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An open conversation about the birds in your back yard and beyond

Nesting nuthatches, courting woodpecker

We took an 800-mile drive in the Dakotas last weekend, a brown drive spattered with white, not many birds to be seen, Nice time, though. Give that country a couple of weeks and it will be an exciting place. (As will any location where birds should be found.)


Meanwhile, our yard is the place to be. Sometimes, the best birding is where you are, no driving required.


The pond behind the house is 80 percent ice-free. Four Wood Ducks were there earlier this morning, three drakes and one highly desired hen. Wood Ducks nest here, using the boxes we provide. Mallards also have visited.


A Red-bellied Woodpecker is in high courtship gear. Perched on a dead box elder tree near the pond, he — we presume it is a male — has been calling steadily for two days. His song is the all-purpose churring call this species makes. The bird churrs three or four times a minute. He slows as the afternoon wears on. I’ve put up one woodpecker nesting box in the yard, a modified duck box, and today plan to build a box intended for woodpeckers. It will be designed for flickers, which we have in the neighborhood. Cross my fingers.


A pair of White-breasted Nuthatches is cleaning a cavity in a maple tree about 12 feet from our deck. We will be able to watch the nesting cycle with coffee from a deck chair. 


Bluebirds and Tree Swallows are swirling around my bird boxes at the nearby golf course where I tend boxes. The Bluebirds have staked claims. 


Last night, Apr. 23, I heard the first frog call coming from the pond, a lone Wood Frog tuning his voice.



European bird numbers on serious decline

Birds in agricultural areas in France are reported to be in long-term serious decline.


Scientists wonder of this is reflected in other European countries.


A story about regional and national reports of this appeared in the April 11 edition of The New York Times.


The declines are said to be impacting even common species, generalists in habitat and food preferences, species adapted to living among humans.


This report follows another detailing what is termed a “devastating” loss in insects in Germany. Insects are reported to have declined by nearly 80 percent in the past 40 years. 


This loss is thought to be happening throughout Europe.


France and other European countries are experiencing significant expansion of land being used for agriculture and chemicals used to control insects. 


Loss of habitat and a food mainstay are possible (probable?)

causes of shrinking bird numbers, here as well as in Europe.


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