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Great Backyard Bird Count - 2015

Skybird - z5, Denver, Colorado
7 years ago
last modified: 7 years ago

Great Backyard Bird Count - Cornell

Hi all,

It’s that time of year!
I know I’ve gotten a couple of you interested in The Birds over the
years, so I’m gonna try it again this year!

Starting tomorrow, Friday, and thru Monday, is this year’s
Great Backyard Bird Count! It started
out being just in the U.S. and Canada, but last year it included the WHOLE
WORLD! There’s an “interactive” map, and
if you choose to you can watch your report “light up” on the map when you enter
it. Last year I entered mine late at
nite, so I knew for sure it was “my” dot lighting up in Denver when I submitted
a report! And I thought it was really
interesting to see how many places, all around the globe, were “reporting”
their birds. Found a couple tiny islands
that I had to go to google maps to try to figure out what they were!

Anyway, here’s the Basic Info about what you need to do if
you want to participate! It’s copied
from the GBBC site that’s linked below

“Count birds for at least 15 minutes on one or more days of
the GBBC. You can count for longer than that if you wish! Count birds in as
many places and on as many days as you like—one day, two days, or all four
days. Submit a separate checklist for each new day, for each new location, or
for the same location if you counted at a different time of day. Estimate the
number of individuals of each species you saw during your count period.”

Simple enough! I
“count” from where I sit by my computer in my family room—I can see all my
feeders and my birdbath from here! But
you can go out in your yard, or count on a walk—anywhere, or look for some
designated “bird hike” place… Anywhere!

The page linked below has all the info you’d want/need to
participate. If you haven’t registered
before you will need to register to be able to report what you count—but no
spam, and you can opt out of any/all of the Cornell/eBird emails if you want to! The link on the right to “Bird Lists” will
allow you to see/print a list of the birds in your area, which makes
identification easier if you’re not familiar with which ones are around you.

One year I had FOURTEEN robins at my birdbath during the
count—in FEBRUARY! It was almost like
they planned it that way to be sure they’d be counted!!!

Counting helps the birds, because Cornell is “tracking” them
to help figure out if their populations are declining or increasing, to try to
help them before it’s too late if something seems to be “going wrong.”

If anyone has any questions, I’ll do my best to answer them!

Hope some of you will decide to participate this year,


Comments (36)

  • david52 Zone 6
    7 years ago

    Yesterday, on the other side of the fence a feral cat was stalking a mouse or something in the tall grass. And out of the blue comes some massive red tailed hawk and nails the cat, and within a second, another big red tail shows up and they start aerial fighting about 5 feet off the ground. And then a third, smaller hawk shows up, I dunno what species, and then all three start soaring and diving at each other for the next 5 minutes. Pretty darn cool.

  • Skybird - z5, Denver, Colorado
    Original Author
    7 years ago

    Wow, David! Wish I had been able to see that--and so close! I've had a yellow flicker around here in the last week or two, and they're pretty amazing to see, but nothing like watching three hawks at the same time! I envy you!


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  • pondgardener
    7 years ago

    Thanks for the reminder about the bird count. I mostly attract large flocks of white-winged doves around the pond, but there was a flicker or two along with the numerous sparrows, juncoes and finches. Unfortunately the dove population was reduced by one by a sharp-shinned's amazing how all the birds in the neighborhood just disappear while the hawk sits on the metal fence line. With all this warm weather we have been having, the counts should be pretty high this year.


  • ZachS. z5 Platteville, Colorado
    7 years ago

    Thanks for this Skybird! I love "citizen science" and many cannot imagine the immeasurable amount of good it has done for our wildlife! I will definitely be participating!

  • ZachS. z5 Platteville, Colorado
    7 years ago

    Went out and did my bird count today! Mostly, I only saw waterfowl, and judging by the activity at my mother's bird feeders, most of the "perching" birds haven't started to migrate back through yet. I did get some pictures though!

    A flock of small Canadas, sometimes called "lesser Canadas" (we call them "chickens" when we're out in the blind). For a long time, I held the belief that there were two main species of Canada goose, the greater (sometimes called "honkers", the big guys), the lesser (medium size birds), and a generic term, cacklers which includes all the smallest kind of Canada goose. As it turns out, "lesser Canada" is actually a misnomer of cackler goose, which is is blanket term for all subspecies of Branta hutchinsii, the smallest of which is only slightly larger than a mallard duck! Ornithologists don't even use the term "Canada goose" to describe anything besides B. canadensis, the big honkers, despite the fact, other than size, they are virtually identical. (By the way, there is no such thing as a "Canadian" goose, at least not in the U.S. They all become American once they fly over the border, though, they are still Canada geese ;)) And that's probably far more than you ever wanted to know about geese of ANY kind!

    Here is an American widgeon, what the old timers I've hunted with call a "bald pate" because of the white stripe down the middle of his head makes him look bald!

    ^^ These are butterballs,or buffle heads. Boy, these guys are hard to get a picture of, though, I try every single year! It seems that just as soon as you snap the shutter, they've vanished under the water! They also like to hang out in the middle of the lake or pond, where they dive to the deepest part to get their food. Being what are called "divers," (which include these guys, golden eyes, canvasbacks, red heads and many more) they almost never come to the shore, feeling much more at home on the big open expanses of large bodies of water, though, they are pretty common on smaller ponds during migration seasons here as well. "Puddle" or "dabbling" ducks, on the other hand (which are you mallards, widgeons, and gadwall type ducks) are the guys who you see with their butts sticking up as they feed on the weeds and mud critters in shallower water. Notice how the buffle heads in the picture have to get a "running start" to take off flying, classic diving duck characteristic!

    This is pretty cool picture (I thought) of a red winged black bird just before he zoomed out of my lens. I have yet to master the art of capturing birds in flight, but this is about as good as any I have taken. I know far less about these than I do waterfowl so I won't bore you with stupid facts about him!

    And this guy here I found on my way home eating something (probably a snake or a little songbird). I THINK he's a young Coopers hawk, but once again, my expertise in birds is limited to ducks and geese.

  • ZachS. z5 Platteville, Colorado
    7 years ago

    Oh I forgot this one, its called a Chickenus chunkybuttis. Shes doing some fertilizing and early pest control in the tomato bed. You think Cornell will count it? Haha

  • Skybird - z5, Denver, Colorado
    Original Author
    7 years ago

    All About Birds - Hawk Page

    Zach, if you find a place on the form to report your C. chunkybuttis,
    let me know! (But I won’t hold my

    Cool pics! Thanks for
    posting them! I can’t say that I love
    redwing blackbirds—but I DO love that pic!
    [I have a Blackbird Dispersal System at my birdfeeders—that I can
    “operate” from where I sit inside!]

    I don’t know anything at all about water birds, so most of
    what you posted is WAY over my head! But
    all your pics are great! I’ve never
    really checked this out, but I believe the GBBC has a photo contest—you should
    check it out! The colors are amazing in
    the American widgeon pic! Love it!

    I have trouble telling hawks apart, so can’t be sure what
    yours is. I’ve linked the “hawk” page on
    All About Birds—the best online Bird Book I’ve found. And if you ever want to for sure identify a
    raptor you have a pic of, I have the name of a “hawk” guy here in DEN that can
    probably tell you “what it is!” He
    identified the Red Tail I got a pic of on Wetherill Mesa at Mesa Verde.

    Not much luck for me with the count yesterday or today! But I was in and out of the yard yesterday,
    so not surprised that I saw very few then.
    Today I intentionally stayed in, and had a few more, but I’m virtually
    certain Monday is gonna be my best day!
    I get WAY more birds when there’s snow on the ground than I do when it’s
    warm out. And I have a defrosted
    birdbath too, so that helps bring ‘em in when it’s cold! Need to get my suet filled up again. Had a red Flicker today, but am hoping the
    yellow one shows up sometime tomorrow or Monday! And if it snows I’ll probably get a bunch of
    Juncos, which I rarely see when I don’t have snow!

    ANYBODY ELSE willing to give at least 15 minutes of your
    time to “help count the birds?”


    P.S. Pretty sure
    there’s nowhere on that form to report me either!!!

    P.P.S. I just checked
    one of my “real” bird books and I think you could be right about the Cooper’s
    Hawk! I was also thinking possibly a
    Prairie Falcon, I’ve seen those before, but the Cooper’s pic looks closer!

  • ZachS. z5 Platteville, Colorado
    7 years ago

    Nope, no place for it, as surprised as I was!

    Last year, we had lots and lots and lots of the RRBB at the feeders. The females especially were very aggressive and chased off all the other birds. Only the brave little chickadees hung around. But, the the red wings would only stay for about a half hour or 45 minutes, then they'd go back to the cattails where they nest every year.

    This year, my mother switched to all safflower and the little black seeds that go in the finch feeder. No starlings, no blackbirds. Then again, all I see now is finches (house finches and gold finches) occasionally some chickadees, and collard doves (which she won't let me shoot). There is a little nuthatch that comes around every once in a while, and when she remembers to buy suet, we have a breeding pair of downy woodpeckers in the area that come by quite often. But last year, when she had the birdseed BLEND (rather than straight safflower) we had such a variety of birds! We had Stellar's jays that came down out of the foothills (I have never seen them east of the hogback), grosbeaks, and a mallard duck that sat on the ground for about 3 hours eating what the birds up top had dropped! She also stopped putting out the peanut ring because "those damn blue jays eat it to fast!"

    I think I need my own bird feeder pole. She can look at the same old house finches every single day, I'll bring in the neat stuff!

    So, that was a very long story, leading up to, I glad you like my picture, even if you're not particularly fond of the subject haha!

    And thanks for all the nice comments! I haven't pulled out the camera in ohhh...8 months? so I'm a bit rusty (and I think the camera is starting to as well. It's been through hell with me over the years). I wish I was good enough to enter the contest, but I'm pretty sure a good number of the folks who do work for National Geographic. Man, those are some awesome shots!

    I think it was an immature Coopers hawk, either that or an imm. sharp shinned hawk. It had the very striking bars across the tail. If you want to send the pictures (I have more) to your hawk guy, that would be neat to get a positive ID!

    On the subject of hawks, when I was doing a mulch job over in the ritzy neighborhood, I DID see a beautiful mature Coopers hawk who sat in an old aspen snag about 4 yards away and watched me for nearly an hour. How many times have I told myself to keep the camera in the car!? And the other day, I was driving up Union towards Alameda on my way to school and saw a red tailed hawk that was one of the most brightly colored I have ever seen, I sweat that tail was pure crimson!

    I went back out today and got another list done and more pictures. I'll upload those later. I'm gonna go fill the birdfeeders for my mom since shes not here this weekend so the house finches have something to eat tomorrow! If I'm feeling bold, I might brave the weather and head up to Green Mountain or S. Table while the little one is in school and try to do another.

  • ZachS. z5 Platteville, Colorado
    7 years ago

    So here are some pictures from today. Man oh man was it ever COLD this morning!

    A hooded merganser. To be honest I'm not sure if mergansers are actually "ducks" but they are neat nonetheless.

    And here is a close up of a cackler goose! I almost never see big geese, though, they sometimes will start to show up in this part of the country right about now. They almost "refuse" to migrate unless they run out of food.

    And THIS GUY! WOW! What a surprise to see him! Most of the time, wood ducks have left the state entirely by the end of November and don't come back until the spring migration is underway. He made the trip (and the cold) well worth it!

    I have to admit, I felt a little bad for him. He is all dressed up and no ladies around. He tried to play with the mallards, and they let him hang out a little bit. But I guess he started eyeballing one of the greenhead's girlfriend, cuz they eventually chased him off. You can come home with me and live with the chickens, little dude!

    And here's an "oldie but goody". It seems I am in desperate need to get some time behind the lens, the quality of my photos has gone downhill :(.

    This is the young rose breasted grosbeak we had last year at the feeder. He was a real ham, loved getting his picture taken! (I think that's why I was able to get a decent shot, he stood still and let me get real close!)

  • Skybird - z5, Denver, Colorado
    Original Author
    7 years ago
    last modified: 7 years ago

    Wikimedia Commons pics

    I think your pics are Great, Zach! I don’t understand why you don’t think
    they’re good enough to enter in a contest!
    The wood duck, the grosbeak, ALL of them! I’ve never had a grosbeak here! VERY cool!

    I don’t understand why you assume your pics aren’t “good
    enough” to enter in a contest! I
    discovered a contest, Wiki Loves Monuments (Wikimedia Commons) in 2012, which
    was for pics of places on the National Register of Historic Places, and, having
    been to some of those on the lists, I decided to submit some. My “good” camera, the last of my Canon AE1
    [FILM] cameras died two days after it spent the nite with me “under a rock” in
    southern Utah (unwillingly!) in ‘07, and that was when I switched to a “pocket
    size” digital—which I’ve been using ever since!
    Originally planned to get a good SLR digital, but decided I REALLY like
    being able to stick my camera in my pocket when I’m hiking, so never bought
    another “big” one! Some of the pics I
    entered in that Wiki contest were taken with that first small digital
    camera—which was not particularly “refined!”
    Since then I’ve bought several small Canon digital cameras, but nothing
    fancy! [My primary requirement is that
    they have a viewfinder!] In the Wiki
    contest I wound up with 5—I think it was—of my pics in the “final 500!” That was out of many thousands, so I thought
    that was pretty cool! I don’t remember
    exactly anymore, but when they cut it down to 100 I think I still had one or
    two in the running. Didn’t win any of
    the big prizes or anything, but it was still cool to get that far! And—ta da—one of my pics was used on a
    Wikipedia page! Do I have bragging
    rights now??? And would you believe it
    was a close up of a buncha Bison antiquus bones! [At the Hudson-Meng Bison Bonebed in NE!] Whoda thunk?
    But at least some of my pics, taken with my little “pocket camera” made
    it further than a lot of other pics that I’m sure were taken with big,
    expensive cameras! So don’t let the
    camera, or the fact that you’re not a “professional” scare you off!

    After that contest I entered a whole bunch of pics in a
    National Parks contest—was posting some of them here on RMG while that was
    going on! Didn’t win anything there
    either, but you never know, and I figure now they have the pics and possibly
    they’d find one of them useful for something they’re doing some day!

    Then, since you mentioned Natl. Geo., early in ’14 I entered
    a few in the National Geographic “Your Shot Assignment” “contest,” which they
    do quite frequently. As far as I know
    it’s the only Nat Geo contest that’s free to enter! [I don’t PAY to “give” people my pics!] But when I checked back to see who had won,
    it seemed to me they were picking the “strangest” [IMO] pics as winners, and
    I’m into “real” things, and not “exotic” looking pics, so I only entered a
    couple in that and then decided to not waste any more time with it.

    I’ve seen people out in National Parks holding their LAPTOPS
    up to take pics! I’m like, SAY
    WHAT! I’m sure the quality of my “pocket
    camera” pics is as good as their “laptop” pics! And there are people all over the place that
    only ever use their phones anymore! So
    don’t assume you don’t have the proper “equipment” or don’t have the
    “expertise!” Pictures are “art” and like
    all other art, there’s no “wrong” way to do it!

    I think your bird pics are GREAT! I really mean that! Not saying you need to enter one of the
    contests, but don’t not do it just because you assume others are gonna “be
    better” or have “better pics!”

    If you want to look at my “professional” [a/k/a little pocket
    camera] pics from the Wiki contest, I’m linking the page. On the bottom click to see “50” at a time and
    all 48 will be on the same page.
    Unfortunately they’re not in the order I entered them, and the Natural
    Bridges, Chaco, Aztec Ruins, etc. pics are all mixed up together. If you click on any of the individual pages,
    the camera info is at the bottom—the Olympus it the olde one!

    -- Continued! --

  • Skybird - z5, Denver, Colorado
    Original Author
    7 years ago
    last modified: 7 years ago

    What is it??? (It's not a plant!)

    Splitting this into two posts! I just don’t trust things to not get cut off
    right now!!!

    About the birds here!
    I was out half of the afternoon today, so didn’t get any counting
    done. Have—pretty short—lists to submit
    from Friday and Saturday, and now that there’s snow on the ground I hope to get
    a halfway decent count tomorrow! Got the
    suet filled up late this afternoon.

    I only feed safflower, black oil sunflower, and
    thistle—that’s the “little black seeds” your mother feeds that finches
    love! But I don’t have any thistle socks
    out right now—because—my neighbor’s cats love to EAT my birds, and when they
    jump up to catch them they destroy the thistle socks by putting big, long claw
    marks in them, and all the—expensive—thistle seed winds up on the ground and
    the sock is destroyed!

    I don’t feed millet anymore because it attracts hoards of
    house sparrows—which are Noxious Weeds, imported from Europe! Since I feed sunflower, I DO have a problem
    with mobs of blackbirds showing up from time to time, but that’s what the
    Blackbird Dispersal System is for! They
    eat the suet too, and I just can’t afford to be feeding blackbirds!

    Yesterday I had, besides the usual house finches, a pair of
    black capped chickadees—my favorite, a robin, a flicker—but a red one—hoping
    the yellow one might show up tomorrow, and a couple doves—but they were flying
    and I’m not sure if they were mourning or Eurasian collared! Really hopeful for some juncos and a few
    other things tomorrow! I’ll let you know
    tomorrow what I wound up seeing!

    Since I’m doing a separate post, I’m gonna add a link to the thread with
    the pics I entered in the Natl Parks contest—but there’s not much left on
    it! In one post they’ve truncated it—AND
    half the pics have somehow been converted back to text, which does NOT work
    even if you copy/paste it to see it in a new window, and the other post that
    had a LOT of pics is cut off and most of them are missing. BUT, the first two pics are of the red tailed
    hawk that the CO raptor guy positively identified for me! [I will find that link and post if for you or
    email it to you when I have time!]

    Outta here for tonite!
    Thanks for helping “count the birds,” Zach!


    P.S. We oughta get an
    RMG “bird hike” together out to Rocky Mountain Arsenal some day!

  • Skybird - z5, Denver, Colorado
    Original Author
    7 years ago

    Zach, just checked to be sure the linked thread worked, and noticed that Misty, in the very first reply, linked the Birds of Colorado site! That's the guy I sent the pics of the hawk to for the ID! He replied very quickly, and seemed really nice. There's a raptor rescue up here, not too far from me, where he helps with the birds! Just thought I'd let you know now to be sure I don't forget to get the info to you later! Go to his contact page!


  • ZachS. z5 Platteville, Colorado
    7 years ago
    last modified: 7 years ago

    I really do appreciate it! Thank you! Though, I am looking back at some of my older pictures compared with this weekend, and I just don't see the same quality that I had last year or the year before! Like they say, we are always our own worst critic... I know it's not an equipment thing, beautiful photography can be taken with pretty much any device, it's the person hitting the shutter that is the variable, in my opinion. I prefer a DSLR because I like to shoot in either manual or Av and I like to be able to use different lenses and lens covers. But, it would be very nice to be able to keep it in my pocket rather than having it dangle around my neck like a tourist!

    Maybe it was because the conditions were pretty bad this weekend. I had a big cloud sitting right overhead all day on Saturday, blocking most of my light and on Sunday I went out at like 7 am, which, on a good day can give you awesome pictures (photographers will often call early morning and evening the "golden" hours because of the great lighting provided by the sun being lower on the horizon). Unfortunately, once again, clouds blocked the sun and forced me to use a very slow shutter speed (I think I was averaging about 1/50 of a second, for birds especially I like to stay above 1/200 as the bare minimum, 1/500 and above is what I really prefer). Long exposure + moving targets + a cold and shivering operator does not usually make good pictures. Then again, neither does not picking up the camera for more than half a year!!

    So, when I say the quality has gone down. I'm looking at pictures like that goose, which I really had to drastically increase exposure during post-editing, making it look "washed out." Plus the composition of that one I find offensive in the first place, but, all the others which had better composition were badly out of focus. The beak and the eye of the merganser are also out of focus (which is due to several things, including the fact that intense cropping of JPEG images reduces quality very quickly, but since he was so far away, you wouldn't hardly be able to see him at all if I hadn't. Here again, a reason I like a DSLR is I can shoot in RAW format rather than JPEG, but, since my card is almost full and RAW images take up 100x the space, I was using JPEG). To top it all off, the horizon line of both the merganser AND the wood duck is awful. If you look at the ripples in the water, hey slant downhill significantly towards the right. Apparently, that particular lake defies the law of gravity. Fixing horizon lines is pretty easy in post-editing, but, once again, JPEGs don't hold up well to the rigors as well, leading to an overall poorer quality.

    Another one of my problems is trying to take far away pictures with a telephoto "zoom" lens. If only I could afford one of those great big cannon telephoto (no zoom), the coolest birds, like the mergansers, buffle heads, and golden eyes who like to sit as far away from shore as possible would be much clearer shots. Once again, with zoom lenses, the more you "zoom" in, the less quality you have. One of the few instances I will blame the equipment haha!

    I do LOVE your pictures Skybird! The pictures of the Anasazi ruins, I can't remember where I saw it at, but the one looking down into the ruin with the canyon in the background is so cool! I was disappointed with my pictures from Mesa Verde when we went a couple years ago. I resigned to the fact landscapes and architecture photography is not my thing. plants and animals are what I'm better at. That's really neat that your's is on Wikipedia!

    But, also back to the birds! I had no idea those were thistle seeds the bags always just say "finch seeds" or something like that. I wonder who is the one who says "I want to start a thistle farm" to grow them...sounds painful! There's no sock on our, we pout them in a wire mesh feeder, I can imagine the havoc wrecked on them by the cats!

    My list today was pretty short, but, it was a good one! I got rear ended on my way home this morning (lucky for me, I keep the hitch attached to the truck, not so lucky for the moron who hit me) so I didn't make it "out" I just did it at the feeder. We had TWO red breasted nuthatches, when before I have only ever seen one (like your robins, I think they just wanted to get counted!) And, a mountain chickadee was here today, have't seen one of those guys in a while, along with a handful of black-capped, definitely one my favorites, too! I am thinking most of the birds though were hunkered down, and I suspect they might come out more once the snow stops blowing.

    Did you see any juncos? I found out not to long ago that they are all the same species, even though they all look so different. I wonder if the variation occurs in the same population or if each population all look one way and another all look the other way? Same with house finches, does the red and yellow occur in the same population or do I have different "groups" at my feeder... it's a mystery (to me). Sorry, I'm being nerdy... I also didn't know we had yellow flickers in Colorado! I have only ever seen the red ones.

    Can't wait to hear what you've seen! Hopefully your feeder is more active than mine, but I'm sure things will pick up in the spring. Which is also when we should do the bird hike! That sounds awesome! Maybe on a nice weekend in April?

    P.s. You know, Skybird, telling me my pictures are great only encourages me to post more HAHA! These ones from last winter (2013/2014) aren't very good at all, too grainy and out of focus, but, I kept them more a record than as artwork.

    They boy downy woodpecker. Not sure if it's the same pair that came back this year or not.

    And the mountain chickadee. Hard to get a picture since they don't sit still, like the nuthatches! But this one showed off his (her?) "highlights" pretty good.

    Oh, and we also had two species of grosbeak last year, just one of each. A dark headed grosbeak who came by almost daily for about a month (but I NEVER got a picture of) and the rose breasted. Hopefully they stop by again.

  • ZachS. z5 Platteville, Colorado
    7 years ago
    last modified: 7 years ago

    I'm going to throw a few more pictures up here, just because I think these ones are pretty cool since the birds were pretty cooperative! There's a nice one of the mountain chickadee and the nuthatch that have eluded my best efforts for a long time, but now, I got them! Black capped chickadees and blue jays are the next "project" I might have to rub the feeders down with glue to get them haha!

    ^ a goldfinch (they are usually very accommodating, it seems their love of thistle far outweighs their fear of me hanging out the kitchen window!) If you look closely you can see his bright yellow "breeding plumage" is just starting to come in. I was actually a little disappointed with photographing them yesterday, I wasn't fast enough to catch the snow ball fight they were having, flinging snow from on top of the feeder down at the ones who were eating! It was hilarious.

    ^The mountain chickadee (I'm trying to get a BCC for you Skybird, but I didn't see any yesterday. Then I tried to get the lone junco that stopped by, but, no dice)

    ^The red breasted nuthatch that I never thought I'd get a decent picture of, he's like a bolt of lightning. Maybe it was just taking his cues from the goldfinches.

    And finally a house finch. Sweet little birds, but, not very exciting.

    Also, I am curious about your blackbird dispersal system Skybird, does it also disperse grackles and starlings?

  • digit (ID/WA, border)
    7 years ago


    There is some really good photography ..

    . on this thread!

    ッ Steve

  • digit (ID/WA, border)
    7 years ago

    You are getting some great shots and must have been taking good care of your feathered friends, Zach!

    Yes, one or both are straight from Japanese orthography ... and another: ジ .

    I don't know why I didn't think of this with the old GW. Got a little more motivated in my searches lately . . .ズ

    Steve ツ

  • ZachS. z5 Platteville, Colorado
    7 years ago
    last modified: 7 years ago

    Thanks Steve! I think one of the flicker is one of the best I've ever taken, and it was through a window! Feeding the birds is really my mom's thing, though, half the time I remind her to buy food, so I can fill the feeders (it's really a selfish reason, I want to attract them so I can take their picture, mutually beneficial, but, selfish nonetheless)!

    Hmmm... I might need a fancy signature now Steveツ, maybe Cyrillic? Or Hebrew?

  • ZachS. z5 Platteville, Colorado
    7 years ago
    last modified: 7 years ago

    Here's a sight! They were out in force today!

    Also had a new guy come by, a white crowned sparrow. I don't believe I've seen one before.

  • olreader
    7 years ago

    Here is a Great Horned Owl in the middle of the snow last night (Longmont, CO)

  • digit (ID/WA, border)
    7 years ago

    Owls ! Hawks! It's a dangerous world out there for a small bird!

    Supposedly, the white-crowned sparrow can be in large flocks but I don't know that I've ever seen them at more than a few at a time.

    I seem to have gotten past having my snapshots turn every which way by opening the picture in Paint. Yep, just old 20th century MSPaint. It isn't "smart enuf" to automatically correct the orientation for viewing. So, it can be turned, saved and uploaded.

    If there is any more editing to be done, I don't have to do that in Paint but that initial turning always works.


  • ZachS. z5 Platteville, Colorado
    7 years ago

    Awesome Olreader! Owls are amazing! We had one who lived over here I used to listen to, and once, only once, I saw him when he landed in the big cottonwood in our yard. I haven't seen or heard him since though, I guess he's moved on. How cool you got a shot of yours!

    So, I had to look the sparrow up on Cornell to get an I.D. yesterday, I guess the Pacific Coast and the Rocky Mountains are the only places in the U.S. that have resident WC sparrow populations, everywhere else they either migratory or winter residents only. That might explain why we don't see the huge flocks, Steve!

    Hmmm... so, when I take my pictures, my camera automatically orients my pictures to either landscape or portrait depending on how I was holding the camera. I never have to rotate my images after uploading. I just copy them into the pictures folder on the PC from the SD card so that they are saved on my computer for editing and the originals are kept "original" on the card. But it seems that, even though both my camera AND my computer have them saved as portrait orient. Houzz does not accept it... Although, Im starting to think here...that one of all the birds at the feeders has no editing. It just went straight from the camera, to the computer, to here. Maybe that has something to do with it?

  • ZachS. z5 Platteville, Colorado
    7 years ago

    Apparently it does, I just did a minor contrast tweak to the photo, saved it, and uploaded it and it's fixed... how weird is that...

  • ZachS. z5 Platteville, Colorado
    7 years ago

    So, I think the young hawk I was getting pictures of earlier is in fact a sharp shinned hawk. I had this guy in the dead Russian olive, and I'm pretty certain this is a SSH, based on its VERY small size (he couldn't have been much bigger than a large blue jay or flicker) and his square tail. So, I did some more looking, it appears that the juvenile's have brown patches all the way down the front, like I notice on my earlier pictures, whereas Cooper's only have them towards the top of the breast. But, Cornell does say that the two are very nearly indistinguishable.

  • digit (ID/WA, border)
    7 years ago

    Oh, they are something, Zach!

    Very aggressive!

    I've seen them down on the ground and just tear into a thick bed of rose bushes, after small birds hiding in there.


  • david52 Zone 6
    7 years ago

    Something I read a while ago, the main predator on skunks are owls. So when the West Nile virus moved through and wiped out all those magpies and owls, the skunk population boomed - that I remember rather well.

  • mstywoods
    7 years ago
    last modified: 7 years ago

    Wow - wonderful photos!! Inspiring me to at least pay more attention for bird friends visits :) I'll be on the lookout now, but can't say I've seen any in our yard that I can recall lately! Unless this one counts (pic taken this morning):


    Come on robins - I'm praying to see you soon as an indicator that spring is very near!


  • ZachS. z5 Platteville, Colorado
    7 years ago

    I don't doubt it, Steve, it's a hard-knock life for a bird, both predator and prey haha. I knew a guy who used to raise pheasants and they would roost outside on a perch that I guess was a little too close to the top of the chicken wire netting overhead. He said the owl would come by at night and pick them off one by one through he top of the pen. The details are probably a little gruesome, so I'll just say I don't think they got a whole pheasant through the wire.

    I think I've heard that, too, David! Something about them not having a sense of smell. Fortunately, the closest I have ever come to a skunk is the ones that have didn't make it across the road. Surprising that we have loads of other critters that prowl around here, coyotes, foxes, raccoons, and neighbors have had skunks, but, not us.

    It may not count for Cornell, Marj, (don't worry, neither did my fat chicken) but I we'll count it here ;). I saw dozens of robins in the hawthorns that are planted on the median going down Kipling here last week. At least, I am fairly certain they were Robins.

  • ZachS. z5 Platteville, Colorado
    7 years ago

    You all getting tired of these yet? Probably... So, my apologies. But, here's another new one (not at the feeder). I went down to South Valley Park this morning, I'm was on the hunt for a Stellar's jay, but instead I saw these, western scrub jays I think, though, I guess they could be pinyon jay's as well. Turns out birding is a lot harder in the wild than at the feeder haha!

  • mstywoods
    7 years ago

    Skybird - I saw on the morning show today a report on how smart crows are. They were comparing them to at least as smart as a 7 year old child! Part of the report was about a little girl who has been feeding crows in her yard, and how they bring her gifts like jewelry, coins, etc. which they leave at the bird feeder. Sort of repayment for the food she leaves them, as well as encouragement to keep doing it! LOL. I thought it was interesting as they also have been doing studies on crows of how they recognize people faces, can learn how to make their own tools, etc.

    Most people don't like crows as they are kind of noisy, and get a bad rap for being spooky because of some poems, movies (The Birds!!), etc. I don't think I see crows around our yard much, though.


  • Skybird - z5, Denver, Colorado
    Original Author
    7 years ago
    last modified: 7 years ago

    Misty, if you've never seen it, check
    out the PBS video, A Murder of Crows. It's about the intelligence of
    blackbirds, and it's pretty amazing! I've seen it on TV a couple times.

    I’m not a big fan of blackbirds! It’s not because I don’t like them “as
    birds,” it’s because they EAT all the seed I put out for the “little birds,” and
    I can’t afford to feed the BIG birds!
    I’ve developed a Blackbird Dispersal System so I can scare them away
    without hurting them, but they are VERY smart, and they keep coming back
    several times each time they show up—until they realize that the “scarer” is
    going to “appear” every time they come—and then they—all of them, at the feeders
    AND in the trees—go away and usually don’t come back for a day or two—to try

    There have been some VERY cool “animal” shows on PBS lately! The “animal homes” series that’s on right now
    is amazing! Also linked on that
    page. And if you click “see all” there
    are many more possibilities, including Leave it to Beavers, which was just on
    (TV) last week, and it’s absolutely incredible to see in such detail “what they
    do” and HOW they do it—and how good, and necessary, they are for the
    environment! If you have time, I highly
    recommend it! (Full episodes of “animal
    homes” are available on the “see all” page!)
    Easy enough to link things now, so here IS the “see all” page!!!

    Gotta go!

    P.S. Zach, I never managed
    to get back here to post, but I LOVE all the pics you posted. Thanks for posting them. I didn’t have a “very successful” bird count
    this year! Very few birds, and not much
    besides the normal “regulars” I have.
    Definitely no “murder” of robins this year! Misty I love your “icicle bluebird pic!” Feel very sorry for the bluebird—but love the

    P.P.S. Since I already have WebAlbums
    up, here’s a pic (not very close up!) of a Golden Eagle on the Ute Mountain
    Tribal Park last spring! This is the
    only Golden I’ve ever seen!

  • mstywoods
    7 years ago

    This bird came and stood in my not so dry "creek bed" after the down pour of rain and hail we had today. I think it's a hawk. What do you think, Skybird? I tried to get closer to the glass, but he took off, so this is as good a pics as I could get.

    Must have been a little rough for him in the deluge - he/she looks a bit ruffled!

  • popmama (Colorado, USDA z5)
    7 years ago

    Hard to say for sure, but his tail feathers look quite long and he looks rather small which to me equals Cooper's Hawk. They have very distinctive stripes on the underside of their tail feathers if you do happen to get a look from that angle. They also have a sort of speckled breast rather than the distinctive belly-band that Red Tails have or the dark collar that Swainson's have which are two of the more common hawks in this area.

  • ZachS. z5 Platteville, Colorado
    7 years ago
    last modified: 7 years ago

    I would also say Cooper's or sharp shinned hawk. Though, see my above posts about trying to tell one from the other, virtually impossible. Very cool though!

    We have nesting golden eagles at work (however I am sworn to secrecy as to where their nest is) i will post my picture of one of the parents later. And up the road from our entrance gate there are burrowing owls living on some private property, which I have been searching for for weeks and I finally saw one fly across the road on my way home the other night with a snake dangling from his talons. Too bad I wasn't able to get a picture.

  • ZachS. z5 Platteville, Colorado
    7 years ago

    Am I back to posting pictures here, lol! I have been neglectful, I guess!

    Here's one of the golden eagle parents, pretty far away and it was sitting right in front of the sun so it's not a very good picture.

    And here's a hummingbird! Probably a broad tailed, but I have heard a few Anna's (the only hummingbird we have that has a distinct vocalization) and one of my co-workers got a picture of a rufous hummingbird the other day,

    I didn't get a picture of the burrowing owl, but, I did get a picture of a meadowlark on the same road.

    And a spotted towhee, probably one of, if not the most, common bird we have.

  • digit (ID/WA, border)
    7 years ago
    last modified: 7 years ago

    Here's something ..

    . I just came across: