[Tweeters] Notes from Roy - 3-31-2009 - Turkey Vultures, Puddle Ducks, and more

Denis DeSilvis avnacrs4birds at q.com
Tue Mar 31 15:20:18 PDT 2009


Quite breezy today, with lots of trees, especially the Douglas-firs, getting
wind-pruned. Had another one-third-inch of rain last night and today, which
brings the total for the week to over 2 inches here - and the wetland behind
the house, as well as that across the road, are at the highest levels since
the "big wet" of December. Lots of puddle ducks (MALLARDS, GREEN-WINGED
seen across the road. I scoped the area, but didn't see any diving ducks -
this is usually the only time of year I see them.

While I scoped the ducks, across the street the first two TURKEY VULTURES of
the year here got blown about in the wind. A pair of WESTERN BLUEBIRDS were
in an apple tree under the vultures, and a late (for here) NORTHERN SHRIKE
is still with us.

I managed to count the FOX SPARROWS feeding out back this morning: 6 of
them, along with 14 GOLDEN-CROWNED SPARROWS and 4 SONG SPARROWS. The
DARK-EYED JUNCO count is down, and I think about 20 are still here (probably
an undercount). Eight RED-WINGED BLACKBIRDS and about 30 MOURNING DOVES kept
the front ground-feeding-area pretty occupied early on. TREE SWALLOWS are
definitely in, and checking out the nest boxes, but I've not seen the local
population of Violet-green Swallows as yet, although some have passed
through. (The inch of snow we had Saturday afternoon/evening really kept the
swallows away Sunday morning.)

The CALIFORNIA QUAIL have mostly, it seems, paired up, with what I think are
something like 5-6 pairs feeding out back most days. Out in the wetland, I
enticed a VIRGINIA RAIL to respond on Friday, but thus far, no SORA.

On the raptor front, a female NORTHERN HARRIER is staying around, as are
both sexes of what may be an AMERICAN KESTREL pair. I've seen RED-TAILED
HAWKS at both local nests, but nothing sitting as yet.

Many more PURPLE FINCHES are singing, and I've heard HOUSE FINCHES a few
times (more of the former here than of the latter). PINE SISKINS fluctuate
numbers, with about 15 here most days. At least two EVENING GROSBEAKS
remain, and are seen or heard every day.

Speaking of Evening Grosbeaks, I had an interesting occurrence a couple of
weeks ago that I failed to report. One of the local feral cats killed an
Evening Grosbeak, and I managed to chase the cat off. (I've since trimmed
the low-hanging Douglas-fir branches out front, which keeps the cats from
sneaking up on the ground-feeding birds, but which also allows the wind to
sweep through - it was quite weather-protected before, but too deadly for
the birds. And please don't start the dreaded "cat thread.") I brought the
grosbeak body behind the house - intending to show it to my wife - and
placed it atop the hose reel while I filled the feeders out back. The local
Douglas squirrel was on top of the woodpile, eating some sunflower seeds I
put there. The woodpile is about 10 feet from the hose reel. When I got back
to the house, less than 10 minutes later, I looked for the grosbeak body,
but it was gone! All that I found were several feathers in the wrapped-up
hose, and a few more feathers at the edge of the woodpile. And no Douglas
squirrel in sight. I discussed this with Shep Thorp (a veterinarian who's
part of our Wednesday Nisqually walkers), and Shep thought that the protein
and calcium would be what the squirrel was after in the form of dead
grosbeak. Sounds likely, but I didn't see the squirrel take it. Anyway, it's
definitely something I'd not see before, even though I know Douglas
squirrels also raid bird nests.

That's all for now - and back to work outside for me..

May all your birds be identified,

Denis DeSilvis

Roy, WA

Mailto: avnacrs4birds at q.com

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