Sunday, September 8, 2013

Rare Encounters

When I left my busy life in Olympia, the Capitol of Washington State, I moved to Whatcom County.  My time was my own, and did read quite a lot.  I had no idea it would be so satisfying.  Even more, I learned a great deal about birds.

One of the things I did was feed the birds. There was a Vine Maple right outside my window, and I put seeds out for the birds. I hadn't any previous experience, but I had a couple of books and watched what they did.  There were lots of small birds:  Chickadees, Robins, Swallows, Finches, Bluebirds, Starlings, Sparrow, and more.  I enjoyed watching them.

There were larger birds: Flicker, Cardinal, Crow and even Raven.  But the most interesting was a large bird, looking straight at me.  It was longer than a yard long, more than the width of the Vine Maple.  I had no idea what to do.  But I looked at my bird books, and talked to an expert.

Cormorant!  Usually Cormorants stay close to the sea.  Where I was living was about five miles from the sea.  That's not a difficult flight for this bird, but this young one was confused.  There wasn't really anything I could do: I couldn't even give food and water.  Eventually the bird flew.

Later, in a different and bigger house, I continued to feed  the birds through the winter.  I saw many different species.  I have two bird feeders through the winter.  One is for the smaller birds, and another somewhat bigger, and easier for the larger birds.  I also put out suet. The most interesting was a Northern Harrier, sitting on our roof.  I went to my bird book, and found this is a rare bird.  It didn't come close to the bird feeders.  This one couldn't have easily gotten food out of the feeders anyway, and it flew fairly quickly.

There is a dead tree in the front of the house, which I covered with Hollyhock, a leafy vine and two different Clematis.  It also has a hole into the center of the tree, just big enough for two Flickers.  And so our tree became a Flicker nursery.

One of my favorite bird siting was when I was driving South and saw a huge Snowy Owl going the other way.  Snowy owls sometimes come South in the winter, but this was nearly summer. It was about five feet away, and the bird wasn't higher than where I was in my car.  I can see it still!  It was beautiful.

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