17 April 2009

Great Blue Heron

The Great Blue Heron is the official bird of Seattle. I occasionally see them along Alki. It stands 42 to 50 inches.

16 April 2009


A couple Baldy's flew over yesterday. This is what reminded me I wanted to do some posts about birds/birdwatching. There was an adolescent and an adult. Here is a poor picture of the adult. They were probably 300 - 400 feet above me. Anyone who has been a faithful reader of my blog will probably remember the Baldy that came to visit in 2007.

15 April 2009

This post is for the birds man!

I don't know if it has something to do with growing old but last year I started bird watching. Growing up in the desert few birds interested me. The Roadrunner, Quail, humming birds outside of my parents house. The Red Tail Hawks and owls but not too much else. Moving to Seattle birds became a little more interesting. There are tons of waterfowl which I had never seen before. Bald Eagles and Osprey, although I didn't know they were osprey until later.

We put out humming bird feeders and started watching them from our deck and through the windows. Then some tiny birds (almost as small as the hummers) would come by in pairs and little flocks, depending on the season. I wanted to know what these were and start feeding/attracting them so I purchased a few bird watching books and looking around on the web. That's when my passion really started to grow. This is also the point where I learned the Osprey were called Osprey. The little birds are called Bushtits and I started providing them with suet. I had always thought that when birds migrate that they travel only a few hundred miles. Now I learned that many of our summer birds here in Seattle travel all the way to South America. This, by the way, is why you should buy shade grown coffee. Shade grown coffee plantations in Mexico, central and South America leave existing native trees and grow coffee underneath. They only clear out the underbrush to plant coffee. Our summer birds that migrate south still have trees to nest in on shade grown coffee plantations.

I then found a "yard bird" race on the web. The race is a year long and to win you identify as many birds as you can from your "yard". While I didn't enter I had my own personal little race.
Here are the results -

1 American Robin 1.18
2 Anna's Hummingbird 1.18
3 Barn Swallow 5.27
4 Bewick’s Wren 2.25
5 Black-Capped Chickadee 5.05
6 Bushtit 2.21
7 California Gull 1.18
8 Canada Goose 5.28
9 Chipping Sparrow 5.05
10 Common Tern 6.14
11 Crow 1.18
12 Dark-eyed Junco - Oregon form 1.28
13 European Starling 1.26
14 Golden-Crowned Kinglet 5.03
15 House Sparrow 1.18
16 Northern Flicker 2.20
17 Pine Siskin 5.30
18 Ruby-Crowned Kinglet 2.03
19 Rock Pigeon 1.28
20 Steller's Jay 2.28
21 Violet-Green Swallow 5.19
22 Western Tanager 5.08

Sub Total - 22
All of which were viewed from my 4th floor balcony. We also are fortunate to have trees growing up between out building and the building next to ours so many birds will land there.

In addition I also identified these birds around the city -

1 American Coot 4.07
2 Bald Eagle 1.21
3 Barrow’s Goldeneye – male & female 2.04
4 Black Turnstone 2.04
5 Bonaparte’s Gull 3.28
6 Brant 3.28
7 Brewer’s Blackbird 4.27
8 Bufflehead – female & male 2.04
9 Common Goldeneye - male & female 1.31
10 Chestnut-backed Chickadee 1.30
11 Gadswell 4.07
12 Great Blue Heron 2.04
13 Hairy Woodpecker 5.28
14 Hooded Merganser 2.05
15 Horned Grebe 2.03
16 Mallard 4.07
17 Merlin 1.29
18 Osprey 9.02
19 Peregrine Falcon 5.18
20 Red-breasted Merganser – male & female 2.04
21 Red-winged Blackbird 4.27
22 Ruby-crowned Kinglet 1.30
23 Sanderling 3.28
24 Spotted Towhee 1.30
25 Surf Scoter 1.31
26 Varied Thrush 1.30
27 Western Grebe 2.04
28 White Crowned Sparrow 4.01
29 White-winged Scoter 1.31

Sub Total - 30
Total – 51

Bird watching blends well with 2 of my other favorite hobbies; cycling and photography.