Happy Winds-day

It isn’t really particularly windy out, but I couldn’t think of a better title for a Wednesday morning post. So that’s what you get.

    Happy Winds-day, Piglet.

               Happy Winds-day, Pooh.

I’m glad I put on an extra LL Bean sweater underneath my wind jacket before Amy & I set off this morning. It’s “cold and damp,” as the radio man put it this morning. The wind is coming off the water, so it’s making everything in its path cold and damp too. We walked up to the restaurant Louis’ Crossing just to prove we could (the direct route; half a mile), and then walked back the scenic way (along the water; .7 mile) just because we could. I figured we’d get in a decently long walk before the rain and possible thunderstorms come along, and ruin our dinnertime walk.

Over the last couple of weekends, Jim & I have been relocating our bird-feeding operation to the front yard, because in the backyard, Miss Amy took it upon herself to clean up whatever the birds and squirrels dropped, like dried corn and teeny little seeds. This was a pain, so we moved the feeder to a shepherd’s hook in the front. The squirrel bungee didn’t attract any squirrels, and the “kob” attached to it melted in the rain, so last weekend we got a second style of bird feeder for the other half of the hook instead. So now we have a suet cage and a regular feeder filled with seed. The upside to this is that now the birds are attracted to a place where we can see them, sitting on the porch of an evening and watching them at the feeder, or warily approaching the feeder, or circling the feeder by hiding in the bushes but never approaching (I’m looking at you, Blue Jay. I saw you hiding in the front bush, watching the action.).

The upside of that, of course, is the new birds we’ve gotten to see just in a few days. A male and female Grackle, the male on Saturday, the female on Sunday evening, probably the Bronzed type, the male having the typical iridescent head but being quite dull and brownish, even on an overcast day, and the female being extremely bronzed; and to my great joy this morning, the male half of a pair of House Finches. We had been watching the female, small but adventurous, bopping around the ground underneath the feeder since Saturday, and had admired her bold and unusual striping, but as usual it’s difficult to identify the bird just by the female (she could have been almost any stripey female finch). However, just this morning when Amy & I got back from our walk, there was the little red-headed male sitting on a wire between our house and the next-door neighbors’, just minding his own beeswax. The bright plumage of the male allowed me to grab my trusty National Geographic Field Guide to the Birds of North America, Exclusive Edition that was sitting right inside the door from my attempt to ID the female over the weekend, and ID the little sucker, and then I went to the website for the Cornell Lab of Ornithology for some more pictures and a recording of the House Finch’s song. Because I’m home most of the day, I hear a LOT of birdsong. (This is also in part how I confirmed the ID of the Grackle, which I will also call “the rusty screen-door bird.”)

So, let’s recap our flora and fauna (and avia?):

Brant Goose*
Ring-billed Gull*
Herring Gull*
Red-winged Blackbird* (the Station 51 bird)
Northern Cardinal*
Blue Jay*
Black-capped Chickadee*
Northern Mockingbird
Great Egret*
American Robin*
Yellow-shafted Northern Flicker*
Double-crested Cormorant
Least Tern
Glossy Ibis
Mourning Dove*
Little Blue Heron
Sharp-shinned Hawk
Ruddy Turnstone
Canada Goose
Goldeneye (Common or Barrow’s?)
Bronzed Grackle (the rusty screen-door bird)
House Finch

I put an asterisk next to the birds I have seen so far this year that I also saw and identified last year. I’m sure some of these folks I won’t see until the summer breeding season, or until next fall and winter when they come “south” or are on their way much farther south for the winter (hello, Ruddy Turnstone!). The winter is hanging on with a vengeance, and though we are getting our April showers, the temperature is stubbornly staying in the 40s. Most of our spring and summer residents are probably firmly staying put in whichever warm place they’ve wintered over, waiting for it to be pleasant again. And I don’t blame them.

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