Birding Here, Birding There, Birds and Babies Everywhere

“Nature is ever at work building and pulling down, creating and destroying, keeping everything whirling and flowing, allowing no rest but in rhythmical motion, chasing everything in endless song out of one beautiful form into another.” ~ John Muir

From Winter To Spring

It’s spring migration, and WHEW. Glad that’s all over. Or not. I can’t decide.

It’s been hours since we enjoyed another first-comer to our yard — a Magnolia Warbler. It’s been another great beginning of the year for birding, though nothing like last year for accidental weirdos.

We always begin the year at our favorite spot: Brazos Bend State Park. Our largest daily tally for species at that park kicked us off for the 2018 counting year: 56 species. In the blah that is winter in Houston. WHOA.

American Bittern

American Bittern
Debonair

Vermillion Flycatcher

Vermilion Flycatcher
Surprise West Texas Bird!

Come spring, we saw two more birds for the first time ever at that park. The only time I’d ever seen a Yellow-breasted Chat before was when I came upon a dead one at a local taco shop some years back in — apparently due to a window strike. (Yeah, I’m the lady that takes pictures of dead birds to ID later. Don’t judge me.) After that, he’d only been heard every spring migration, never seen. If you listen to his distinctive sound, you’ll know why he’s called a ‘chat.’

(Incidentally, this species was just moved in iBird from the warbler family where he’s always weirdly been placed into his own unique class. Congratulations, you chatty little non-warbler!)

Finally, a beautiful living and present individual at our favorite local park, doing what he does in the wild .. and cooperative for me to shoot ta boot. After all that trouble, he went ahead and spent several days in our yard for me to chase for the first time as well. Fancy that. Reminded me of the Blue-headed Vireo of last year.

Yellow-breasted Chat

Yellow-breasted Chat
Brazos Bend State Park
Lifer!
(for me to see)

On that same day at BBSP, we saw a flash of a small bird fly from one side of the reeds to the other. Scott and I immediately and simultaneously said ‘RAIL’ looking for a Clapper or a Sora, this cute little Least popped his head out instead.

It’s nice to be wrong sometimes.

Least Bittern

Least Bittern
Peek-a-boo!

(If you’ll remember last year, we searched high and low for years for this guy and only just spied him after a fellow birder pointed him out. ‘Birding Effect’ at it again.)

Purple Gallinule

Purple Gallinule
Rainbow Rail

The Chase

When we went out to Colorado Springs in March, we had some fantastic close encounters with birds who were apparently already accustomed to human interaction. The kids thought this was the best vacation ever! We called our every-day hikes ‘breakfast with birds.’

Don’t let the greys of their feathers fool you — these guys were filled with colorful personalities.

Northern Pygmy Owl LIFER!

Northern Pygmy Owl
Trail Buddy — Twice in the same spot!

Pygmy Nuthatch

Pygmy Nuthatch
Picky Hand-feeder

American Dipper

American Dipper
Mate Displaying
(Not for me .. for the other lady in front of him!)

In spring, everyone sings, so birds (the males anyway) are easy to spot .. if you’re listening. A blind man could find this rambunctious guy.

Red-winged Blackbird

Red-winged Blackbird
Who Wants Meee! Conk-a-reeeee!

And there are the other passers-through that we can only see if we go where they are. We went as often as we could to the coast and carefully spied the trees and shorelines of refuges and nature preserves for the lovely migrants who stop in for food on their way up north.

Such a short window for so many beautiful species, it’s worth the frequent day trips to catch every one! It’s such a challenge counting and shooting that a few days we just went with our field glasses alone. Easier on the head (and neck).

Yellow-billed Cuckoo

Yellow-billed Cuckoo
Mr. Frowny Face

Philadelphia Vireo

Philadelphia Vireo
Lifer!

Gray-cheeked Thrush

Gray-cheeked Thrush
Patient Photo Subject

Acadian Flycatcher

Acadian Flycatcher
Irritating Photo Subject

Rose-breasted Grosbeak

Rose-breasted Grosbeak
Mulberry Tree Specialist

Black-throated Green Warlbler (F)

Black-throated Green Warbler
Photographer Calorie Burner

Bronzed Cowbird

Bronzed Cowbird
Makes Trash Cans Gorgeous

Ho Hum Magnificence

And back on the property, life goes on as usual for our regular yard birds. The Carolina Chickadees family have already fledged — there are six babies! — with Mom and Dad diligently (exhaustively?) keeping their noisy brood satisfied. Mr. Cardinal makes his rounds every morning; I can set my clock to him. Mr. and Mrs. Wren have built another nest on the back porch .. still waiting for eggs.

Birds and feathers aside, just today the matriarch deer gave birth to another fawn .. in our yard again, 3rd year straight. So, so very WOW. (That’s for another post, another day.)

Life is very, very good, peeps.

Northern Cardinal
He sings, ‘This yard ROCKS!’

Indigo Bunting
The Bird Bath
Spring Bluebird of Happiness

Related Links:

We have 237 bird species for the year.
What’s your number?

 

33 thoughts on “Birding Here, Birding There, Birds and Babies Everywhere

  1. What a lovely collection of birds, Shannon. I am sorry I missed this in May! I had not heard about the re-classification of the Chat, and I am still totally envious about your Pygmy Owl at Mueller! And the Bittern! And the thrush. And the vireo. And… 🙂

    Like

    1. Ah, but you didn’t miss it (previous comment). As for whose photos are better, sorry but you’ve definitely got me there. All I have is a 600mm lens to get me CLOSER—that is all. Your landscapes are positively dreamy. Thanks for coming by to comment again. Do it as often as you like!

      Liked by 1 person

  2. Awesome images, and I know you did some awesome happy dancing too! 🙂 Many of these birds I have never seen before, so I enjoyed even more. Thanks for popping over to my blog, Shannon, I was following you and haven’t been getting your posts. Following again today! And looking forward to photos of the new fawn, how awesome to occur in your backyard!

    Like

    1. Lots and LOTS of happy dancing! Going outside in any fashion makes me happy, though, Donna. Seeing pretty feathers is just a bonus. I do so love your blog and the things you post about. ‘Birds of a feather’ ya know .. LOL

      I’ll be posting this weekend about the doe and fawn. Today, my family celebrate my birth (so so long ago!) and last year I got the BEST birthday present — a fawn. This doe, a regular at our yard, seems to know that I enjoy these kinds of gifts better than wrapped pressies or dinner dine-outs. She makes me feel privileged!

      Liked by 1 person

  3. I’m just astonished that you actually see all these birds. I look at the trees and see — leaves. I did manage to spot a Baltimore Oriole this year, and a blue-gray gnatcatcher, so there’s that — and I do have a darned good photo of a scissortail to post. That was a first for me. I’m used to seeing them on the wires, at a distance, but didn’t realized how lovely they are.

    Your photos are fabulous. I always enjoy your posts, and learn so much from them. Thanks!

    Like

    1. I should take you birding with me some day Linda. It’s a fun exercise, like working a crossword puzzle, playing tennis, and winning bingo all at once!

      But I guess I’ll ‘see you’ at the meeting next week instead. Your comments keep me going. Cheers!

      Liked by 1 person

    1. I do love the red-wingeds they come by here though unless they’re in trouble (when food is scarce), so I guess I’m glad not to see them at home.

      What birds are you enjoying in central Texas? Any buntings grace your bird bath yet?

      Like

      1. Nothing too notable at home. We mostly get doves, blue jays, grackels, and cardinals. I did see a swallow on my drive out of the neighborhood this morning.
        My office has a nesting pair of red-shouldered hawks I’ve been watching since we relocated to this office building in October. The soap opera started with one lone hawk crying each day, then they dated, and now they most fly under the canopy such that I don’t see them as often.
        We also get little birds too fast in their flitting for my untrained eye to identify. Then there are the herons, cranes, and such sometimes. It’s a busy office window if you add in the deer, Armadillo, butterflies, and industrious rock squirrel.

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      2. What a delightful office window! Beats a windowless cubicle for sure. Perhaps a strategically placed set of binocular to ID those flirty types; it’s a great a great brain exercise, finding birds in the leaves. Have a wonderful spring!

        Liked by 1 person

  4. What a delightful birdarama! You’ve given us a perfect way to start a Saturday morning. Thanks so much, Shannon!
    Thought you might be interested in the sights and sounds that surround me as I reply here. The computer is on the kitchen table (well, actually it’s a desk), the door is a jar (no, it’s ajar), I have my new ears installed and am listening to a cacophony of bird calls for the first time in decades. 🙂 🙂
    Finches, cardinals and tiny bright yellow tweeters are at a bird-feeder in the oak tree over there. That there tree is 3-foot in circumference now, but I saw it shoot out from its acorn (a few years ago, of course). Frequent visitors over the years, Mr. and Mrs. Cardinal have introduced their newborn two sons and a daughter to the flocks.
    🙂 🙂 🙂

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Oh, thank you for that wonderful comment box narrative! Birds deserve so much more than our undivided attention, you know, to pay back the bottomless joy they bring to you and me. Glad you liked ‘em, and thank you, Bill, for being such a devoted fan to DirtNKids. 😀

      Liked by 1 person

    1. Aw, thanks Belinda. For the nice words and for sticking around while I get my stuff together. The birds are as good a reason as I can think of to be away from blogging so long!

      Liked by 1 person

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