Wednesday, July 30, 2008

Bird Days on the Shellpot Creek

Every so often it seems that a large number of birds and a large variety of birds visits the bird feeders in the backyard near the creek all at once. I try to take pictures and identify them, but I am not very good at being fast enough, or steady enough and the camera is not all that great.
I saw but did not get a picture of a Red-bellied Woodpecker. The description is funny in that it says that rarely can you ever see the red-belly, and the most obvious markings are a red head and black wings with spots. I wonder who named it? I saw a juvenile fly through and peck at some trees. The young do not have as red a head, more brownish. After that an adult came through and you could not mistake it for anything other than a woodpecker. I have been seeing and hearing these birds all summer, yet I have not been lucky enough to get even a bad picture.

I saw and documented with a blurry picture my first blue jay of the season by the creek in the backyard. I see blue jays all the time, just not in my own private bird sanctuary.

We have a lot of cardinals (Northern Cardinal) that feed at the feeder and at the seed that falls on the ground. The males are the showy red ones, while the females are more brown and drab, but you can't miss the orange seed breaking beak. Often the males chase each other and solitary males are often following or being followed by several females.

There is a little blue bird that often runs up and down the side so of the trees, sometimes upside down. I figured that it was an insect eater of some sort and after hunting through the bird books have decided it is a White-Breasted Nuthatch. The photos, blurred by its movement, seem to support that identification, as does the description of its behavior.

White-Breasted Nuthatch moving up the tree

Travelling sideways

Hopped to another tree.

The book I am using lately to identify these birds is the Smithsonian Birds of North America by Fred J. Alsop III, but I do also like the Peterson's guide to Eastern Birds and for a closeup of Delaware I use Birds of Delaware by Gene K. Hess, Richard L. West, Maurice V. Barnhill III, Lorraine M. Fleming which doesn't have photos, only hand drawings, but is a comprehensive list of birds and even data on number of sightings, nests and locations. For me it is important not only that the picture match, but that the bird has been seen in my area at the correct time of year and that the behavior matches. Still it is nice to try to get a picture.

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