Thursday, February 25, 2010

My Winter Backyard Birds

Because the weather was so cold and snowy the birds were flocking to my bird feeder. After driving around to get the scenic photos, I decided to sit on the porch (with the propane heater running) to see if I could get some snowy day bird photos. We were expecting two more bands of snow, so i was hoping maybe I would be lucky and get some snowy branches or birds with snow flakes on them. While we did more snow, it didn't accumulate, but I enjoyed my time on the porch. And I was pleased with the bird photos I got.

We get tons of white crowned sparrows in the winter. The adults are easy to identify with those solid white markings.

The juveniles lack those prominent white head markings and for years I've had trouble distinguishing them from chipping sparrows. I've been sure the ones near my house have all been juvenile white crowns because they are always hanging around the mature ones. Experienced birders always scoffed because chipping sparrows are a lot smaller than white crowns. On this snowy day, I had a lot of different juveniles whose markings differed from one another just slightly. After photographing them, I pulled out both my Sibleys Guide to Birds and my Sparrows of the United States and Canada. After careful comparisons between the juvenile white crowns and chipping sparrows, I'm very confident that the ones I saw were all juvenile white crowns. I noted that chipping sparrows have a darker beak, only one white wing bar, and darker legs. My birds had yellow orange legs, two distinctive white wing bars, and yellow orange beaks in addition to being similar in size to the adults.

I don't know how many juveniles I had, but as I'm going through the images, I have many more juvenile images than adults.

I was especially happy that this Lincoln sparrow visited while i was out with the camera. I'd seen him in the yard and was pretty certain that I had the correct ID, but a picture confirms the identification so much better because you have time to study the markings in detail with a bird that is not hopping around and flying off.

He came back several times giving me several opportunities to get a good shot of him.

One of my favorite winter yard birds is the Harris Sparrow. He's one of the larger sparrows, but I love how the bright browns and blacks contrast against that very white breast. He has such distinctive markings that I find him easy to identify. With the males and females looking alike, it keeps the identification simple.

When I first starting watching the orange crowned warblers in my yard, they were sneaky. They would come in quickly to eat and fly quickly away so fast you couldn't get the details in the field marks. Today, they were hungry and stayed around long enough for me to get some good photos.

The day wouldn't be complete without the cardinals.

Also seen coming to the feeder, red winged blackbird females, northern mockingbird, brown headed cowbirds, and Carolina chickadees.


Henry said...

Beautiful birds'photos!

MiLa said...

Beautiful. You must have an awesome camera (and a great eye).

Mary Ann Melton said...

Thanks, Henry & MiLa! I love getting to watch my bird friends!