East Texas Naturalist Blog

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They're MINE ALL MINE!!!!! The Mockingbird's new song

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My bird feeders have been sort of a neutral zone all Spring.  There has been a wide variety of birds frequenting them and there have been very few skirmishes.  Not at all like the hummingbird feeders which are the scene of daily wars between the various hummers.  The seed and suet feeders have been relatively peaceful.  Of course, there have been some issues.  Some as simple as the bigger birds chase off the smaller birds, but even that was relatively calm.  I have not seen much really aggresive behavior.

That all changed when the first mockingbird fledgling appeared.  All at once the parent mockingbirds have claimed the feeders.  No other birds are allowed to feed without being harassed.  That includes the seed feeders which the mockingbirds don't use.  Any chickadee or titmouse that dares to try to feed will get a fast rush from one of the parent mockingbirds.  The rush is like a bullet.  It is the fastest flight I have seen by them at any other time.   The suet feeders, which the mockingbirds do use, are in the middle of the seed feeders but they don't care if the other birds are on the seed feeders or the suet feeders, the offending birds are chased away.

Their viligance is not continuous.  There are long periods of time when the mockingbirds are not in sight.  So the feeders are still available for most of the day, but when the mockingbirds return, they stay at least a few minutes chasing the other birds away. Once the other birds quit trying to feed the mockingbirds fly off.  The mockingbirds are there fairly constantly during early morning feeding times and near dusk. Inbetween running the other birds off, they spend a fair amount of time feeding the fledglings.  The fledglings fly to the parents and bob their heads up and down while making a soft screeching sound as they wait for the parent to drop some food into their mouths.  

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Second Followup on the Mystery Bird and More

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Well, I solved the mystery.  The Mystery Bird mystery.  I found a new tool that is really quite incredible.  It is the Merlin Bird Id by Cornell Lab of Orintholgy.  This is an app for iPhone (and other smart phones).  Easy as can be to use and zeroes right in on identifying birds.

In this case the bird was a Ruby Crowned Kinglet.  The first I have ever seen.  

If you are a birder, you likely already know of this tool, but if not check it out.  Just Google "Merlin Bird Id".

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Followup On Mystery Bird

Well, the mystery bird from yesterday apparently has no watch.  I sat beneath the same tree today, at the same time, but the tree was rather empty today.

It was rather a dull day for a wouldbe birder.  There were a few of the usual old "friends" that I see almost everyday.  Just as I was about to head back in I looked up and there went a bald eagle.  His head was glowing in the light of the sitting sun and, I hate to use a cliche, but he looked majestic.  

Nice way to end the day.  

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Bald Eagle Observations

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On my walk today, I had a bit of an adventure.  It was rather overcast and damp so I just walked along the lake.

I took some interesting pictures of a spider on the covered dock and a few "landscapes".  I just missed a Great Blue Heron but he was too skidish and didn't give me a chance to even raise the camera.  There was also a Phoebee but in the dim light, I just couldn't get a good shot as he did not sit still for long.

Just as I was heading back uphill to my RV, a large bird flew overhead towards the bridge on Hwy 155.  I saw a flash of white.  At first I thought it was a heron, maybe with a plastic bag stuck to his foot or with an abeherant white tail.  Then I saw the flight was not that on a heron.  I realized that it was the bald eagle that I have heard lived in the area, but who had avoided me for the four months I have been here.  

He landed on he concrete slope by the bridge as I moved back toward the parking lot by the lake to try to get a shot of him.  Then he flew straight to the twin cypress just outside of the little cove by the marina and landed about half way up. I was shooting with a 200mm lens in dim light and hand held.  I knew the images would not be good, but I was getting the best shot I could.  I slowly walked forward to the closest point, expecting him to fly off at any moment.  I managed to get all the way to the edge of the water, maybe 100 yards away.  He watched me the whole way. Perhaps attracted by my red shirt, but did not leave.  For about five minutes, I kept taking his picture, know that the images would not be very good as he was too far away for my 200mm lens and the light was quite dim.

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OMG! I Have Become a Birder

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Not long after I got here, I put up a hummingbird feeder and a suet feeder.  I immediately had hummers, chickadees and Titmice.  Before long I had seen Red Headed Woodpeckers, Red Bellied Woodpeckers, Downey Woodpeckers, and a variety of other species.  

The next time I went to my storage unit, I dug out my bird books from my dozens of field guides.  Then I started boneing up on the ones I was seeing.

Of course,I prowled the internet looking for information on local birds.

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