Thursday, February 24, 2011

Great Backyard Bird Count 2011

This past weekend we participated in the 14th Annual Great Backyard Bird Count. Bird watching is an inexpensive, fun, educational hobby. Most of the pictures this week are from the Backyard Bird Count and feature birds that we don't get to see every day or, in the case of the White-winged Crossbeak, from year to year.

The Blue Jay - Cyanocitta cristata - is a year around visitor.

One of the 18 different species of birds that we identified during the GBBC this year was this Brown Creeper.

Brown Creeper - Certhia americana - can be found in Cambria County in both winter and summer, depending upon the conditions.

Can you find the Creeper in this shot?
Talk about camouflage!

One of the many Mourning Doves - Zenaida macroura -that visit the feeders.

It's fun to watch a bird of this size try to land on such a short platform like the one on this sunflower feeder.

Male Downy Woodpecker - Picoides pubescens - are at the feeders year round.

Female Downy Woodpecker

It's been two years since this next bird was last reported in the area. According to the area coordinator for the Pennsylvania Society for Ornithology, this first time visitor to the feeders at our house is the only White-Winged Crossbill reported in this part of Northern Cambria County this year.

White-Winged Crossbill - Loxia-leucoptera - is usually found far north in Canada in the spruce, pine, and larch forests.

Getting artsey with the White-winged.

This is one of the first photographs I took of the bird when it first showed up at our feeders about a week ago.

A good shot of the crossbill which the bird uses to pull seeds from inside pine cones.

Sharing the sunflower feeder with a Black-capped Chickadee - Poecile-atricapillus - during the Great Backyard Bird Count held from Feb 18 to 21, 2011.

How lucky could we be that the Sharp-shinned Hawk - Accipiter striatus - would show up in time to be counted in the GBBC. Of course, the other birds were unlucky. He's sitting on the sassafras pole that holds several of the feeders.

He spent a few minutes checking out his prospects before flying off.

Red-bellied Woodpecker - Melanerpes carolinus

Male Red-bellied Woodpecker - I took this shot just seconds before the one below. Usually the male and female don't come to the feeders together but it might be getting close to mating season.

Female Red-bellied Woodpecker

Male Northern Cardinal - Cardinalis cardinalis - sits in the blowing snow.

The Male Cardinal is checking out the birds eating on the ground underneath the feeders before he decides to take off.

European Starling - Sturnus vulgaris

It's seldom that we get to see the Starlings, but when they do come to the feeders, they are very entertaining. They like to challenge each other to the best position on the suet feeders.

Dancing with the Starlings.

Thursday, February 17, 2011

The Wildlife

Not sure why, but we've been having an exceptional year of wildlife watching. The days are growing longer and the sun is shining! What a difference the bright sunshine makes when I take photos of the wildlife.

Black-capped Chickadee sitting outside the bedroom window in a rhododendron.

This was a lucky shot. I had just pressed the cable release to get a shot of this Male Downy Woodpecker climbing up the tree trunk, when he took off.

A Tree Sparrow getting a snack in the frozen food section. We had to put up with some ice and freezing rain before the sun came out.

With a mouth full of suet a Male Red-bellied Woodpecker prepares to take off over top of the suet feeder.

This Dark-Eyed Junco has no idea what's coming his way. In case you are wondering, that's a Downey Woodpecker.

As we get closer and closer to spring the Male Goldfinches are beginning to take on their brighter spring colors.

We've been enjoying the antics of this opossum for the last few weeks. He was raiding the box of apples stored on the deck. Now that the apples are gone he has found other food and even uses the heated bird bath for a source of water.

A moment in the sun.

The opossum, North America's only marsupial.
This shot is a good view of the animals pacing gait, when legs on one side are moved and then the legs on the other side are moved.

If it wasn't for the snow on the ground you probably wouldn't be able to see this little guy as he roams through the woods. I'd really like to see him hanging from a tree.

Humans aren't the only ones that appreciate a sunny winter's day, even though the temperature is still in the mid-20s.

A squirrel scampers across a sassafras tree on his way to the bird feeders.

This is not a well thought out plan of attack.

Of the five species of squirrels in Pennsylvania, the red squirrel is probably the smallest. About the only thing good I ever heard said about a red squirrel was that the hair from their tails make good fly fishing lures.

A Male House Finch munches on a sunflower seed while sitting on a tree branch.

We've been enjoying regular visits from the deer this year. We've had as many as 8 visit us at one time.

Obviously the deer can hear me but they just can't see me.

With their ears acting like large antenna, there isn't much in the way of sound that escapes the ever wary white tailed deer.

Can I have a little kiss, deer?

And as we were preparing this blog entry on Wednesday evening, three of the deer visited us again and provided a nice distraction. Ain't life good!