February/March 2016

by Patti Muzny

Spring has sprung up all around us and it’s always fun to be able to spend some quality time out of our homes and absorb the sights and sounds of a new season.  A few household dust bunnies and a pile of paperwork don’t affect me as much as it should, I guess. I will choose the outside world of nature. 

A few weeks ago our back yard was picked as a stopping place for hundreds of grackles and Red-winged Blackbirds.  For over a week they shrieked and gobbled up every morsel of birdseed available.  They even chased off the generous population of White-winged and Eurasian Collared Doves.  This invasion happens every year as these birds migrate. 

One Saturday afternoon I was taking a break from flowerbed weeding and had curled up on the lawn furniture under our patio to rest.  On the shelf of our gas grill we had left a piece of a limb that had a woodpecker hole in it.  Didn’t even think about wrens or chickadees spotting it.  We have various birdhouses on our acre with various hole sizes.

I sat very still and a Bewick’s Wren flitted up to the piece of wood with a small white dove feather in its beak.  It enthusiastically made several attempts to get that feather into the woodpecker hole.  Finally it gave it up and flew away, dropping the feather into the yard.  Currently there is a lot of singing and fussing going on in our yard. We’ll see which home site Mama chooses this year.

Another evening I watched a male Eastern Bluebird flapping his wings and singing his heart out in the top of our large pecan tree.  We have a few bluebird houses, but the English Sparrows are incredibly aggressive and have claimed the favored bluebird house.  I just keep hoping. And I hope there is a female Bluebird in the neighborhood.

On the weekend of the Backyard Bird Count (February 13-14, 2016), we counted birds in our backyard on Saturday and at Byars on Sunday. In Oklahoma City we tallied 25 species, including a nearly all-white English Sparrow and at Byars we had 40 species, including a surprisingly large and unusual number of 25 Purple Finches – 15 at our feeder and 10 down along our creek. We also got to add 4 American Woodcocks that displayed just after sunset.

On March 6th, I was hiking on our Byars property and found a sheltered copse of trees out of the wind and was thoroughly fussed at by a pair of Carolina Chickadees.  I began to “pish” and suddenly that copse of trees was chock-full of birds.  There were Chickadees, Field Sparrows, White-throated Sparrows, Fox Sparrows, Purple Finch, a Towhee, 25-30 Robins, Cardinals, a Sapsucker and a Downy Woodpecker.  Quite a treat on a windy, mild Sunday afternoon.  Enjoy Spring!