During the past couple of days we have been seeing a big flock of Cedar Waxwings here in our neighborhood. It is likely that there are several hundred birds in the flock. These birds slightly resemble the Tufted Titmice in that they have a top-knot but they are larger, are a rosy beige with yellow, white and black markings. They Cedar Waxwings also have the appearance of a faint smokey-black eye mask. I really like these cuties!
The Cedar Waxwings like eating berries (such as the Juniper berries seen in some of these photographs) and small nuts. They also eat insects but generally are seed-eaters. They can sometimes become drunk from eating fermenting berries! What a thing! Please click on the thumbnail image to see the slightly larger photo. Enjoy!
Sand Hill Cranes are both migratory and resident birds here in Florida. I recently saw several Sand Hill Cranes in the fresh water marshy grasslands of the Paynes Prairie State Park near Gainesville, Florida. These huge light grey birds walk upright while browsing the grasslands for grains, worms, and snails. These handsome birds have a red patch above their bill, and up between their eyes.
Sand Hill Cranes are really neat to see when they are flying. I had a pair fly right overhead when I was at the park. In one photo I took, a pair of Sand Hill Cranes is looking up. That happened right when a hawk flew by. There were several hawks around that day. I took these pictures on December 16, 2013. Please click on the thumbnail image to see the larger picture. Enjoy!
The Red-headed Woodpecker that was pecking or drumming on the rain gutter on my porch roof the other day (4/18/12), was simply getting itself a cool drink of rain water. At first, I thought that one of the newly arrived flock of Red-headed Woodpeckers was trying to drill a hole either in the siding of my home or on the tin metal roof of my porch. It turns out, the bird simply was thirsty. The Red-headed Woodpeckers like eating, and in general, being up high, I think.
It makes sense that the bird would rather perch and drink up on the roof where it could scout out the territory and keep an eye on all the other birds and animals. The alternative would be for the bird to land and walk to the pond and dip or fly and try to quickly dip before any large predator might catch it. I keep hearing the calls of the Red-headed Woodpeckers as well as other kinds of woodpeckers, here in the area of my little farm. Please click on the thumbnail image to see the larger picture. Enjoy!
Barn Swallows are seasonal migrants that like to spend the Spring and Summer in our area here in Cumberland County, TN. They spend the Winter down South where it is warm. Smart birds! The swallows make nests out of mud and straw that they build on the walls of structures such as barns and sheds and occasionally, houses. The nests are usually made in groups. Some swallows return to the same nest year after year. A famous colony of swallows is at the historical California Mission, San Juan Capistrano, near San Diego, CA. The swallows often return to that mission about the same date every year like clock-work! Amazing!
Barn Swallows are great fly-catching birds. The Barn Swallow is brown with a bluish head and an area of orange near the throat and upper chest. They are small birds about the same size as a bluebird. I am happy to have spotted the birds here. One was sitting on the electric line and two were on the dirt pile picking up some building material, or maybe just hunting for insects. I took these pictures here on April 10, 2012. Please click on the thumbnail image to see the larger picture. Enjoy!
We spent the morning of December 24, 2011 bird watching at the Hiwassee Wildlife Refuge near Dayton, TN. This fine refuge is operated by the State of Tennessee and was chock-full of Sand Hill Cranes. There were hundreds of them. Sometimes there are also Whooping Cranes but I did not see any while I was there. I also spotted a couple of Bald Eagles and a flock of ducks. A few cranes were in fields a little closer to the platform but the majority were way out on the shoreline of the small lake or in the pastures and cornfields.
Sand Hill Cranes are large grey birds with a patch of red skin showing on the top of their heads when they are mature. These cranes eat grains and seeds and plants. They have migrated South from places such as the upper Mid-western states. The cranes stop over at Hiwassee for the Winter and enjoy a safe place with good food and water. This refuge is about 40 miles Northeast of Chattanooga, TN. I am sure I’ll be visiting there again! By the way, if you do visit this refuge, bring binoculars, or a telescope and use a long zoom lens to take your pictures. The viewing platform is a long way from the birds on most occasions (sometimes cranes will feed up closer to the platform but this depends on the birds).
I will be showing part one of a two-part series on the Sandhill Cranes there at Hiwassee. Please click on the thumbnail image to see the larger picture. Enjoy!