For my first blog of 2015 (hopefully there will be more, hahaha!), I'm posting about a topic that I've had in mind for some time, and that I care a lot about: Birds. That sounds like a pretty broad topic, but I'm going to limit it to birds I've come to know since moving to North Carolina, specifically the ones which visit our feeding stations, and even that is a fairly extensive list. And THERE WILL BE PICTURES! (I have taken some photos, but for this purpose I am going to use images scavenged from Google.)
The bird I want to start off with is the bird that instantly caught my eye during my first visit to Hillsborough, North Carolina. The Northern Cardinal:
I had never seen one in my life, though they are present in parts of Canada, just not the part I come from. Males and females are very striking. They have gorgeous, liquid songs.They are very prolific at the feeders, cracking open sunflower seeds with their beaks. Their very strong beaks: a much younger Lucas managed to get hold of a male once, and I heard a huge amount of squawking, went outside to see what was up, and had to rescue the bird. For my efforts, that bird bit me HARD, amazingly hard, three times. It was incredibly painful and completely unexpected. My sweetie had to shout at me to let it go, and I tried, but it was hanging on! Finally, I managed to toss it out of our yard, and my sweetie laughed and laughed at me, and said if a bird doesn't need to be saved, it's going to let you know.
Then there is the Tufted Titmouse:
They are much smaller than a Cardinal, and more skittish. They swoop in to the feeder, grab a seed or peanut, and then scram to the nearest branch to crack the seed open.
The Carolina Wren is one of my favourites:
A feisty little bird with a HUGE voice. The first time I heard one of these, I had no idea what was making that sound. When I saw it was this tiny little feather puff, I was astonished. They hop and flit about, and go absolutely everywhere in search of food, seeming curious and courageous at the same time.
Then there's the Carolina Chickadee:
Similar to the Black-capped Chickadee, but with a slight variation in colouring, difficult to distinguish without looking close. Many people are not even aware of Carolina Chickadees, even here in North Carolina, calling all Chickadees, Black-capped. Here you can see the differences, Black-capped on the left, Carolina on the right:
Another of my favourites, again one I'd never seen until coming here, is the Eastern Bluebird (female top, male bottom):
It's been very startling at times to see such vibrantly coloured birds, even now, when I've been here for three years. I constantly marvel at them, and these birds are very common here, they are everywhere. They only visit the feeders for suet, since they are insect eaters. In the spring they show up more often, since they have young to feed, and will bring them by once they have fledged.
I've also seen a Mountain Bluebird once:
He hung around the feeders one spring for a couple of days early each morning. Then he was gone. I've never forgotten how shockingly blue he was.
Other birds, which come and go throughout the seasons:
People sometimes get those last two confused, but the Purple Finch is often described as "a sparrow dipped in raspberry juice."
There is also the Goldfinch, another of my favourites:
They are very common in the spring and summer, not so often in the fall and winter. They have the prettiest little song, and they will congregate in groups at feeders. It is quite the sight.
Very conspicuous little birds, who usually scoot down a tree trunk, as opposed to up. They also often feed upside down.
There are Dark-eyed Juncos, more common in the winter:
Eastern Towhee. When I first saw one of these, I actually said out loud, though no one was around, "Whoa! What the hell is that?":
Blue Jays, Crows, and Mourning Doves come to the feeders:
Also, Downy Woodpeckers and Red-bellied Woodpeckers, who come to the suet, bark butter, and peanut feeders.
The Red-bellied woodpeckers often bring their youngsters once they've fledged to the peanut and suet feeders, and then those youngsters will continue to visit as they mature. It's pretty cool.
I saw an Eastern Whip-poor-will once, in one of the raised planters:
They really do blend in that well. I didn't see the one in the planter until I was practically on top of it, and then it burst out and flew off.
And Baltimore Orioles, males and females (it may be the same pair I see), come by several times a year, no matter the season, always for suet and bark butter:
And finally, one of the coolest birds: the Northern Mockingbird:
Mockingbirds only show up at the feeders during the winter months, and then only for suet and bark butter. I've had one occasionally pop into the platform feeder and grab a few shelled sunflowers seeds, but it's rare. They have gorgeous, varied songs, and are very attractive, athletic, and sometimes aggressive birds.
And that's pretty much it for unique birds that I've come to know since arriving in Hillsborough, North Carolina. Maybe it doesn't seem like a big deal to some, but to me, birds are amazing, beautiful, and fantastic creatures, and I, for one, love them, and do not take them for granted. Perhaps some day I will post about some of the other birds I've seen around the area and the state. For now, I think this is enough.
Thanks for reading!