Saturday, November 17, 2012

Go to the Birds!

Why Birds?  I have had extraordinary experiences with birds. 

For example, a few years back I was feeding the birds around and in a large bush in front of my living room window.  I had been in the kitchen, and when I went to the living room, I saw a bird with a very long tail. It was sidewise to me, and then it turned directly towards me.  I caught the feeling of this bird, wanting food but unable to get at it because of it's long tail. 

I watched, and waited, and finally it did find a way to get out of the bush. 

In the aftermath, it felt important to see what kind of bird this was.  With help from an ornithologist (a bird specialist) I discovered this was a juvenile cormorant.  Now a cormorant is almost always found on the edge of the sea.  It eats fish.  So the food I had for the usual bird wouldn't have worked anyway.  I wonder still whether that juvenile bird found his way to the bay off the Pacific Ocean some few miles away.

More recently, I saw a juvenile Northern Harrier Hawk.  It was on the roof in a place that it was visible from where I was standing.  At first I didn't see much of it, and the back feathers were mostly grey, so I didn't think of it as unusual.  And then it flew.  The underbelly was mostly gold and some grey, and as the bird flew, I saw a round patch of white just at the base of the body.  I had never seen anything like it.  So I got out my Audubon book.  Nothing like it there.  But I wouldn't give up -- I went to Sibley, and quite quickly identified this beauty.  Sibley says the juvenile's gold/orange fades to whitish by spring.  Sibley also said the white rump is always obvious.  I also found that it is a rare occurrence, even though the Northern Harrier is widespread.

Finally, a hawk has been taking refuge in the trees, near to the suet.  I am not sure what kind of hawk, though I suspect it is a Swainson's Hawk.  My guess is that there is actually a pair, nesting in the Rhododendron.  Last year there was a pair of Starlings nesting in a large, 10 foot stump.  There was a hole just enough for the birds to get into it. 

There are lots of usual birds: right at this moment there is a flicker feeding at the suet cage.  There are Finches, Juncos, Chickadees, Sparrows and a Stellar Jay.  I love them all!

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