General Question

gailcalled's avatar

If you are a birder, what are some of your better recent spring sightings?

Asked by gailcalled (53600 points ) May 11th, 2014

I just saw my first rose-breasted grosbeak in a near-by pine tree. A good gift for mother’s day. The songs and calls are what usually alert me to look up, or in the woods, where I hear the plieated woodpecker drumming long before I see him. Do you often bird by ear?

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57 Answers

syz's avatar

I haven’t had anyone new or unusual, but the red shouldered hawks have babies!

My yard’s bird list: ruby throated hummingbird, mocking bird, cat bird, blue jay, brown thrasher, chickadee, titmouse, cardinal, brown-headed nuthatch, white breasted nuthatch, red breasted nuthatch, downy woodpecker, red bellied woodpecker, goldfinch, mourning dove, brown thrasher, robin, Eastern bluebird, red-shouldered hawk, Cooper’s hawk, barred owl, American crow, house finch, purple finch, Carlina wren, brown headed cowbird, dark eyed junco, Eastern towhee, cedar waxwing (occasional). Plus a number of sparrows, warblers, and finches that I am not knowledgeable enough to identify.

Not bad for a 1/5 acre lot (I am the only one in the entire neighborhood that puts out feeders, so I am Grand Central Station for birds.)

GloPro's avatar

I love this question and can’t wait for responses!

My favorite bird in my area is the Mountain Chickadee. Their call sounds like they are saying cheeseburger. It’s unmistakeable. Everyone just calls them the cheeseburger birds.

I have also been seeing several species of waterfowl pairing up. Males and females looking so drastically different means I’m usually not far from my bird books.

Coloma's avatar

I get the migratory Western Tanagers and Black headed Grosbeaks up from Mexico and Central America here in the spring.
Scads of Warblers, and Kingbirds, Thrushes, numerous species of Phoebes, and yes, I bird by ear. I have said this several times recently, but have been going nuts for about 3 weeks trying to get a visual on Western Tanager in the tree tops over here.
One of my most exciting sightings was a huge, Pileated Woodpecker some years ago.

I am also in the overlapping range for both Western and Mountain Bluebirds. I love the bluebirds that came to my birdbath for years.

GloPro's avatar

@Coloma Oh, how lucky to see a Pileated Woodpecker! I’ve always wanted to see one.

I also love seeing the bald and golden eagles here. And owls… I could go on and on and on.

Bird dorks unite!

gailcalled's avatar

I love to bird and I have never considered myself a dork. Why not a more complimentary term?

I have a resident pair of pileateds and always hear their drumming first. That alerts me to try to look for them even though I like just using my ears these days.

Coloma's avatar

@GloPro It was well remembered, considering I got the worst case of poison oak of my life too, running through the underbrush. haha

gailcalled's avatar

One trick for those of us in the northeast this week is to try to spot the returning warblers before the decidious trees leaf out and hide the small birds. We’ve got about three more days.

zenvelo's avatar

I saw a goldfinch yesterday at Pt. Isabel Park in Richmond CA.! And last week in Austin TX I saw a college of cardinals while walking in the Lost Pines outside of the city. We don;t see cardinals in California, so that was a treat.

The osprey came back to the local reservoir about a month ago, it’s re-affirming to see them carrying fish back to their nest.

Coloma's avatar

@gailcalled Warblers neck is so painful. lol

Coloma's avatar

@GloPro I saw a Bald eagle on the river here about a month ago, fairly rare for this area, but Golden eagles are pretty common. I also saw an Osprey dive into Silver Lake a few years ago and snatch a fish. That was SO cool!

thorninmud's avatar

I saw an American Redstart in my backyard this morning, a first for me.

marinelife's avatar

Woodpeckers always announce their presence. First, I saw the downy woodpeckers return for spring. Then, the pileated woodpeckers (Woody). A bird I can always identify by sound are the mourning doves, which I enjoy hearing call in the morning and the evenings. Lately, I’ve been enjoying seeing male cardinals. Seems to still be to early for the finches so far. I love watching birds.

Tropical_Willie's avatar

We have a nesting pair of Mississippi Kite. two houses down from our front door.
We have a Pileated Woodpecker that uses the roof as a sounding board for two or three weeks, a territory thing.

GloPro's avatar

When I was a very small child my father pointed out Blue Footed Boobies on a golf course on Bell’s Island, in the Outer Banks (Currituck Co., NC)
They are extremely rare to see, and apparently haven’t been seen for years in North Carolina.
My dad said that when he was a young man he played golf on that course many times. Apparently the Blue Footed Booby isn’t a smart bird, and it would often squat on golf balls. Maybe that’s why they disappeared from the OBX.

Coloma's avatar

I love any bird with flappy feet, blue, orange, pink…..a rainbow of flappy feet. haha
When my darling Marwyn goose was a baby I would make him run after me on the smooth concrete in my garage where his brooder box was…the pitter patter of slappy happy feet. Nothing cuter than little duckling,gosling feets!

Cruiser's avatar

I had a Baltimore Oriole raiding my hummingbird feeder the other day and of course hummingbirds. I had a UFO blue bird I am waiting to upload the pics to help identify. Gold finches and Cedar Wax Wings galore in the wetlands. I also have a mating pair of Mallards who have staked their claim to the bird feeder. The Bald eagle soaring above yesterday was very cool.

janbb's avatar

Red winged blackbirds

wildpotato's avatar

I just put my feeder up and have been seeing increasing activity every day. So far the rose-breasted grosbeak is my favorite. The American goldfinches are a riot; they chase each other all over the tree. And the chickadees are so cute – they’ve been gathering up my dog’s fur off the ground for nesting. I’ve also seen a chipping sparrow. Plus there was that up-close-and-personal robin encounter I had recently.

@gailcalled I’ll look up the local warblers and keep an eye out. I didn’t know that birding by ear is so common. My impression has been that to do the official cross-a-bird-off-the-list thing one is required to get a visual on the bird. But it certainly makes more sense to avoid the swamps and the poison oak if possible.

I’ve found myself hesitant to play the songs and calls on my computer because I’ve been told it disturbs the birds to hear these in a wild setting – and my house is definitely in wilderness. Is this a misconception on my part?

ARE_you_kidding_me's avatar

In my neck of the woods bald eagles Have made a comeback. I saw my first nearly ten years ago and could not believe what I was seeing. I see several every year now while I’m out running around the lakes and streams.

Cruiser's avatar

We just had a tornado warning alert and when I went outside to watch for the storm, I saw not one but two barn owls on my neighbor roof. Completely unprecedented sighting! Sooo COOOL!

Coloma's avatar

@Cruiser I bet they are on full Owl alert. haha Very Cool.
I have these tiny little Western Screech Owls ( Barn and Great Horned too ) and they are my favorites. One night a few summers ago there was 5 fledglings and the mama Owl all sitting on the branch of an oak tree off my deck. They were so cute, like little elves. lol

www.owlinstitute.org/western-screech-owl.html

LuckyGuy's avatar

Yesterday I saw the first orioles and catbirds of the season, and today I saw – and photographed – a green heron! That is a first for me!

Coloma's avatar

@LuckyGuy Oooh…lucky you!
I once made a blind and sat there for like 4 hours with nothing exciting happening.
My great safari into being a wildlife photographer. Screw that. lol

LuckyGuy's avatar

I have quite few pictures posted on my FB page. This is a great area for birds. We are right along a migration route. They rest and feed here before flying over Lake Ontario.

weeveeship's avatar

Saw a blue jay the other day.

gailcalled's avatar

@thorninmud: In Lake Placid we used to get lots of Redstarts during the summer. Once I had officially seen my first, I used their distinctive warbler song to ID them. Living in a camp at 1600 feet on the water and in the woods, chasing after it got me devoured by black flies. Ditto for the Blackburnian warbler.

Today brlings the added bonus of the astonishingly fragrant Korean spicebush (viburnum carlesii) being in bloom and perfuming the air around the house with the delicious scent of vanilla and cinnamon. Lilacs about to pop and peonies, irises and poppies due soon. This may be the most perfect four weeks of the year.

@wildpotato: True that you need one official unambiguous sighting for your lifetime list; after that you can use your ears. I cannot look up, it seems, without my mouth dropping open so have often swallowed black flies and mosquitoes on my visual quests.

@Coloma; I envy you your screech owls. However, the osprey doesn’t dive for fish; he plummets down, like a runaway elevator, and scoops up the fish with his talons. If the fish is too heavy, the osprey will labor for a while and then let it drop back into the water. They used to next around the summer camp I once owned on Lake Placid. Watching them replaced TV, which we didn’t have.

gailcalled's avatar

edit: not “next” but “nest”

Coloma's avatar

@gailcalled Yes, I guess I should have said swooped down and skimmed a trout right out of the lake. It was a spectacular moment.

Adirondackwannabe's avatar

My mother had an Indigo Bunting at her feeder yesterday. And a Baltimore Oriole.

Adirondackwannabe's avatar

@gailcalled I saw an Osprey swoop down on a fish on Mirror Lake and carry it off in it’s beak. I’m positive it was an Osprey and I clearly saw the fish in it’s beak. I was in Jimmy’s21 right by the lake.

gailcalled's avatar

Anything is possible, of course. Normal fishing for the osprey (and the bald eagle) is plummet, grab with talons and take-off, if the load isn’t too heavy. Maybe he had had an extra Adirondack beer?

(It’s its when you don’t mean It is.)

wildpotato's avatar

There’s a wood thrush outside my house right now. Thanks for telling me to look them up last week. Such a lovely song.

gailcalled's avatar

^^ Lucky you. Birders agree uniformly that the thrushes are the operatic divas of the avian world. Poets love them. You might also have the hermit. They often overlap (and possibly the veery).

The Darkling Thrush by Thomas Hardy.

I heard and then saw the male cardinal this morning.

Coloma's avatar

This morning at about 8 a.m. an owl of some sort was hoo, hoo, hooing in a big pine tree off of the back of my house. I couldn’t spot it to get a visual. I wonder what the ruckus was all about? Maybe it was a she and she was laying an egg? haha

Very interesting, never have heard an owl hooting in the morning.

Coloma's avatar

Okay….audio birders…here’s a challenge. Just NOW, 8 p.m., almost dusk here, sitting outside and hearing a very LOUD, in reps. of 5 calls, over and over again, no deviation….
tweet, tweet, tweet, tweet, tweet! Seriously…the stereotyped Tweet.
I have listened for 10 minutes straight, no visual. What could it be?

gailcalled's avatar

House sparrow song? Monotonous and incessant.

Coloma's avatar

@gailcalled No, it was *tweeet, tweeet, tweeet” not a chirp.
Driving me nuts!
It has stopped now because it is near dark.

Cruiser's avatar

@Coloma Warblers are famous for 5 tweets in a row.

gailcalled's avatar

Would the prothonotary warbler be that far west? It’s a SE bird. But maybe another warbler?

Coloma's avatar

@gailcalled Yes, I think warbler, my best guess too…not sure about the Prothonotary…sounds familiar…..I will research. Thanks! :-)

Coloma's avatar

@gailcalled I just listened to the Prothonotary call and it is remarkably acurate!
Research says they are rare vagrants in the west. California, most noteably. Hmmm…..hmmmmm.

GloPro's avatar

@Coloma Listen to the first call (not male mating song, but first call, just below) of the stellar jay. Also the third down.

I hear them all summer, 5 tweets in a row standard, loud and eventually annoying :-)
Aggressive little buggers, too.

marinelife's avatar

This morning a (I think) fledgling chickadee landed on my bedroom windowsill and cocked it head while I talked to it. It was right next to my head on the pillow.

janbb's avatar

I saw a little finch(?) on my deck and went right up to it, worried that it was sick. It flew away a bit later which was a relief.

Coloma's avatar

@GloPro No, but thanks anyway. I know the Stellars and Scrub Jays, this must be some sort of Warbler from my research. They are so small that it is really hard to get a visual on them up in the trees.

Adirondackwannabe's avatar

The Cornell Lab of Ornithology has a book and CD of all kinds of bird songs. It’s really good for identifying calls. We got one at Wild Birds Unlimited.

Cruiser's avatar

@Coloma This Page has all the warblers.

Coloma's avatar

@Cruiser Thanks..I’ll check it out. :-)

zenvelo's avatar

Last night sighting: as my son and I drove home, we saw a red tailed hawk being harassed by a dozen crows. He would bank and turn, they’d be in his face. He’d flap his wings but too many crows around him to get beyond them. The crows wouldn’t leave him alone; I imagine there were nestlings nearby.

gailcalled's avatar

I flushed a Baltimore oriole this morning when I was in the car. I got a view of it from the rear, a first for me. It has a bright orange rump surrounded by black on the tail and back. I also saw a large herd of sheep, newly sheared and looking like goats, and a lot of medium-horned cows, looking so shaggy that I thought at first they were bison.

Coloma's avatar

I tossed out half a container of stale Crasins and the Scrub Jays and one big Crow had a feast this morning. :-)

wildpotato's avatar

Bear broke my feeder :( It really sucks, I had just seen a female cardinal there for the first time yesterday. And we were going to put up another feeder for the hummingbirds that have started visiting my flowers, but now I guess that’s out of the question.

janbb's avatar

@gailcalled “a lot of medium-horned cows, looking so shaggy that I thought at first they were bison.”

Not Republicans?

gailcalled's avatar

@wildpotato.: I just consulted with my sister, who, with her husband, keeps17 been hives behind a serious electric fence on their property. They also keep, all summer long, several hummingbird feeders on their raised deck as well. She says that the bear attacks the bee hive for the larvae, and the honey is just a lagniappe, rather than his primary interest.

He has never gone after any of the hummingbird feeders, which are close to the bee hives. So she suggests that you put up more hummer feeders. She lives near you also, and agrees that a bear will leap tall buildings with a single bound to get to sunflower seeds but not sugar water.

In all of the many bee lectures they attend, no one has ever mentioned that bears drink sugar water.

@janbb:We;re hoping some of the medium-horned cows who do actually dream of well-being will run for office, feeling equal to the local Republicans.

wildpotato's avatar

@gailcalled That’s great news; thanks to you and your sister!

gailcalled's avatar

IF the bear comes for another reason and does collateral damage, my sister says you may blame her. She’s an easy drive from your ‘hood.

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