Jim Williams has been watching birds and writing about their antics since before "Gilligan's Island" went into reruns. Join him for his unique insights, his everyday adventures and an open conversation about the birds in your back yard and beyond.
Killdeer often build their nests -- little more than a scrape -- in gravel or on open soil. This one chose to use wood shavings surrounding a tree trunk. Can you find the eggs? The camo is pretty good.
Feeding in our yard today was a White-throated Sparrow with a tuft of seriously misplaced feathers. They protrude from the bird's rigth flank, like a feather duster attached to the bird's hip. Behavior of the sparrow appeared ordinary. It moved on the ground and flew without apparent problem. Did the bird have a narrow escape from a predator, a claw tearing the feathers as the bird flew? Looks like a lot of feather for that part of the body doesn't it? And the dark color seems wrong. Doesn't make much sense. The sparrow's bill appears odd because the bird was manipulating a piece of cracked corn.
Yellow and Yellow-rumped warblers offered feeding action Saturday at a pond near our house. Those species plus Barn and Tree swallows and a lone Eastern Kingbird plucked insects from the water's surface throughout the day. I sat in dry grass beside the pond, watching and taking photos of the acrobatic performances. Palm Warblers were present in an adjoining orchard, but they chose to hunt food in the orchard grass.
Baltimore Orioles are being seen in the metro area. You can bring them in for a close look by offering them grape jelly. It's an early substitute for the fruit they would eat if it was available. We made our jelly feeder in about five minutes. The container once held deli olives. Two holes were drilled to accommodate the perch, an old paint brush. Trying to poke a hole with a knife is likely to shatter the plastic. This impressive feeder is attached to our deck railing with a foot of string. The perch is necessay to help keep the bird from standing in the jelly. The oriole will have no way to clean himself if it becomes a sticky mess.
From one observation point on a short nine-hole golf course this morning (Friday) I counted 120 warblers. Moving twice to get views around and over nearby small hills, trying to avoid counting any bird twice, I add 74 more birds. They were foraging in the fairway grass. I am certain I didn’t count them all. The birds were spread over approximately four acres. Most were Yellow-rumped. There were about 40 Palm Warblers, and two Yellow Warblers. I could find no other species. Unfortunately, the golf course is private, access limited. I was there because I tend the nest boxes on the course. A fallout, should you not know, is a concentration of birds observed while taking a break from migration. They could be feeding and resting or be grounded by bad weather. The photos are lousy, but offer an idea of the concentration of some of these birds. There are 20 birds in the first photo.
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