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Tag Archives: Tree Swallow

I have found that birds are easier to view when I am in my kayak than when I am walking around. The birds don’t perceive a person in a boat to be as big a threat as a person on the ground. The kayak provides a good point of view for some of the smaller songbirds which often elude me, leaving me to guess their species by a call or a song. I struggle with birding by ear, especially the warblers and Empidonax flycatchers. Except Willow Flycatchers. They have a distinctive call that sounds like ‘fitzbuuu’.

The Pileated Woodpecker was seen from our campsite. The Yellow-rumped Warbler darted back and forth catching bugs above the water. There were baby Song Sparrows along the lakeshore and adults singing and calling from the shrubs above. Red-winged Blackbirds NEVER perch still for me to get a photo. Never. An Empidonax flycatcher waited for insects in between its frequent ‘fitzbuuu’ calls. See the crack in that snag? In the next photo, look carefully for the departing Tree Swallow. They are fast. I waited and waited to get that one image. I have several of the bird’s tail feathers flying away. The Yellow Warbler was lovely in the green alder leaves. Coots were elusive in the marshy area of the lake, quickly gathering their bright orange chicks and moving them into cover. An Eastern Kingbird gracefully hurled a pellet while I was making its photo. I came across the Killdeer family while on a drive about.

Of course, there were loons. And another highlight, not photographed, was a Sora with babies!

We are happy to see these colorful birds back to nest in our dead trees. This is the second year we have observed them nesting here. This particular bird was perched on a snag in front of our house, surveying its surroundings and being harassed by a Tree Swallow. The swallows normally use that perch and they were not happy to have this woodpecker in their space.

All About Birds has this to say about the Lewis’s Woodpecker: The Lewis’s Woodpecker might have woodpecker in its name, but it forages like a flycatcher and flies like a crow. It has a color palette all its own, with a pink belly, gray collar, and dark green back unlike any other member of its family. From bare branches and posts, it grabs insects in midair, flying with slow and deep wingbeats. It calls open pine forests, woodlands, and burned forests home, but it often wanders around nomadically outside of the breeding season in search of nuts. Lewis’s Woodpeckers nest mainly in holes and crevices created by other woodpeckers or created naturally in dead and decaying trees (snags). They nest in cottonwood, ponderosa pine, paper birch, white pine, and other trees that are starting to decay. On occasion they nest in live trees. Lewis’s Woodpeckers are uncommon and their populations declined by 72% between 1970 and 2014, according to Partners in Flight

They are beautiful birds, iridescent in the sunshine with colors that seem out of place in a burned forest. Once the woodpecker gave up its perch, the Tree Swallow moved right back.

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