Find me a bird

downy hairy woodpeckers

Tick, tock.

I can tell the difference between downy and hairy woodpeckers now, thanks to this perfectly timed bird moment captured through the kitchen window yesterday.

I counted backyard birds this past weekend for the annual NH Audubon Backyard Winter Bird Survey. (The Great Backyard Bird Count is next weekend.) Submitted my totals last night.

tree sparrow goldfinches

A tree sparrow among the goldfinches, shot through the sliding glass door. The cat was watching with me, motionless except for the last one inch of her emotion-betraying tail.

I counted 2 American tree sparrows, new to me. I didn’t know what they were until I photographed and looked them up. These winter visitors breed in the tundra region in summer… like snowy owls! Look at his little rusty cap, long tail and white feather stripe.

bluebird

Bluebird, one of 4 I counted.

This fellow looks pensive. And fatly fluffed to keep warm.

Why are bluebirds blue? Because it’s sexy to the ladies. Obviously.

It’s a trick of the light.

bluebird

Smile for the window lady in her pajamas with a camera.

Actually, I had just come back from snowshoeing in the red maple swamp, so I was probably wearing my snow pants. But it was a pretty lazy weekend otherwise. It’s good I didn’t have a lot of snacks in the house, just leftover pork stew cooked in hard cider, mm, and a bottle of cheap rosé.

(At the intersection of very inexpensive and not bad tasting at all, I recommend the red, white and rosé from La Vieille Ferme, all $6.99 right now at NH Liquor & Wine Outlets. And, yes, the first time I bought a bottle, it was because of the rooster and hen on the label.)

bluebird

Bluebirds are members of the thrush family, like robins.

Like robins, they are symbols of spring… but they live here all year. There are nice people like me who feed them peanuts, mealworms and bluebird food, but even more importantly there are lots of shrubs with berries available all winter, especially out in the swamp.

bluebird feeder

I bought this domed bluebird feeder on Friday at Agway for about $24. I added bluebird nuggets, roasted peanuts and some chopped peanut hearts, and a few sunflower seeds.

Bluebirds are better at perching on rims than the little metal perches that come out of the sides of tube feeders.

bluebird

Or forget perching, they just stand inside the tray like this female bluebird.

There is something a bit charmingly doltish about the blue beauties – at least if you’ve been swarmed all day with perky titmice and bold chickadees, those pinging electrons of the backyard bird world. Bluebirds hold still long enough to be counted, at least.

female bluebird

Lady bluebird.

Like cardinals, the females’ colors are muted but beautiful still.

My weekend totals (you only count the most birds you’ve seen at one time) also included: 8 (at least) black-capped chickadees; 3 dark-eyed juncos; 3 tufted titmice; 4 northern cardinals (2 male, 2 female); 1 red-tailed hawk; 2 white-breasted nuthatches; 1 (oddly alone) mourning dove; 11 American goldfinches (it’s going to be very colorful around here at Easter, when the males turn bright Peep yellow);  2 downy woodpeckers; 1 hairy woodpecker; 3 bluejays; 1 American crow (more around but I couldn’t see them); 1 red squirrel; and… 1 great blue heron at our pond yesterday afternoon! .. spotted as I bushwhacked out of the swamp, and chased off by the dog.

deer

On Saturday evening, five or six deer came to the edge of the woods and looked at the pole feeder full of black oil sunflower seeds, but did not venture forth for a taste. (Photo through a bathroom window.) They are usually desperate enough to go for seeds in March.

I have considered adding a heated birdbath to the bird feeding array. All weekend I kept putting out a bowl of water from the kitchen, replacing it when it froze. But I watched the birds ignore the water and eat snow instead. Fine. Eat snow. (We got a fresh two inches last night.)

The weekend bird count was an exercise in paying attention. I have been seeing more birds everywhere this winter, but I expect they have been there all along.

44724g1

Child and sparrow, Kawano Kaoru.

Notice birds, everywhere.

Poem: Hardware Sparrows

Out for a deadbolt, light bulbs
and two-by-fours, I find a flock
of sparrows safe from hawks

and weather under the roof
of Lowe’s amazing discount store.

My daughter Anna mocks me as a “bird lady” now – when, for example, I burst in the door and the first thing I say is something like: “Three Northern Ravens over the parking lot at Planet Fitness!”

Hey, at least I’m not a (feral) cat lady. Read this disturbing article. “Time to release the cats.” Bird ladies will shudder.

Anna posted this photo on my Facebook page the other day…

bird-lady-central-park-232x300

Ha ha, fine. I own it.

I hope I do still attend to birds in the coming decades. Especially chickens, the birds that (oddly enough) got me started on being birdier. But I plan to draw the line at a pigeon on my hat.

Urban dictionary: bird-lady

1. Owner of 2 or more birds
There is a girl who always has her birds all over her, dang, she’s a bird lady!

2. An english teacher that caws like a bird and makes randy jokes like “Calpurnia should get on the stick.” She can be noticed by her noah and the ark dress, and she keeps information on all of her students in a desk drawer, “just in case.” She lives in a tree.
“I hated English today.”

“Yeah, that woman is such a bird-lady.

3. When your hair is sticking up in the back like old bird ladies with wild, poofy hair.

A cowlick
“Dude, you have a major birdlady today.”

I posted this bird lady photo in response to my daughter…

bluebirdlady

Yeah.

We conclude this day’s blog post with a sweetly corny song (which includes some talented whistling)…