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Lily Valley

BIRDS (and how to look at them)

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Could be Cattle Egrets or could be Snowy Egrets. Or could be juvenile Little Blue Herons. Key is to look at bill shape and color. Cattle Egrets have yellow-orange bills; Snowy Egrets have thin black bills; juvenile Little Blues have blueish-grey bills with a black tip.

And glad to see my suspicion turned out to be true -- when you described the black birds with speckled bellies, my very first thought was "non-breeding European Starling." You'll get used to seeing the patterns -- the key is to not get frustrated with yourself. Some of us have been looking at these feathered bastards for our entire lives. 

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My uncle's old house had a nice patch of woods behind it near the river and the wild turkeys loved it. It was always fun to have Thanksgiving dinner there and watch them as we munched on their cousin. His current house is right on the Mississippi, so now we are treated to the bald eagles. Even in places around here (Iowa) not near a river, the eagles are not a completely uncommon sight. I'm always surprised and a little awed when I see them because I still consider them endangered. Hard to shake that habit.

I had a truly awesome experience with a bird years ago. I was in Alaska with my father and we were driving through a forested area. The area itself was amazing with these huge, vibrant ferns that seemed primeval - like I'd gone back in time, so I was already in a kind of zen place. I spotted a very large raven sitting on a tree stump ahead of us. As we drove up to it, it lifted off and flew right beside us. I don't know for how long, but it seemed like forever in the moment. In my mind it was like a cinematic tracking shot, the car keeping pace with the bird perfectly. I swear I could hear the rustling of it's feathers. When it flew up, it was like a spell had broken. I'm not a spiritual person, but that small space of time was deeply affecting for me. I'd always had a fondness for the trickster raven god, and we were in Alaska because it's where I was born (but not raised) and he wanted to show it to me. Of all the very cool things we did and saw on that trip, that moment is still the most vivid and still the thing I think about most.

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I'm curious if there is anyone else who has trouble seeing birds?  Inspired by this thread, I've been trying to look at the birds to see what we have around here.  Came home and told everyone one day that it was so strange there were no birds in the area, they must have already migrated south.  Later the kids were pointing out birds all over the place.  When I really focused, I could see them, but it was like before that my eye glided right over them.

I did notice some geese at a local park, but they were the asshole variety that just want their humans to feed them and will chase you if you don't.  

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4 hours ago, Dr. Pepper said:

I'm curious if there is anyone else who has trouble seeing birds?  Inspired by this thread, I've been trying to look at the birds to see what we have around here.  Came home and told everyone one day that it was so strange there were no birds in the area, they must have already migrated south.  Later the kids were pointing out birds all over the place.  When I really focused, I could see them, but it was like before that my eye glided right over them.

I did notice some geese at a local park, but they were the asshole variety that just want their humans to feed them and will chase you if you don't.  

This is exactly what I am battling.  I have loved, loved, loved birds since I raised 2 starlings and a a robin.  I was 12.

After that, I've moved.  I can HEAR the birds and I can also SEE them, sometimes, but discerning species takes the same work as any other Goddamn science.  Much memorization and learning root-branch-tree classification.  I'm planning a lunch where I'll see over a hundred sparrows in a 2-hour time frame.  Hoping I can just look at the sparrows long enough to even see "eye stripe"  and "wattles".  

I am having the hardest time in my yard to see "not-pigeon".

This shit is hard.  Mad probst to our ornithologists.

 

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6 hours ago, Xray the Enforcer said:

Could be Cattle Egrets or could be Snowy Egrets. Or could be juvenile Little Blue Herons. Key is to look at bill shape and color. Cattle Egrets have yellow-orange bills; Snowy Egrets have thin black bills; juvenile Little Blues have blueish-grey bills with a black tip.

And glad to see my suspicion turned out to be true -- when you described the black birds with speckled bellies, my very first thought was "non-breeding European Starling." You'll get used to seeing the patterns -- the key is to not get frustrated with yourself. Some of us have been looking at these feathered bastards for our entire lives. 

I RAISED A COUPLE OF THOSE FUCKRS!  I'm just used to the juve / adult male flocks here.  They're so big.  They are humungus.  They are also vocally quite different than the big flocks of juvies I've recognized a mile away in the spring.  Motherfucking HUGE and they say, "CROW!  Crow!  CROW !  pew-pew-peEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEET!"

 

My boss also mentioned that where I live they'd be more likely to be larger.  He said, if they're better fed, in general, the birds may be larger and puffier (healthier plumed) than presented in common photos. I personally think it's a perspective issue of my new goggles.  I think the birds are MUCH LARGER than they are if they sit by a pigeon.

This week's adventure is sparrows.  There's only a thousand breeds, or so.  I plan to study the common house sparrow until I can identify m/f and age.

Edited by Lily Valley

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Has anyone ever fed wild birds? We have Gray Jays in the mountains where I live. We bring bird feed and feed them by hand on the mountain peaks. I have some awesome photos of them landing on my hands. 

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When some friends of mine bought a house out in the middle of nowhere, they set up lots of bird feeders. They got tons to come around and they loved watching them. They soon learned that what they had done was set up a hawk buffet. I don't think that's exactly what you're talking about though :P

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I had a bunch of suet feeder at my old place on the porch so the cat could watch them and make his hunting noises at them.  There was a lot of sumac and dead wood on the property so there were already tons of birds around.  But it made it fun being able to watch them all winter.  

I don't really like the idea of feeding wildlife, and this was a pretty glaring violation of that principle.  

Also had a Cooper's hawk slam into the window trying to snatch a Downy woodpecker off the feeder.  It shook it off like a champ but only after an explosion of feathers.  

I like watching birds but I'm done feeding them.   

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19 hours ago, zelticgar said:

Has anyone ever fed wild birds? We have Gray Jays in the mountains where I live. We bring bird feed and feed them by hand on the mountain peaks. I have some awesome photos of them landing on my hands. 

Bird feeders end up being a buffet for squirrels.

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I love Southern Australian magpies, even though they're terrifying when they swoop. I can still remember being taken aback when I saw ones from further north: only the southern ones have the brilliant white backs.

Here's an image:

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/File:Tasmanian_magpie_pair.jpg

Sadly, habitat loss has been decimating their numbers. They need certain angles of tree branch to nest in and, unlike other birds, they don't seem to be able to adjust to similar artificial places to nest like telegraph poles. :(

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On 11/22/2017 at 10:20 AM, zelticgar said:

Has anyone ever fed wild birds? We have Gray Jays in the mountains where I live. We bring bird feed and feed them by hand on the mountain peaks. I have some awesome photos of them landing on my hands. 

WOW!   Only sparrows are that unafraid here.  There's a cafe nearby that has outdoor seating and the sparrows will take crumbs from one's hand.  The robins, jays, crows and starlings aren't having us.

I put in 2 feeders, but nobody is interested YET.  I'll keep moving them about until they're in the right spot.  We need to plant some trees in the yard.  It's nothing but grass right now and all the neighbors have nice nesting trees and bird bushes.  So frustrating.

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8 minutes ago, Lily Valley said:

WOW!   Only sparrows are that unafraid here.  There's a cafe nearby that has outdoor seating and the sparrows will take crumbs from one's hand.  The robins, jays, crows and starlings aren't having us.

I put in 2 feeders, but nobody is interested YET.  I'll keep moving them about until they're in the right spot.  We need to plant some trees in the yard.  It's nothing but grass right now and all the neighbors have nice nesting trees and bird bushes.  So frustrating.

You can see some google photos for examples. Grays are an interesting bird. They hang out at all the high peaks in the Northeast and nip food from hikers. They stash food in holes of trees for the winter season. One of my favorite things to watch is someone who has never seen the Gray Jays fed from hand. My daughter calls it her "Disney Princess" moment. 

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4 minutes ago, zelticgar said:

You can see some google photos for examples. Grays are an interesting bird. They hang out at all the high peaks in the Northeast and nip food from hikers. They stash food in holes of trees for the winter season. One of my favorite things to watch is someone who has never seen the Gray Jays fed from hand. My daughter calls it her "Disney Princess" moment. 

AW!   I'll bet!  Birds are pure magic.  BIrds + kids are absolute wonderland.  <3  They're beautiful.  They look a little like our mockingbirds and those creatures have been entertaining me for decades.

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On 11/23/2017 at 0:19 AM, larrytheimp said:

I like watching birds but I'm done feeding them.   

Because of habitat destruction, food in feeders is often the only sustenance some birds get during migration. As such, unless you're really keen on doubling down on pushing an extinction event, I'd err on the side of feeding birds rather than not.

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3 hours ago, Xray the Enforcer said:

Because of habitat destruction, food in feeders is often the only sustenance some birds get during migration. As such, unless you're really keen on doubling down on pushing an extinction event, I'd err on the side of feeding birds rather than not.

Whoa.. good to know! 

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4 hours ago, Xray the Enforcer said:

Because of habitat destruction, food in feeders is often the only sustenance some birds get during migration. As such, unless you're really keen on doubling down on pushing an extinction event, I'd err on the side of feeding birds rather than not.

 

41 minutes ago, larrytheimp said:

Whoa.. good to know! 

Be careful what you feed them, though! ;) 

Almost all birds will eat meat or bread if it's offered to them, but most can't digest it. It's not hard to look up what to feed birds in your local area. In most cases, something like bread won't harm them in themselves, it's just they'll feel full and won't eat what they need to.

Insect meal and seeds are usually pretty good bets for lots of birds.

---

Some birds also only now nest in enclosures built by humans and have lost the ability to make their own. The materials and locations to do it themselves no longer exist. :( 

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20 hours ago, Xray the Enforcer said:

Because of habitat destruction, food in feeders is often the only sustenance some birds get during migration. As such, unless you're really keen on doubling down on pushing an extinction event, I'd err on the side of feeding birds rather than not.

I have a pair of crabapple trees in my front yard. Every spring I see migrating flocks of birds, especially cedar waxwings and grosbeaks, come to eat the berries for sustenance. Even robins will eat them if they arrive during a cold spell.

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well don't hate me but i read title as "birds and how to cook them"... was hoping to see dove breasts in cream sauce...but alas i am now just more educated...

...but still hungry

:devil:

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