Friday, January 7, 2011

Snowed in...

Snowing here in the Hudson Valley today so I'm home.  Most of the work I do when classes are not in session is on the computer anyway so there's no need to try to fight slippery roads to drive to my office.  Did a lot of work toward getting material put together for my spring classes which start on the 18th.

We have a birdfeeder on our back deck with suet and sunflower seeds and I've been watching the birds.  Just for fun, I took some pictures of the different birds visiting the feeder.  The pics are small but clicking on them gets a larger version.

Picture at left is a black-capped chickadee (Poecile atricapilla).  We seem to have less of them at our feeder than we used to have but it's hard to tell how many are really around.  I do hear them often since they have such a distinctive set of calls.  Picture at right is a white-breasted nuthatch (Sitta carolinensis) and a downy woodpecker (which I'll show another picture of in a minute).  The nuthatches are easy to spot since they like being upside down on tree trunks (or birdfeeders).

At left is female cardinal (Cardinalis cardinalis) and at right is the unmistakable male (with the downy woodpecker again).  They all look the same at the feeder but I've seen as many as six bright-red males at the same time in the trees surrounding my house.

A tufted titmouse (Baeolophus bicolor) strikes a pose at left and a male dark-eyed junco (Junco hyemalis) is seen at right (along with that persistent downy woodpecker).  We have lots of both visiting the feeder throughout the winter.

The bird at left is a European starling (Sturnus vulgaris).  I have to say I don't like them very much, they're an introduced species, aggressive, and compete with our native cavity-nesting birds.  Don't have a picture but just before I took this one, there was a mob of them at our feeder (they travel in packs like gang members!).  The guy at right is another introduced bird, the house sparrow (Passer domesticus).

Here are the downy woodpeckers (Picoides pubescens).  The male has a red crown, the female's don't.

I wasn't able to get pictures of some other birds who visited today, primarily the blue jays (Cyanocitta cristata) and a beautiful red bellied woodpecker (Melanerpes carolinus).

Then, of course, there's this guy and his friends.  The bane of my dog's existence since he can't manage to catch them.

All of the identifications and Latin names are from the Birds of New York Field Guide, a book we keep next to the glass door out to our deck where the bird feeder is located.  I use it all the time.  I will it was a little more detailed and had a spiral binding (my binding's coming apart since I use it so much), but overall it's pretty good if, of course, you live in New York State!

Another great resource for New York birds is the Cornell Ornithology Lab Bird Guide.  It even has audio clips of the bird calls which is useful for learning what birds live in your area (you'll often hear birds you won't easily see).

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