Sunday, April 27, 2008

Sunday afternoon bird-watching...

Click up pictures for a better look.

I really wasn't sure about identifying these birds. They've been hanging around the stock pond near our house for a week or two. I knew they were in the sandpiper family, but which? Today, after sitting along the bank, watching and observing the little details, I figured it out.

The top two photos are of the Lesser Yellowlegs. We also have the Greater Yellowlegs, but I didn't snap a good enough photo of him. The largest clue to the mystery was the yellow legs (of course). I knew if I could figure out the call, I'd know it on the spot. So I went to and clicked up a few of my bird-guesses and this one's call hit the nail on the head. I like the Enature site because it usually has excellent bird calls so be sure to take a listen! It is really amazing how many little details it takes to identify the exact bird, but once you recognize them, you know better next time what to look for when you're out birding.....calls, flight patterns, body size, beaks, wing and tail markings, and even leg color. They all add up to the right bird identification.

I wish this picture was clearer, but I took it from a long way off and tried to crop it up close. This is the Wilson's Phalarope. These, for me, are easy to ID. They love to swim round and round in circles, stirring up the bugs to eat. They're just like little wind-up toys and they make a sweet little low-pitched "chek, chek" sound as they stir. They have long yellow legs a long, needle-like beak and the prettiest stripe that starts at the eye and goes down the neck and fading into a reddish color on the breast and wings. My field guide says they are uncommon, but they are always here on our stock dams in spring and summer.

Here is the Sharp-shinned Hawk, similar to the Cooper's Hawk, but the tiny detail of the tail color and notching identified him. He was perched in the willow in my backyard near the bird feeders. The songbirds kept well away while he watched. One time I found this same hawk dead near our John Deere tractor bucket. There was a little sparrow dead right next to him. Evidently, the hawk was chasing down the sparrow and they both collided with the tractor's bucket.

I saw a Yellow-rumped Warbler today while I was sitting on the bank. He caught my eye, but he was a long way off and the only way I could see him very well was with Hubby's wonderful Leupold field glasses. I couldn't get a good photo. I tried to find a good online photo for you, but nothing looked as good as what I saw today. The best photo is here at Morningside Family. Laura and her family are bird watchers in NYC and they spotted the Yellow-rumped Warbler too!

One more site you might enjoy is High Desert Home where Susan enjoys birding in Oregon. She's seeing the Northern Flicker and Sandhill Cranes right now.

I hope you love birds too. It is economical. It saves going to heaven.
~Emily Dickinson


  1. Great photos and information.
    And what a wonderful Emily Dickingson quote.

  2. Oooh, I love seeing bird pictures -- these are beautiful. We have some sort of hawk couple nesting in one of our trees this year for the first time. I should try to get a picture -- you'd probably know what kind of bird it is! Oh, and LOVE your cute little tea-towel from the previous post!

  3. Wow, how blessed to live somewhere with so many spices of birds. Have a lovely day. xoxoxo Clarice


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