Saturday, January 7, 2012

Winter: A great time to watch birds

English Robin
Winter is a wonderful time to watch birds. The leaves are off the trees which makes observation much easier (especially for this novice). Everyday this week I have been able to see a large red shouldered hawk puffed up, sitting in the oak trees behind my office in the Botanical Garden. He or she also make a great deal of noise as they watch the other birds and squirrels.
Every time I drive to and from my office n the Garden a mixed flock of birds fly up from the meadow. Recently my attention was captured by a bird with a bright white rump heading up into the trees from the meadow. Once it alighted in the woodland edge, it perched like a woodpecker. I saw this several times in a row, and eventually tried to figure out the identity of this intriguing creature. I asked myself "What kind of bird would be on the ground and then perch like a woodpecker?" Research (consultation with the Garden's Interim Director, Patrick McMillan) revealed that this bird was, in fact,a woodpecker, a Northern Flicker. Further research at Cornell's All About Birds website explained why a woodpecker would be on the ground in the meadow. The Northern Flicker eats main ants and beetles, digging them from the ground with its curved beak. Mystery solved!

I, of course, do not have pictures of the hawk and flicker -I was driving after all (you can see them a All ABout Birds). However, I did take some pictures while I was in England over Christmas of a couple of common and cheerful British Birds: a robin, and a blue tit.
Blue Tit

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