All Photos posted on this blog unless otherwise noted were taken by me with my Canon Rebel XTI using a 300 mm zoom lens

Sunday, December 27, 2009

Thank Heavens for Backyard Feeders

It's been more than a month since I had any time to go birding and the last time was with a group of Boy Scouts working on their Bird Study Merit Badge. Here are a few of my backyard visitors.

American Goldfinch and Pine Siskin


European Starling


Spotted Towhee

Dark Eyed Junco Oregon Race

Dark Eyed Junco Slate Colored Race

Downy Woodpecker

Northern Flicker Red-shafted

House Finch

Western Scrub Jay

California Quail

Eurasian Collared Dove

Sharp-shinned Hawk

I just realized that I have no pictures of the most common visitor to my backyard feeders, the House Sparrow. Mark Stackhouse once said while guiding us on a tour of Deseret Ranch that many birders fail to list birds like house sparrows, rock pigeons and starlings because they are all so common. I guess it's true. 

Tuesday, December 1, 2009


Last December I decided to spotlight a different bird species every month, it's hard to believe that a whole year has already gone by. Here is a list of 2009's birds of the month including last December which was the first month I spot lighted a bird.

December 2008 Bufflehead

  January 2009 Merlin

  February 2009 Cedar Waxwing

  March 2009 American White Pelican

 April 2009 American Wigeon

  May 2009 Marsh Wren

 June 2009 American Avocet

 June 2009 Black-necked Stilt

 July 2009 Bald Eagle

  August 2009 Western Scrub Jay

  September 2009 Wilson's Phalarope

 October 2009 Loggerhead Shrike

November 2009 Black-capped Chickadee

December 2009 House Finch

Monday, November 30, 2009


Next to the House Sparrow the House Finch is the most frequent visitor to my backyard bird feeders. In spring I love to hear their melodious song in the tops of our neighborhood trees.
The House Finch is a recent introduction from western into eastern North America (and Hawaii), but it has received a warmer reception than other arrivals like the European Starling and House Sparrow. That’s partly due to the cheerful red head and breast of males, and to the bird’s long, twittering song, which can now be heard in most of the neighborhoods of the continent. If you haven’t seen one recently, chances are you can find one at the next bird feeder you come across.
Typical Voice
  • Size & Shape

    House Finches are small-bodied finches with fairly large beaks and somewhat long, flat heads. The wings are short, making the tail seem long by comparison. Many finches have distinctly notched tails, but the House Finch has a relatively shallow notch in its tail.
  • Color Pattern

    Adult males are rosy red around the face and upper breast, with streaky brown back, belly and tail. In flight, the red rump is conspicuous. Adult females aren’t red; they are plain grayish-brown with thick, blurry streaks and an indistinctly marked face.
  • Behavior

    House Finches are gregarious birds that collect at feeders or perch high in nearby trees. When they’re not at feeders, they feed on the ground, on weed stalks, or in trees. They move fairly slowly and sit still as they shell seeds by crushing them with rapid bites. Flight is bouncy, like many finches.
  • Habitat

    House Finches frequent city parks, backyards, urban centers, farms, and forest edges across the continent. In the western U.S., you’ll also find House Finches in their native habitats of deserts, grassland, chaparral, and open woods.
    House Finch Range Map


Sunday, November 1, 2009


A bird almost universally considered “cute” thanks to its oversized round head, tiny body, and curiosity about everything, including humans. The chickadee’s black cap and bib; white cheeks; gray back, wings, and tail; and whitish underside with buffy sides are distinctive. Its habit of investigating people and everything else in its home territory, and quickness to discover bird feeders, make it one of the first birds most people learn.

  • Behavior

    Black-capped Chickadees seldom remain at feeders except to grab a seed to eat elsewhere. They are acrobatic and associate in flocks—the sudden activity when a flock arrives is distinctive. They often fly across roads and open areas one at a time with a bouncy flight.

  • Habitat

    Chickadees may be found in any habitat that has trees or woody shrubs, from forests and woodlots to residential neighborhoods and parks, and sometimes weedy fields and cattail marshes. They frequently nest in birch or alder trees.

 Black-capped Chickadee Range Map

Red-tails, Song Sparrows and a Meadowlark

I spent a couple of hours at the Nature Center yesterday, didn't see anything out of the ordinary but got a few good pictures.