Neighborhood Watch is for the birds

Enjoyed reading the posts from SLB and Jenn….and hope that all is well, SLB, after your dental appointment. The sunset you described must have been beautiful and would have made an equally beautiful picture had the light been better.

As far as the migration is concerned, I keep reading reports from the Nova Scotia rare bird alert and some Brdbrain members that it has indeed started.  I haven’t seen any evidence of migrants to our yard, but there’s always hope that those coveted Warblers will show up.

In the meantime, watching the behavior of birds can be interesting.  For the past couple of nights, around 8:30 p.m., the constant “chipping” of several Hairy Woodpeckers and the “clucking” of several Robins, alerts me to the fact that something is wrong.  Going outside, I head towards the area where the birds are making a racket.  In this case, it’s a walk down the hill towards the river, with the noise getting louder as I near the birds.  Joining the WP and Robins is one lone Common Grackle and a red squirrel….a very odd chorus, to be sure.  Just as I get to the edge of the river and look to my left, I spot a Barred Owl flying deeper into the woods.  The Woodpeckers and Robins follow it and continue their chattering.  With a Barred Owl, I believe the red squirrel was more likely to be the main dinner entree.  Not wanting to go any further into the woods, I went back to the house, knowing that the birds will not stop their chattering until the Owl has had enough and leaves the area.  It’s the birds’ version of a Neighborhood Watch, alerting all the birds to a bird that has murder on its mind.  This is the third time I’ve watched this behavior, which is something the Blue Jays and Crows do.  I was really surprised that Robins and Hairy Woodpeckers behave the same way.

As a matter of fact, yesterday morning, I heard the Jays making a racket and I know from past experience that it means there’s either an Owl or a Hawk that is being harassed. I walked up our driveway and found where the Jays were, as I watched them flying back and forth in a thicket of woods, keeping up a constant racket with their distress calls.  Try as I might, I could not find the bird that was the object of their attention.  Perhaps it was the Barred Owl, as they do hunt during the day, but it may have been a Hawk, as we have seen Sharp-shinned and Goshawks flying through the yard, trying to take one of “my” birds.  Whenever I find a bunch of feathers on the lawn, it means the Hawk was successful in getting a meal.   I would hate to see that happen in my presence.

Blue Jays happen to be one of my favorite birds, Jenn.  They are clever, and their close relative, the Crow, is one of the smartest birds.  While I enjoy watching the Jays, they do tend to scare off the smaller birds.  In fact, I noticed fewer small birds at the suet and sunflower feeders in the back of the house, which is normally where they tend to be.  So, today, I moved some feeders around, putting one that is only accessible to small birds on the roof overhang in the back of the house.  The peanut feeder and another large feeder were removed from the overhang and relocated to the front yard.  With no feeders accessible to them in the backyard, I hope the Jays leave that area to the small birds.  Shortly after I did this, I noticed a Red-breasted Nuthatch at one of the feeders I had just hung up.  These birds, one of the friendliest, have been conspicuous by their absence.  Did my intervention work?  Time will tell.

Jenn, I do hope your White-winged Dove wasn’t taken by the cat.  It’s always sad to have any bird taken, whether by a cat or a bird of prey.  With birds of prey, that’s nature, but with cats, it is preventable but it means educating their owners, although far too often it may be feral cats.  If the feral cat colonies in Brevard County are a huge problem, let’s hope something is done about it.  It’s mind boggling to think that it is possible for feral cat colonies to multiply into the thousands very quickly.

Here’s a White Pelican that was observed at Ft. De Soto this past March. Remember this one, SLB, and how you wanted to get out of the van immediately once you realized that it was a bird you had never seen before…..


Time to post a picture on the WBIT? site for ID help…happy birding, everyone.   Jo


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