I’d meant to recap our trip to Homer earlier this month, but never got around to it, so here it is (I’m waiting for the New Shed Hefeweizen mash to finish). We entered all our birds into the animals database winding up with a total of 53 species, including yellow-billed loons, which was a life-bird for both Andrea and me. We didn’t see any Red knots, which was a disappointment since they’re expected to go extinct within the next ten years. Last year we only saw one, but in past years we’ve seen groups of them. It’s shocking to witness the elimination of a species (OK, subspecies…) over such a short period of time.
Spring migration was well underway when we got back from Homer, and we’ve been keeping track of all the birds as they come into to our yard. We’re still twenty-one species shy of our total last year, but new birds are still showing up. This morning’s new species was a Swainson’s Thrush, which showed up one day earlier than last year.
We’ve been keeping track of all the animals we’ve seen in our yard, but now that it’s winter, seeing something new is rare. Last month we saw our first great horned owl of the fall season, and today the pine grosbeaks showed up. The males are a bright magenta color (like the three in the photo on the right) and the females are a light olive green color. Not only are they very colorful birds, they have a really delicate song that’s not at all what I expect to hear.
I took the picture through the sliding glass door to the deck, so there’s some glare on the window. Click on the photo for a larger version where you can really see them.
We had an interesting visitor this afternoon when I came home from work. The sun had already set and all I had was by little digital camera, but the photos show a three-toed woodpecker on a dead tree near the house. It was banging away for at least twenty minutes before I went inside.
It (he) had a bright yellow cap, which is sort of visible in the photos, and you can see the barring on the back which distinguishes him from a black-backed woodpecker. Very cool.
Earlier Nika was out in the dog yard with Deuce, barking up a storm near the dog shed. It was starting to get dark, so I couldn’t really see what she was barking at. I wanted a beer anyway, so I got my boots on for a walk out to the red cabin. About a quarter of the way out there I heard a strange screeching noise. At first I thought maybe it was moose antlers rubbing on metal behind the dog shed, but when I looked where the sound came from I saw a great big bird in the birch tree behind the sheds. Raven? Then it turned it’s head, looked at me and started moving it’s head up and down, back and forth, probably trying to figure out what I was.
The photo is pretty bad, but it’s a great horned owl. Honest! The camera has an ISO adjustment feature, which might have helped a bit, but I didn’t want to mess around with the settings too much in case it flew away. I snapped a couple photos and then watched it through my binoculars. After a couple minutes of looking around, it saw something over by the red cabin and flew over there.
I’d heard great horned owls calling at our old house, and thought I heard one here a week ago, but seeing one so close to the house was a real treat.
Meanwhile, Piper wanted out to see what Nika had been barking at. When I came back in to listen to the Rockies game (the wheels seem to be coming off for the Diamondbacks), you can see her petition to go outside in the photo. She can be very cute.