Posted by: platmap | February 2, 2009

Birds In My Yard

So many birds have started coming to my back yard that I have started keeping a list of them. I suspect but cannot prove that they come to my yard and not my neighbors’ yards (much) because I do not treat with insecticides and herbicides.  Also, some previous homeowner decades ago put in a few berry-producing  plants and trees that some species seem to like.

Sunday February 1, 2009

1.  Common Flicker (Colaptes auratus). One male individual, probably part of the mating pair that has nested in a craggy old tree here for the past several years. Have not seen or heard the female yet.

2.  Brown Thrasher (Toxostoma rufum). One individual, the first I have seen here. Western North Carolina is within the Thrasher’s breeding range, but they normally are not resident here year round.

3.  Cedar Waxwing (Bombycilla cedrorum).  Over 30 individuals clustered like grapes along the branches of berry-producing shrubs and trees. Some individuals lacked red tips on their secondaries and therefore probably are last season’s juveniles.

4.  European Starling (Sturnus vulgaris). Two individuals with heavily speckled winter plumage and dark bills. The hid in the brush, but also foraged freely on open ground, walking rather than hopping like a robin.

5.  Lincoln’s Sparrow (Melospiza lincolnii). One individual flitting through fallen leaves and foraging along the edges of the yard. Smaller than a Song Sparrow or Fox Sparrow. More tawny than a Savannah Sparrow.

6.  American Robin (Turdus migratorius).  More than 30 individuals of both genders foraging mostly on the open ground, but also eating berries from shrubs and trees from time to time, alongside the Cedar Waxwings. We haven’t seen many robins lately, but suddenly there are masses of them.

7.  Downy Woodpecker (Picoides pubescens).  One individual male cruising the tree trunks and branches. Smaller than a Hairy Woodpecker, but very similarly marked.

8.  American Crow (Corvus brachyrhynchos). 5-8 individuals visiting at various times through the day, often together.

9.  Northern Mockingbird (Mimus polyglottos). A number of individuals, many of them already flying and playing in apparent mating pairs.

Monday February 2, 2009

1.  Pileated Woodpecker (Dryocopus pileatus). A male individual systematically testing the trunks and large branches of every tree in the yard. Stopped for a long time at a wild cherry tree I know to host a colony of carpenter ants (I need to do something about that colony before it buds off into my house). I always forget how magnificent Pileated Woodpeckers are.

2.  Red Headed Woodpecker (Melanerpes erythrocephalus).  Although these are resident in this area year round, I never have seen one before. This adult individual arrived only minutes after the Pileated Woodpecker above, but lingered on a Carolina Hemlock rather than the wild cherry.

3.  More American Robins, foraging as they did yesterday.



  1. You should check out our friend John’s website: He’s a retired ornithology professor from CMSU and has an amazing collection of photography. He and his wife Gina built their own home in the woods outside of Warrensburg which they ran as a B&B until Gina became ill. Now that he’s retired, they travel the world studying birds and taking photos. Very special people…

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