Winter birds of Eastern WA

I’ve just returned from the fabulous three day field trip to Eastern Washington lead by Stefan Schlick.

I’m going to try and stick to chronological order.

On our way there we stopped at Cashmere to have a quick but excellent look at Acorn Woodpecker (Melanerpes formicivorus):
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Winter birds of Eastern WA

I’m not a lunch!

I could have missed the drama that unveiled in front of my eyes two years ago if not for Pine Siskins and Red Crossbills.

Yep, two years ago siskins were frequent visitors to our backyard, and crossbills would show up from time to time, always a joy. When was it last time I saw them on our feeders?..

Anyways, it was a normal February day.  Very dark, rainy and COLD. One of those days when you really don’t want to photograph, but rather just seat home and watch busy outside life through the glass doors to your deck.

There were year round residents – chickadees, nuthatches, juncos, sparrows, and then large flock of siskins and crossbills came.

Not everyday one sees crossbills just 12 feet away. Gotta at least to try and take a dissent photo, I thought, then sighed, and reached for my camera.

Carefully I opened the door, moved the chair close and stack my camera out…

I didn’t shoot once. Tens of wings made a frou-frou sound and all the birds disappeared! A second ago the air was filled with voices and now it went eerily quiet.

Not a soul,,. But wait! From the corner of my eye I notice a red spot on the black feeder pole, under the squirrel baffle:

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Downy Woodpecker, Picoides pubescens!

Continue reading “I’m not a lunch!”

I’m not a lunch!

Merlins bonanza, p.2

Part 2 – It is fun to have fun but you have to know how

Not just young Merlins play with each other but they interact with other species too. Here, look how they share their favorite tree with young Steller’s Jays.

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Photo & Video Sharing by SmugMug

OK, maybe they don’t share it voluntarily:) But they don’t seem to mind much either.

I love corvids, so watching Merlins/Jays play was a special treat for me!

The Jays are as young as Merlins are. They tease, they chase, they do what kids do – show off in front of their buddies.

“Look at me! Look at me! Look at me now! It is fun to have fun but you have to know how!” (The Cat in The Hat by Dr. Seuss)

Continue reading “Merlins bonanza, p.2”

Merlins bonanza, p.2

Merlins bonanza, p.1

Part 1 – Shoreline fledglings

Not that long ago I had no idea that I could watch Merlins (Falco columbarius) here, in Seattle. It turned out, they breed successfully in the urban area. Barbara Deihl has been monitoring them for 6 years now. And this year there was at least 6  nest sites  in general Seattle area only. She kindly directed me to some of them where young Merlins (or Merlinetts, how Barb passionately calls them) could be viewed at the moment. Thanks a lot Barb! I had a wonderful time.

When these small falcons fledge they don’t leave the nest site immediately. They hang around playing, learning to fly, to catch prey, and providing excitement to the neighborhood. Yes, it’s difficult not to notice them because they’re noisy. When I got out of my car in Shoreline last week I didn’t have to go round the blocks in search of the Merlins. I just followed the loud KEE-KEE-KEE.

I believe, the best way to learn anything is to have fun in the process.  What a treat to watch playing birds!

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Continue reading “Merlins bonanza, p.1”

Merlins bonanza, p.1