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Monday, November 26, 2012

Among the missing

My third weekend of FeederWatching brought some unexpected entries to my list of observations and also some unexpected absences.

Yesterday afternoon, as I was scanning the trunks of trees for nuthatches and woodpeckers, I got a nice surprise. There, on one of my neighbor's pine trees was a Brown Creeper! These little birds are so inconspicuous that they can easily go unnoticed. I've only ever had one other sighting of the bird in my yard, even though I suspect they are present in fall and winter most years. I was able to watch this bird for several minutes as it crept up the trunk, poking its beak under and around the bark as it went. That observation made my day.

The neighbor's pine tree played a part in another unexpected observation. I happened to be looking up as a magnificent Red-tailed Hawk settled into the top of the tree. Unfortunately, he was positioned behind some branches and I was unable to get a clear picture of him. A few minutes later, a "murder" of crows - five in number - arrived and started harassing the hawk, mobbing him and trying to evict him from his perch. The big hawk ignored them, but a smaller hawk that I had not seen did not. A tiny American Kestrel was dislodged from another nearby tree and rose into the air where he was chased by three of the much larger birds. He soon flew out of my visual range and the American Crows went on about their business of stirring up mischief in the neighborhood, but I would never have known that the kestrel was there but for the action of those naughty crows.

On the other end of the spectrum, among the missing this weekend were Northern Cardinals and Blue Jays. Yes, these most ubiquitous of backyard birds were totally absent for the entire weekend. at least during the times that I was counting birds. In fact, thinking back over the past week, I don't think I've seen or heard either of those birds in the yard at all. Another mystery for me to ponder.  


  1. Strange how common birds disappear for weeks on end, isn't it? Until a female arrived on Friday, I hadn't see a Cardinal in our yards for a couple of months. Of course, their absence may be partly due to the Copper's Hawk that has moved into our street.

    1. It is a mystery, Jeff, and it seems to happen every year around this time. I have a resident Cooper's Hawk, too, and lately that big Red-tailed Hawk seems to have moved into the neighborhood. For the last couple of days though, bird activity has picked up considerably in my yard. Even a couple of cardinals have shown up.