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Birds, glorious birds!

One of the things I love best about my home lies outside the walls. It’s the abundance of birds that visit my yard. I wish I could say they were here to see me, but they’re just visiting the feeders. Today, they came in droves. Well, I guess “flocks” is a more accurate term.

Whether it was the cooler weather, or light rain, I can’t be sure – but the birds were plentiful.

At one point I looked outside, and saw common sparrows, mourning doves, a pair of Eastern bluebirds, brown-headed cowbirds, grackles, a pair of cardinals and several goldfinches – all sharing among the four tree-hanging feeders at the same time. It was heaven. And I observed them closely with binoculars.

Just moments later, I passed by my front living room and saw wings fly past the window. When I approached I heard the insistent peeping that can only be baby birds. There they were – two small, but well-developed mockingbirds. Their notoriously aggressive parents were flipping about, and when they noticed me at the window, the mama or daddy (I can’t tell them apart) abandoned the babies and took flight. So, I snapped a photo and left the room. I’m happy to report that when I went back an hour later, all were gone.

Here’s those little babies on my front sidewalk:

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And here’s the a photo of the most American Goldfinches I have ever seen in my yard at one time. I counted fourteen in this picture!

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And just as I am sitting here writing this, more wings fluttering past the window caught my eye. (I might be part feline the way birds have a way of getting my attention) When I got up, I was surprised to find a red fox in my yard! I ran to grab the camera, which was connected to my computer. When I got back this was the best photo I could snap as it was running off. Do you see it? I’ve circled his bushy tail. The wings I had seen belonged to the mockingbird parents. They were dive-bombing that fox! I’ve seen them do that to crows before – but this was pretty ballsy!

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In other bird-related excitement, another pair of Eastern Bluebirds are making a nest in our outdoor abode. A pair made a nest in the newspaper section of my mail box both last year and this past Spring. The babies did not hatch in either instance. Last year I could understand – it was extremely hot – with days in the 90’s and above. We assumed the eggs just fried in there. This year I don’t know what happened. One day the pair just stopped coming. I haven’t seen them for weeks. So, today when I saw a male and female popping in and out of my son’s hand-painted birdhouse, I was delighted!

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Other birds that make regular appearances in the winter include woodpeckers, the adorable tufted titmouse, nut-hatch (those gravity-defying birds that literally walk down tree trunks) and black-capped chickadees. Other spring and summer birds include the red-headed little house finch (which I saw on my front porch today – I swear, I’m not lying, this was a good bird-watching day!), and when we’re really lucky – the indigo bunting, the brightest, all-over blue bird I have ever seen.

If you live in Northern Virginia like I do, you can see all of the birds I mentioned in your own backyards, or on this great website, where I go regularly to identify new visitors to my yard: http://www.pwconserve.org/wildlife/birds/index.html.

I love sharing my space with these little feathered creatures, and get so much enjoyment from watching them chase one another, eat, and splash around in the bird-bath. Even Saxon is starting to know their names. Now if I could get the image-capture feature on my binoculars to work, we’d really get some awesome photos!

Happy birding friends!

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