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Thursday, May 8, 2008

Come Fly With The South Sound Bird Nerd

I am certified wild bird lover, bird watcher, and all around bird nerd. I got hooked as a kid, by my bird loving parents, and many days were spent feeding and watching the birds in our back yard bird zone in Tacoma’s North End. However, what really solidified my interest is a beautiful escaped blue parakeet during my childhood.

My family spied a blue parakeet amongst the nuthatches in the alder trees in our yard. It was bizarre—we all thought we were seeing something that was imaginary at best, surreal at the least. But, it was true—the escaped (or released) bird mingled with the wild ones, eating food at our many feeders. We were worried about our fine blue friend and thought that it wouldn’t make it (the end of summer was nearing). So, my Dad came up with a humane “trap” that consisted of a large bird feeder that had a mechanism to pull down a tarp around it to try to catch the bird without hurting it. It was quite a family project! The key though was to lay in wait for the bird to come to feed, then a couple of us would pull the strings and the other two would try to get the bird safely. We were ready to rescue and we were serious.

Okay, it’s pretty easy to imagine how this project flowed. We came close once, but ended up trapping (and notably scaring) the other wild birds. And I am sure the neighbors thought we were a bit “bird-brained” (and we were, but having an adventure anyway). Our blue bird eventually disappeared and the contraption was converted to a normal feeder. But what lingered, is the fact that I learned lots about our local birds.

Today, nothing is more exciting to me than to spy a hummingbird at my feeder—I watch in absolute fascination. Is it an Anna’s Hummingbird? A Rufous Hummingbird? Is it male or female? Juvenile or adult? How often has it fed today? Where is it nesting?

Two very plump Robins gorge themselves on worms in my backyard. The thrushes and flickers poke around the yard, a very NOISY Stellar Jay makes his/her presence known. Last year, chickadees nested in our Hawaiian tiki-styled bird house (which was pleasing because out of the four birdhouses we own, the birds picked the coolest one). Nuthatches abound on the front lawn. On lucky days, mallards fly over the house, perhaps the V formation of Canada Geese, or on extra lucky days, bald eagles or herons glide over my rooftop. In the South Sound, there’s no better haven for bird watchers.

Bloggers/Readers: What flies in your neighborhood? What fine feathered friends do you see out your window?

9 comments:

Stephanie Frieze said...

We get robins and Steller's Jays, but my favorite are the crows. I know lots of folks don't like them, but they are so smart and help keep us picked up.

I had a weird experience a month or so ago at our house at the coast. I came out of the house to get my suitcase out of the car and seagulls were circling around in our little side street and then landing on the roof and fence of the house across the street. I thought of Alfred Hitchcock's The Birds came to find immediately. A couple of crows were in the frey (we have a crow tree behind a neighbor's house), but they landed in the street and stared at the gulls right along with me. It was very weird. There were back the next morning, but seem to have found other people to freak out.

Kim Thompson said...

Oh, how odd. Weird experience. When we were in Hawaii recently, I saw a bunch of wild turkeys. Apparently they go around in harems (one male, and about a half a dozen or so females). That was weird and they were weird. They came out of nowhere. Not quite Hitchcockian, though.

I think crows are interesting. They are survivors and they seem quite fearless.

EmeraldPrincessOnline said...

Directly out my window is a tree that is home to a veritable flock of robins. They provide continuous entertainment as they balance gingerly on the telephone cable that stretches across our backyard and proudly perch on the tree branches displaying the latest worm catch dangling from their beaks. The babies begin to chirp their sweet songs seemingly before the first visible rays of light each morning.

JosephMcG said...

There are crews of blackbirds that come hunting in my neighborhood in the early morning and the evening...
every now and then, some gaudily dressed robin comes parading around our second story windows...
some strange birds have decided to nest in the flu connected our two dryers in our laundry room
and out of the corner of my eye, every now and then I catch a humming bird hovering near our bird feeder...

just like this post, the birds are sooooo cool

Lorraine Hart said...

We have the purple martins back, white and gold-crowned sparrows, the hummers all around the back deck, the red-headed sapsucker and the flickers in the treeline...not to mention the smaller hawks, crows and ravens. Down by the water it's a beautiful combination every day...scoters, mallards, grebes, herons...and of course the stars of the show...the osprey and eagles. My spyglass, scope and bird book are always at the ready!

Kim Thompson said...

Hi Bloggers (or rather Birds of a Feather Flock Together)!

Emerald Princess, your robins sound delightful. Couldn't you just watch that all day and not get bored with it? Joseph, with your view, the birds much be super cool. And Lorraine, I know from personal experience, that your neighborhood is loaded with birds--it's a real treat to come over the bridge for me.

Right now I am sad that my little hummers (I have three different ones, all Anna's Hummingbirds, 2 females and one male) have not been by this afternoon!

Stephanie Frieze said...

Oh, Lorraine, how I eny your show!

Kris Assing said...

Surprised to see a pair of gray ringneck doves on my deck railing today. I think that's what they are,anyway. Has anyone else seen this type of bird? Is it a common bird here?
Also have a lot of flickers, woodpeckers, finches, grossbeaks, towees, tree swallows, junkos. I am becoming an enthusiatic birder!

Stephanie Frieze said...

Sometimes early in the morning, when I am out walking the dog before work, I hear woodpeckers and the occasional owl. It is joy to be greeted by the birds!