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Tag Archives: birds

Maybe November is the longest month. November 2020 for sure. Now I know why I have traveled in November the last two years. October is a lovely month in the Methow. I’ll have to rethink my travel plans for next year.

The weather brought early snow which seemed wonderful at first and for sure, groomed ski trails are in terrific shape for so early in the season. Walking, that’s another thing. The trails are icy and uneven and the rest of the snow is crusty and dangerous for the dogs. Some days we get sun which is glorious and watching it unfold across the hillsides is a sight to be seen. But many days are gray. Gray. Like today.

The birds don’t seem to mind too much, except for when it snows. We keep the feeders filled and I think they appreciate it. One morning, there was a leucistic House Finch. Leucism is a partial loss of pigmentation, which can make an animal have white or patchily colored skin, hair, or feathers.

These bright red birds are delight to see anytime but in the snow their vibrant color really pops! Crossbills are a member of the finch family – like American Goldfinches, House Finches, Pine Siskins and Pine Grosbeaks. They use their crossed beaks to break into pine cones and get the nutritious seeds. They will also come to feeders for sunflower seeds. I have read that if they have sufficient food, they can breed anytime of the year. Before the fire we observed them here year-round. Now they are just an occasional visitor to our feeders. They must miss our pine trees as much as we do.

We just returned from a winter trip to Yellowstone National Park. For some people, that might seem counter intuitive but for me, it’s been a long time coming – a real bucket list trip. Now that I’ve gone once, I can’t wait to visit there in the winter again.

While we saw lots of charismatic megafauna and I had opportunities to photograph many of them, my favorite photos from the trip are these of the Common Ravens in the Tower Junction area. This pair seemed to dominate the parking lot where there was a dumpster, recycling bins and toilets. I have no doubt that they are true scavengers living off what we humans leave behind. I think they also were very used to people and have probably been fed many times. When another pair of ravens flew overhead, these two hopped up and down on a snowbank making threatening calls. I think they were saying “Get out of here, this is our place.” They are beautiful and smart birds.

This female Western Bluebird stopped by here recently. She probably raised a batch or two of youngsters in one of our nest boxes this summer.

Lots of birds have successfully nested on our hillside this year – American Robins, Say’s Phoebes, Western and Mountain Bluebirds, House Wrens, Tree and Violet-green Swallows, Bullock’s Orioles and more. The biggest highlight has been our Nice Nests kestrel box hosting its first successful nest of American Kestrels. Four birds were raised and got out of the box and were standing around on branches up until a few days ago. That is the branchling stage. Now they are out doing flying and hunting lessons. I hope they stay here and work on our rodent population. And I hope they return next year. We have another kestrel box that hasn’t been used yet!

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