Thursday, November 20, 2014


So far, I seem to have only one squirrel, and it's really not so intrusive! In fact, I don't think I've ever seen it on the feeder. The most the squirrel "interfered" with one of my hanging feeders was when I put the hopper in the tree. Then, it couldn't resist climbing onto it. Now, it seems more or less content to eat what's on the ground? I have no doubt that it's jumping at the feeder or something when I'm not there, but it's certainly not "owning it." I comment on all this because I'm trying to decide what to do height-wise when the ground (hopefully) thaws a little this weekend.

Wednesday, November 19, 2014

Feeder is Back!

Earlier this year, I didn't set up my feeder cam until the end of Feb, so perhaps many birds had already moved to reliable food sources for the winter. I just put the feeder back up last week, and in what would look like a "worse" spot. Yet, I already have 2 new species this year, and one that took awhile to find the feeder last time!

One of the new species is dark-eyed junco, and I'm wondering if it just likes the more open spot that the feeder is now in. The other is red-bellied woodpecker. In fact, that bird was so desperate to get onto the feeder today, it was hanging from the copper perch and curling up to grab a sunflower seed. I'll put up the hopper feeder for it soon, which has suet cages on the side.

The one that "took awhile" seemingly at the end of last winter was house finch. I'm not sure why. It also seems to like this feeder better, as it may have chosen that over the hopper when both were up. We''ll see maybe if that holds true, since they'll now be outside my bedroom window.

Monday, November 17, 2014

WI November Rarities

Yesterday's sweet bird on campus inspired me to write about Wisconsin's rarities this time of year. Apparently the green violet-ear that showed up in WI persisted into 1st week of Nov too.

Diligent scopers can find Pacific loons on the lakes this month, and maybe even a Eurasian wigeon mixed in with the migrating duck flocks. King eider isn't out of the question, if you're in the right place at the right time. If you're up on Lake Superior, it's wise to still be keeping an eye out for pomarine jaegers.

This is also the time of year to be looking through the gull flocks. A friend told me that years ago, there used to be a "regular" mew gull on Lake Michigan, though none have been seen since then in the state (however, worth noting there's one in MN right now). Keep an eye out for glaucous-winged, Ross's and ivory; while very rare, they have been seen in the state this month! Black-legged kittiwake has also been found on the great lakes with scopes. I see what is perhaps one record of an ancient murrelet for Nov., and I think they aren't unheard of on the great lakes.

I'd be curious to know the story behind groove-billed ani in the state, as well as burrowing owl. Though VERY irregular, in the right years and under the right conditions, it's possible to see 3-toed woodpecker up north. Believe it or not, Vermillion, ash-throated and fork-tailed flycatcher have all been spotted in-state this month. Records for Bewick's wren and curve-billed thrasher here are inspiring. My guess, though, is that the rarest passerine "likely" to be at your feeder right now is a black-headed grosbeak.

Sunday, November 16, 2014

Another Anna's!

Today, we were delighted by another Anna's hummingbird - this time, right on campus! While these birds seem hardly adapted to this weather, at least this species is, despite its fragile looks.

my feeder in its new spot
Meanwhile, I finally set my bird feeder back up at my window. You can see from all those tracks that it was a popular spot today.

Thursday, November 13, 2014

Southern Red-Backed Vole

Locally, I might finally try to stake out some voles with a friend who studies mammals. They become more diurnal in winter, and peel bark for food. So, I'm hoping for a little luck with more conspicuous behavior. This species in particular seems to prefer mesic sites in mixed forests, so I'll have to look around near logs.
"In the fall, it eats nuts and seeds. It also eats fungi, roots and some insects. It stores food for later use. In the winter, it eats stored food and it forages for tree roots, seeds and bark."
They also can breed through November. Apparently, it's not a bad idea to keep an eye out for them foraging overhead in trees.

Wednesday, November 12, 2014

Where to Bird in Winter?

I might go a little stir-crazy this winter, as we already have a dusting of snow starting to stick tonight. The windy cold front has me cooped up, and I'm not looking forward to what's ahead. This is too soon! I don't see an end until maybe the end of April, and that's just too long. So, what's a birder to do, in addition to a nice feeder outside the window?

Maybe I'll finally take a winter vacation. These are the closest places to me right now where I could get expected wintering lifers...
  • N. TX: the longspurs and that southern wren
    • Springfield, MO - Bewick's wren
    • south-central KS - chestnut-collared longspur (also BEWR)
    • TX: McCown's longspur
  • western SD (where a good friend lives!): gray-crowned rosy-finch, canyon wren, etc.

Monday, October 27, 2014

Cyathus olla

Call me weird (many do! ;) but I think this little fungus I found on campus is really "cute." It is one of the bird's nest fungi.
I hope I identified the species correctly! As you can see from the pic, it was growing under a crab apple tree in mulch.