I was recently granted access to a large tract of private land in the Maxwelton Valley. I find this valuable on a couple of different levels. One is that it is at the confluence of the Maxwelton watershed. The area is rich in bird activity. Secondly, since it is private land, there is very little human disturbance. Neither I nor the birds are disturbed by someone walking their dog, or getting their daily exercise at the same time that I am trying to focus. Makes a huge difference. Ebey’s Landing, a public place, used to be a super place to watch Common Loons up and down the shore. I drive by when I am in the neighborhood now, but I seldom stop. Too many people, all having a good time, but not at all sensitive to the wildlife. I haven’t seen a Loon there in at least a couple of years, if not much longer.
I talked to Steve today about this bird’s gender. As it turns out, you have to be a geneticist to know. Generally speaking (according to Steve) females heads are more flat, and they have longer beaks. There is no empirical standard. They are just compared to each other. Which means that both sexes look pretty much alike and mostly skill at sexing these birds is just practiced experience.
I was out cleaning up a bit around my driveway and garage, a little while ago, when a Piliated Woodpecker flew into the wooded lot next door, loudly announcing his presence. And, of course, my camera was in the house. They are gorgeous birds and not seen too often. Oh, well!
As much as I love birds, they really aren’t the only thing in my life. However, they are important. Said driveway was getting quite cluttered because I have had “more important things to do” like chase birds. The exotics, like the woodpecker, are few and far between, but there are lots, and I mean lots, of Juncos, Song Sparrows, Chickadees, Red-wing Blackbirds, Robins, Starlings, Eagles, Great Blue Herons, Towhees, Mallards, and depending upon the season and location many, many more. Like a good Boy Scout, I need to be prepared and appreciate what I have.
I have just realized that a Blog requires me to make entries for you to comment on. OK, so what would you like to talk about? I know that a lot of you are either overwhelmed with email or other social media posts, or don’t know, or particularly care to get involved more than you already are. I get it. Virtual reality is not my cup of tea either, but this is the way we communicate these days. There is always a new technology that portends to make life better somehow, but adds its own difficulties in getting to that place of Nirvana.
Scattered over this page, you will see little hyperlinks (green type) that say “comment”. If you click your cursor over one of these, you will open a window that will allow you to talk to me directly on the website. I certainly appreciate and will not discourage the emails that you send me. This is just a different way of communicating, perhaps a little more direct.
So, I’m going to call it an evening. I will check my stockings in the morning and see what Santa has brought me. Peace and good will to all of you.
Every Friday morning, I meet with five other gentlemen (they will appreciate this – being gentlemen) for coffee and conversation. Four of our bunch are deep into birds. Two are accomplished gardeners, (where better to find birds than in a well appointed garden). We have an accomplished ornithologist (that’s a bird scientist, if you didn’t know), a professional falconer, an author, and a photographer (which is me). All of us have had profound exposure to the environment, and consequently a deep appreciation for it, whether through our work, our upbringing or both.
Last Friday, we examined the above photograph that I had taken earlier in the week. I knew that it was a Cooper’s Hawk, but Steve, the falconer, told me that it was a male, probably two years old. I’ll have to ask again about the gender. I don’t know what clues he saw. But the eye and breast color established age. First year birds have a lighter and streaked pattern on their breasts. The eye color gets deeper and more vibrant as the bird ages. Older birds will have dark red eyes.
I also learned that even this fellow’s choice of perch has significance. Even as Cooper’s Hawks prey upon smaller birds, they themselves are vulnerable to bigger birds, like Red-tailed Hawks. The surrounding tree branches provide a level of protection from sudden and unseen attacks. Life is too precious to leave anything to happenstance.
I would like more conversation around the birds. I learn all kinds of things every day that I would like to share with you, and I know that you have comments and questions. So let’s do it. I have another blog page on this website that deals with the everyday business of being human, and it’s all good, if that’s what you want to talk about, or not. But this is just for the birds!