Thursday, February 25, 2010

Duckie and the Grackle at the Kemp

This evening I attended a program put on by Duckie and the Grackle (also known as Glenn and Cherie McBride) at the Kemp Center for the Arts to support Wild Bird Rescue. I really wasn't in the best frame of mind to go and almost missed it, but fortunately for me, I didn't.

I remembered the event at the last minute as I was attending another function--fortunately for me, someone asked me about it so I could dash over to the Kemp in time. Although there were some equipment glitches, the program by Glenn and Cherie was interesting--highlighting their art work, poetry and music. Additionally, some funds were raised to support bird rehab and education programs in our community. Best of all, the McBrides just seemed to be just very nice, interesting people.

Duckie and the Grackle will be at the Home and Garden Festival this weekend, so stop by their booth and let them know how much you appreciate their support for the birds (and buy some artwork!)

Good birding!

Wednesday, February 17, 2010

Wild Bird Rescue Event

In the Times Record News today (What's Cooking Section, page 4) there is an annoucement of a special event at the Kemp Center for the Arts to benefit Wild Bird Rescue. I haven't been able to find today's article on the TRN website so I am including the link to a shorter article from February 5. Today's may be posted later (or not.)

Anyway, here's the scoop:

Date: February 25, 2010
Time: 6 PM - 8 PM
Place: Kemp Center for the Arts
Who: Duckie and Grackle (wild bird painter/ceramist and poet/composer/author/potter)
Cost: Free
Activities: Book signing, art sale, silent auction, and multimedia presentation, "A Special Edition of What the Birds Have to Say"
Refreshments will be served.

Come support Wild Bird Rescue.

Good birding!

Monday, February 15, 2010

Great Backyard Bird Count Results

Had a great time (as usual) during the GBBC. I allowed myself to be lazy over the weekend, so I know I won't get out today to do any more counts. Payback time for work.

Anyway, my counts (remember that the methodology is to count the largest number of birds seen at one time, NOT the total number of bird seen):

Friday, Feb 12, Feeders:

Blue jay 4
Junco 21
Mourning dove 3
White-winged dove 22
House sparrow 6
House finch 9
Gold finch 7
Northern cardinal 3
Eurasian collared dove 2
Harris' sparrow 2
Orange-crowned warbler 1
White-crowned sparrow 3
Ruby-crowned kinglet 1
Field sparrow 1
Spotted towhee 1
Chipping sparrow 2

February 13, Lake Wichita, Chat trail and barrow pit

Great-tailed grackle 1
Double-crested cormorant 12
Northern cardinal 3
Ruddy duck 27
White pelican 4
Canada goose 2
Carolina wren 2
Red-winged blackbird 7
American coot 13
Pied-billed grebe 4
Northern Mockingbird 1
Robin 1
Bufflehead 2
Canvasback 7
Mallard 11
Ring-billed gull 6
Song sparrow 2
Blue jay 1
Bonaparte's gull 1
White-crowned sparrow 13
Red-bellied woodpecker 1
Meadowlark sp. 7
Great blue heron 1
Kestrel 1
Red-tailed hawk 1

Feb 14, Wild Bird Rescue, Lake Wichita (with Elizabeth Hawley, Terry and June McKee)

Great blue heron 2
Canada goose 2
White pelican 120
American coot 9
Ring-billed gull 6
Red-winged blackbird 2
Double-crested cormorant 42
Robin 1
Blue jay 2
Mallard 2
Cedar waxwing 22
Pintail 9
Bufflehead 1
House sparrow 2
Starling 3
Cooper's Hawk 1
Yellow throated warbler 1
Winter wren 1
Great-tailed grackle 1

Overall, I had a great time. As always.

Good birding!

Sunday, February 14, 2010

Saturday Along the Chat Trail

Saturday morning I stopped at the Chat Trail for the Great Backyard Bird Count (GBBC). It had dropped into the 20's overnight, so the snow was hard and there was a lot of ice. No way to sneak up on anything as the snow was crunchy, but a good morning anyway. I'll upload all of my GBBC sitings soon, but the special event was the hunting kestrel.

I heard a small bird's alarm call and looked around in time to see a small bird burst from the trees. A kestrel was in hot pursuit. A kestrel does pretty well in a sprint, and was gaining on the smaller bird, but the kestrel couldn't quite catch up with the little guy before he ran out of steam. The little bird got away.

I also almost put out my eye trying to take a picture of the nest pictured at the left. The grasses are woven together and wrapped around the branches to hold it in place. I have no idea what bird made the nest, but it is fascinating how different birds put their nests together.
Good birding!

Friday, February 12, 2010

GBBC Off to a Great Start

With the snow yesterday, I thought I would start the GBBC at home, watching my feeders. Good choice. In my first 45-minute count this morning, I had 4 blue jays, 21 juncos, 3 mourning doves, 7 white-winged doves, 3 house sparrows, 3 house finches, 7 American goldfinches, 2 cardinals, a Eurasian collared doves, a Harris' sparrow and an orange-crowned warbler.
Not bad. I'll be making periodic counts all day.
Good birding!

Thursday, February 11, 2010

Celebrating the Great Backyard Bird Count with Wild Birds Unlimited

The new Wild Birds Unlimited Store at Smith's Gardentown will be hosting a Great Backyard Bird Count (GBBC) event this coming Saturday, February 13 from 11:00 AM - 1:00 PM. Wild Birds Unlimited is a corporate sponsor of the GBBC.

Members of the North Texas Bird and Wildlife Club and Texas Master Naturalists will be on hand to talk about the count and how to participate and will also answer questions about birds and birdfeeding. I plan to be there.
Don't forget the GBBC at Wild Bird Rescue on Sunday 7:30 AM - 10:00 AM (times approximate)!

Good birding!

Snowy Day in North Texas

It started snowing about 6:45 AM and by 9:00 AM, this was the view out my back door. If you look very closely, you can see the American Goldfinch on the branch just above the post, getting ready to indulge in the black oil sunflower seeds in the tube feeder in the picture.
There were between 50 and 70 small birds on and under my feeders to the side of the house (juncos, sparrows, doves and finches, primarily).
I went out a bit ago to refill one of my suet feeders, but I can see that by lunch time all of my seed feeders will need to be restocked. I had planned a trip to Dallas today for a meeting and instead will be working at home and watching birds. Darn the luck!
Good birding!

Monday, February 8, 2010

Beavers and Buffleheads

The beavers are really going after the trees along the chat trail in Lake Wichita Park. I didn't see any beavers Sunday AM, but I saw lots of evidence they are in the area. It is not uncommon to see them in the drainage ditch along the Chat Trail.
When I arrived at the barrow pit, there were fewer ducks than usual for the winter although it was fun watching three male bufflehead ducks in their pursuit of a female. Obviously, birds are beginning to pair up before leaving for their nexting grounds up north. Three males were in hot pursuit of one of the females. I don't know what made her so special, as there were several females on the water, but I didn't see any courting activity toward any of the others. Anyway, when she flew a little ways, they flew. When she dived, they dived. When she was on top of the water, the three of them displayed. I could describe it as somewhat akin to head bobbing, but it wasn't exactly, as it involved their entire body--looked a little like "scooching." It would have been nice to have a video camera to capture it.
You just never know what you'll see on a morning's outing.
Good birding!

Saturday, February 6, 2010

Inca Dove Question

The other day Bob, from Wild Bird Rescue asked me if Inca Doves migrate. I told him I didn't think they did, as I see them here in the winter regularly. However, the two that normally feed at my feeders haven't been seen in several weeks. Bob said the flock of a dozen he has a Wild Bird Rescue routinely has been down to two or three.

When I am not sure about a bird question, I go to my trusty "Birds of North America Online," a subscription service from the Cornell Lab of Ornithology. They have a free resource I frequently link to in this blog (All About Birds) but the BNA has a lot more information. Anyway, there is no indication in the literature about Inca Doves migrating, in fact, BNA indicates the doves tend to stay put year around. However, there is prominent discussion of cold sensitivity in Inca Doves. We are on the northern edge of the Inca Dove range, and it has been unusually cold for longer stretches than normal this winter. Perhaps our doves have been casualties of the weather. I would hate that to happen--these diminutive dove are not that common now.

I did find some interesting information about the Inca Dove on BNA. Doves are among the first and last babies we receive at Wild Bird Rescue--the Inca dove rears up to 5 clutches a season of 2 babies each. However, BNA also notes many broods are lost to storms, wind and rain. If you have ever seen a dove's nest, that's easy to believe.

A subscription to Birds of North America Online is $40 a year; $25 if you are a member of the Texas Ornithological Society (TOS) also.

Good Birding!

Hunter at the Feeders

When I got up this AM, I had a bevy of birds at my feeders, especially doves. Among the doves, there were 10 white-winged doves, 1 lone mourning dove and 2 Eurasian collared doves. And then there were a dozen or so juncos, sparrows and finches. And then, suddenly, nothing. That happens occasionally--the birds get spooked and fly off, to start coming back almost immediately. That didn't happen; no birds came back for a couple of minutes. That usually means a predator is in the area.

Sure enough, a Cooper's hawk flew past the window and landed a tree in the front of the house. He sat there for a few mintes and then went across the street to a tree. Another Cooper's hawk then flew over the area. A Cooper's would love to have a white-winged dove, and I have a few to spare, so I wish them luck.

Good birding!

Monday, February 1, 2010

Purple Martin Scouts South

I noticed on the TEXBIRDS listserv the last couple of days postings of the first purple martin scouts in Austin. It seems crazy, when it has been so cold, but we generally start seeing martin in mid-February, so start watching if you are putting up a martin house.

If you are interested in learning more about purple martins, check out The Purple Martin Conservation Association.

Good birding!