Tuesday, March 20, 2007

Chippy O'Cardinal, Owl leavings and Parrakeets

Didn't do much for St. Pat's day, but I did see this cardinal wearing the green.
Lot's of cardinal activity in my back yard. At least three males competing for females in the backyard.

Went by the UT intramural fields (Whitaker Fields) and was surprised to see almost every light pole with a deck on it had a parakeet condo on it. I'm not 100% sure, but I think this signifies expansion. I don't remember this many separate condos before. Oh and by the way, I saw the Mitred Conure that flocks with the monk parakeets again. First time I'd seen him in at least a year. I feared he was dead. Didn't get a new shot of him but here's an old one.

But I digress. At the base of tower 31 at the IM Fields was 4 or 5 bits of gray fluff. It took me a while, but I recognized it as an owl pellet. The Owl eats the prey whole, the prey gets digested and the pellet (hair, feathers, bones) is regurgitated. Here's a shot of the bits I found.

Here's the pellet separated.

Here's the beak and feathers that identify this meal as a bird.

Man the Whitewing Doves are out in numbers now. I hear then singing in the morning and I saw 100 of them easily on my walk with the dogs to the PO. Also saw about 5 incas, 1 bluejay, 3 cardinals and 5 carolina wrens. Starlings? You bet, about 20. 10 Great tailed grackles. 20-25 house sparrows. 100 monk parakeets. No Robins or Cedar Waxwings. I hear a blue outside and 2 whitewing doves as I type this.

Tuesday, March 13, 2007

Owls Waxwings and the old battle.

I can't yet get a good picture of the great horned owl living in the hood. This ghostly image was the best I could do so far, taken March 7. But I hear him every night. Hoot hoota hoo. The across the street neighbors Mike and Barbara haven't seen their screech owls yet this spring. I hear them though. Last night I hear one north of my house, maybe two houses up. Don't know where they'll nest this year. The hollowed out branch in Mike and Barbara's yard has disintegrated, so last year's nesting hole is a know go. To see these owls check out my June 2006 posts.

The Waxwings were here in large numbers up to Monday. I got this new photo over the weekend. They've eaten all the berries in the tree they were pictured in a few posts ago. Bird book says they move on when the berries are gone. Raining heavily today so I haven't seen them.

The pair of Reb Bellied Woodpeckers that has been in my Pecan tree for 3 or 4 years now made a new hole and occupied it, but house sparrows, pictured here, and later and more ominously, Starlings have been vulturing the hole since last Friday. By Sunday, the starlings had turned the poor woodpeckers out of their own home. I actually saw a starling go in and start cleaning out the woodpecker nesting material. Brought over from Europe as a pretty cage bird in the 1890s, they have now spread to the whole of North America and evict popular native song birds, especially the eastern bluebird, and harrass Purple Martins. House Sparrows, also a introduced pest, do this too. It is legal to destroy these birds as invasive species, and they are among the most hated birds among birders.

Seen lots of Starlings, White Wing doves, House Sparrows, Great tailked grackles, and Inca doves in the last week. Saw two Carolina Wren this morning and hear them marking territory every day. Saw three Cardinal pair yesterday. Saw a Turkey vulture in flight over the weekend. Lots of Monk Parakeets. And about 5 female redwinged blackbirds. haven't seen the males yet. haven't seen a tufted titmouse or Carolina Chickadee in a while. Hear them though. No hummers yet.

Sunday, March 04, 2007

Owls by night Cedar Waxwings by Day

I have not been able to get a picture of the great horned owls that are living in the neighbor but I'm hearing them every day now, usually at dusk (6:30 to 8:30) and just before dawn (this morning I heard him in my back yard at about 6 am). The great horned has the "hoo hoo" call that we teach children is the sound owls make. Actually they are the only owl that makes that distinctive sound. The other common owl in the area and which was featured prominently in this blog last year is the Eastern Screech Owl. It makes a very different sound. Go here to play it. You will actually here two distinct parts: A descending, whiny hoot, (beginning) and a lower repetitive monotone (near the end). The birds in our area make the second sound 90 percent of the time.

Was pleased to see the Cedar Waxwings are sill munching on the Elm buds in my area. If you have an elm in your 'hood check for this pretty bird (crested, small than a cardinal and usually in flocks). Here's a pic:

Note the black mask, greenish yellow belly and bright yellow tail tip. Yes they like berries too.

I put out a mix bird seed and all the pig birds came: 20 to 30 house sparrows, 15 white wing doves, 10 grackles, 10 Starlings. and 5 Monk parakeets. I haven't seen the mitred conure that lives with the monks at the nearby UT Whitaker Fields in about a year. I've put out a finch feeder but have only seen one dead house finch. The oriole feeder has attracted no one. The hummer bird feeders are feeding no one yet that I've seen.

A red bellied wood pecker family lives nearby and is frequently tapping on my Pecan tree with the dead top branch. I've also heard what sounds like a yellow bellied sapsucker but I haven't seen it. Still looking. The Jays are out in force now as are the cardinals, Carolina wrens and chickadees. Haven't seen the tufted titmice yet. The ruby crowned kinglet has apparently moved on. Haven't seen one in 2 weeks. After seeing Robins for the last 3 weeks, haven't seen any this week. Nesting is going on in earnest, though. More as it happens.

Thursday, March 01, 2007

Cedar Waxwings!

Cedar waxwings were still here as of yesterday. Here's some pix that show their beauty. They have been here about 2 weeks at least and always hang around in flocks of 20 to 50 or so. Here they are feasting on berries on an ornamental in my yard but more often they've been feasting on the buds of Elm trees. Bird book says they'll leave when the food source dwindles. Check 'em out!