Sunday, May 21, 2017

2017 Backyard Birds

We've been keeping track of our backyard birds again this year and although we started very slowly (no species observed in February because life got crazy), we've added to our list steadily since then. I feel like the kids are learning the birds a lot better now; repetition helps! The Bullock's orioles came back about two weeks ago, with their noisy chattering making the yard a lot noisier! Above is a female in the golden sunrise.

Of course, the birds we see most in our yard are our chickens! We have three grown hens that we've had for more than a year. They are fantastic layers. We got six new chicks in April, and they've grown fast. They spend their days in the run, which is an old swingset covered with chicken wire (including the bottom). They think it's awesome. They spent about two weeks in it during the days, and now we're letting them venture out a little on their own. That big rubbermaid container was their home for the first 10 days in the house, but then they started escaping too much so were moved out to the chicken coop with some baby gates to keep them separated from the big hens.

We see kestrels in our yard almost every day. They like the lombardy poplars a lot. I'm not sure if they're nesting in one of them or not--I hope so! The poplars and all the trees in the yard were trimmed this last winter so they will hopefully last a lot longer.

We see American robins frequently.

And this bird is also frequent. It's not my favorite, as it's non-native, but it is kind of pretty. Do you know it?
European starling. The feathers can be very shimmery in the right light.

Fortunately we do have native bird species around us. I found this one up the road, a sage thrasher. I don't seem them often, so had to look it up!

While I was doing a short-eared owl survey (no short-eared owls out here, unfortunately), I found this northern harrier on a fence post, with the snow-capped Deep Creek mountains in the background.

I did find another kind of owl, a burrowing owl. They are adorable (but hard to photograph without disturbing them).

We got a new dog from a shelter, and three days after we got her, my husband took her with him to work in the fields in a nearby town. He started a pump, it made a big noise, and she got scared and ran away. We went and looked for her frequently--nine trips! On some of the trips, I photographed birds, as it gave me an excuse to dawdle and hopefully for her to smell me and come back. Here are some red-winged blackbirds.

And I was tickled to find a merganser (not sure which kind) and an eared grebe swimming next to each other.

The curlews have been back over a month, although we still haven't seen one in our yard. They are so strange looking.

I was a little surprised to see this Cattle Egret out in one of the fields. It was a very windy day, so it was hunkered down.

The Western Kingbirds are another noisy bird that come into the yard frequently. And I just realized that we never added it to our list. Hurray for #27!

The Yellow-headed Blackbirds like being by the agricultural areas and water. I've never seen one in the yard.

And as for the dog, we got the word out she was missing, and our friends let us know every time they saw her. She kept running, though, so by the time we got down there, she was gone. On day four we got a call that she was lying in the yard. And this time she stayed and we were happily reunited!

Back to birds: We've gotten 35 species in the backyard the last two years, so our goal is to break that number. Hopefully with hummingbirds, night hawks, and more raptors, we might do that! You can see our list on the sidebar to the right. What birds have you seen in your yard lately?

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