Tuesday, April 6, 2010

Birds Returning

One of the most anticipated moments of spring in the north is seeing the seasonal birds return. Marking the dates when we hear the first sandhill cranes, or spot the first robin running through the new grass become ways to mark the end of winter. Those are the early birds, though, and for many weeks after we see our first robin, the rest of the summer residents begin to trickle in.

Lori and I were hanging out in my studio when she squealed and said there was an orange bird outside the window. I looked up expecting to see an oriole (too early!) when she finally managed to spit out that it was an eastern towhee!

I of course did not have my camera, but I managed to slip out without disturbing the bird and return to get a few shots. Then the chickens came around to the feeders and scared him off. I was excited though to have seen one so close! We hear them all summer long but rarely see one. Since I haven't yet heard one this year it could well be that this one is a recent arrival, tuckered out from a long flight and a little more bold as he searches for food.

Shortly after the chickens scared off the towhee, I saw a rusty brown bird drop down out of the pines and land near a scraggly juniper. My first thought was it was a thrush, but when I got the camera around on it saw this it was a fox sparrow.

Sparrows, along with warblers, can be difficult to identify. I am woefully poor at it, and usually need photos to look at and study to be able to id a bird. This one, however, is pretty distinct with its gray eyebrows and rusty stripes and chest patch.

He (or she) stood for quite some time by the juniper, looking around, then finally started moving closer to the studio.

Decent shot of the top of its head. This bird scratched around in the duff for a bit before it too flew off into the trees.

How nice to see two different birds returning for the season in one day. I'm going to have to keep my eyes open--and my camera with me--as the migration season gets into full swing!

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