With the Cooper’s hawk flying through regularly, my backyard bird activity has dropped significantly. But the resident Downy woodpeckers are not phased by it. I have at least one male/female pair. They frequent the feeder all day, every day. This is a photo of a female downy woodpecker (DOWO) on the finch feeder. They love to pick the sunflower chips out of the mix. Downy’s are notoriously difficult to ID versus the similar looking, but larger, Hairy woodpecker species. In this photo, though, you can see a couple of the markers that confirms it is a downy: the relatively short beak, and the black flecks on the outer white tailfeathers. Here’s a link to Audubon guidance on differentiating the two species.
It took four and a half years, but yesterday I spectacularly broke the screen on my phone (heavy sigh). Interestingly, the touch screen capability still works. I have it in a baggie, so that I am able to use it without cutting my fingers, until I can get to the Apple Store.
I was sitting on the back patio today when four beautiful warblers decided to take a bath in the fountain, about 10 feet away from me! I was treated to a yellow warbler, two black-throated green warblers, and a mourning warbler. I had my binoculars so I enjoyed a nice long look. But of course, the camera was in the house. After they had moved on, I went back in for my camera. The earlier photo opp didn’t repeat, but I did get a shot or two of a beautiful yellow warbler that dropped down to the fountain for a drink. Fall migration is on!
Yesterday was the autumnal equinox. It turned out to be a lovely evening for a beer can regatta on the lake. I took Nirvana out with Lori and Kurt as crew. Marty took Stand by Me out with Monte and Kevin as crew. There were four other boats as well. We were treated to a pretty double rainbow as a rainstorm skirted us to the southeast. When we crossed the finish line in fourth place, it was against the backdrop of a beautiful sunset. A fun sail!
Keeto often asks us, “Who’s here?” Well, this morning, when I opened up the blinds to look at the back yard, I was excited to see a flock of baltimore orioles in the bird bath/fountain that I put out in the spring. There were many more in the trees above, taking turns bathing. The orioles are currently migrating south for the winter. In the spring, on their way north, I only got a moment’s glance at a single male baltimore oriole. Today though, I got to enjoy them for about 15 minutes. And then, poof, they were gone. I hope they remember to stop here on their way back next spring.
Since coming home from our road trip, I have noticed a marked decrease in my backyard birdie population. I suspected a hawk was the reason. And today, sure enough, while sitting out back I saw one swoop through the backyard scattering the few birds that were at the feeders. Later in the day, the hawk flew in again and perched on an oak across from me for a few minutes. It is huge. I believe this is a juvenile Cooper’s hawk. Cooper’s hawks and sharp-shinned hawks, both accipiters, are very hard to distinguish from one another. Based on field guidance I’ve read online (e.g., here, here, here and here), the overall size, head shape, tail shape, thick legs, and breast streaking lead me to lean towards a Cooper’s ID. Either way, it’s a beautiful bird, but I wish it would find another yard to terrorize. I miss my abundance of birdies.