doves and one single dove (I had a single one for a couple weeks that I was calling Clarisse - she brought her friends along just the other night)
  • various robins
  • various starlings (those buggers chase the others off)
I am anxiously trying to lure some bluebirds that I have seen flitting about in the field. I've even gone so far as to buy some mealy worms from the local bait machine! So far there have been no takers, though.

Tuesday was a gorgeous day here in Central Pennsylvania. I decided it was time to throw that first steak of the year on the grill and eat out on the patio. As I sat outside under my cheery umbrella waiting for my food, I noticed Clarisse worriedly eyeing me from the neighbors clothesline. Another small, gray "mystery" bird actually landed at the feeder and either didn't notice me or ignored me. Garnering confidence from the smaller bird dining unmolested, Clarisse eventually joined me for dinner. I spent the meal wondering about my mystery guest, though.

After I ate (and after a startled visit from Fred, who quickly scampered back around the corner of the house upon seeing me), I went inside to try to figure out what species of bird I had just seen. My favorite bird identification site is What Bird. They have a really cool tool that allows you to put in the characteristics you see in a bird and narrow down what species it might be. Unfortunately, it goes mostly by the male bird's appearance, so I was not initially able to determine what I was looking at.

However, tonight I hit the jackpot. I just happened to look out the window, and what did I see? A male brown-headed cowbird! (The females are slate gray.) Mystery solved!

(pictures will be forthcoming)

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