Thursday, December 21, 2006

This Morning's Visitors

Snow brings great bird-watching, as an assortment--and quantity--of birds flock to the feeders. As most of the country knows by now, we've been getting dumped on! [This storm is now labeled "Storm 3" for purposes of keeping track.] This morning hundreds of birds--mostly Juncos, Sparrows, and Finches--have been coming by for treats. There are also a few Starlings, Towhees, Crows, Magpies, and of course the Scrub Jays.

When I put out suet earlier this week, I was hoping it would help out the woodpeckers and flickers. Instead, this little Downy Woodpecker decided to go for the thistle seed!

Three Juncos wait their turn at the thistle feeder, while the Downy gets his fill.

The Husband cleared a spot on the porch to put some seed where it wouldn't get immediately buried in snow. When all the little birds disappeared, we knew Artemis, or her new fellow hawk, was in the area. I saw the swoop, and looked out windows trying to spot her/him.

I was scanning too far afield, and in the trees. Finally, I spotted him, just a few feet from the bedroom window (note the indoor potted plant), with an unlucky Starling for breakfast, right on top of the birdseed just put out for the little ones. The spots mark "him" as Speck, our new local Sharp-shinned Hawk. He soon took off with his meal, so I never got a better shot.

When I put out suet, it attracts Black-billed Magpies. So here's a small challenge for you. How many pie-birds in this picture? Answer will be posted tomorrow. (Remember, you can click to enlarge the photo!)

There are Two of Them!

We've been watching young Artemis, the local sharp-shinned hawk since the spring equinox post that launched this blog, so three-quarters of the way around the year. She visits when it snows, so this picture was taken when she stopped in last week. After the Nov 30th snow, she came by to kill a scrub jay by the coop, then, next day, a junco under the lilac bush.

She has, in recent months, lost the white spots on her back.

So the spots told us that this sharp-shinned hawk, now dubbed Speck, was a different bird. Many of the neighbors have now reported seeing these small hawks, but we'll have to hone in on which sightings go with which bird.