Tuesday, January 27, 2009

Yard Eco, Jan '09 Edition

The American Robins turned up Sunday, along with a big flock of blackbirds: mostly or entirely redwings, as far as I could see. I had actually been hearing the blackbirds in trees around the neighborhood since late the previous week; they just hadn't visited our yard. Yesterday there were quite a few common grackles around and one pair hung around the feeders a bit, the male actually on the feeder while the female kept to the gound nearby.

A few goldfinches have come back to the feeders recently after a brief hiatus. They are just beginning to get their breeding plumage. I only see about three at a time, usually, though I suppose things will pick up as it gets warmer. Several house finches are also hanging around. One of the females had awful conjunctivitis with the left eye swollen shut. She may have ridden it out as I later noticed a female with a sticky-looking patch of feathers just behind and below her left eye. Dark-eyed juncos have been hanging out under the feeders, occasionally flying up to browse there directly, in groups of perhaps a dozen. Chipping sparrows are frequenting the feeders as usual, as are quite a few mourning doves.

As always, there is the local pair of cardinals. I think they are a new pair. The male that held down our yard last year lost all the feathers on his head (whether through disease or an encounter with something bigger and meaner than he was I'm not sure) and looked like a pint-sized red vulture for several weeks before we lost track of him. It's possible he grew them back, I suppose, but the male there now looks more youthful and less battered. Could be offspring, I suppose, as the old pair seemed to be pretty successful at fledging youngsters every summer.

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