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Funny….when we arrived in the Pacific Northwest this year in spring, we were excited to see trees and flowers blooming that we had not seen in many years, both planted and wild.  We were also very excited to see and hear our first cloud burst this fall.  We were not disappointed.   We love hearing the rain pouring down upon our roof while we are safe, clean and warm inside.  That last statement makes me think of all the Easterners without power, cold and not so warm.  Our hearts go out to them and we hope and pray that they will once again be safe, warm and dry.  Very soon.  It also makes me wonder what the Eastern weather has done concerning the fall bird migrations.  We would welcome any comments from you in the East concerning this.

This will most likely be my last post for Pacific Northwest Birds for a while but we will be posting again on Baja Birds soon.  We have now had enough of the rain and colder temps!  I thought it may be interesting for you to see some of our more common birds at this time of year while in the Pacific Northwest.

I must also say, the Pacific Northwest birds we see here in our backyard have been such a source of entertainment for us through several months of chemotherapy, our 4th round in 8 years.  This round has been very tough for us and we both find much comfort in our little feathered friends.  My last CT (for several months) was last Monday and we find out if and how much the tumors have shrunk this Monday.  Please say a little prayer for us.  We are hopeful that this round of chemo has extended my life span with quality of life.  That means we can go birding more!  Thank you everyone….your support has been phenomenal.

And now….I know you have been waiting….  On with the Pacific Northwest birding post and yes….the photos!  And by the way…we have just updated both our Pacific Northwest Collection and our Baja Collection photos.  We hope you will take a look and enjoy them.  Any comments you have can be added at the end of this blog.

Pine Siskin

I would like to begin with the little cuties we are seeing several clouds of right now, the Pine Siskin.

  • Size & Shape

    Pine Siskins are very small songbirds with sharp, pointed bills and short, notched tails. Their uniquely shaped bill is more slender than that of most finches. In flight, look for their forked tails and pointed wingtips.

  • Color Pattern

    Pine siskins are brown and very streaky birds with subtle yellow edgings on wings and tails. Flashes of yellow can erupt as they take flight, flutter at branch tips, or display during mating.

  • Behavior

    Pine Siskins often visit feeders in winter (particularly for thistle or nyjer seed) or cling to branch tips of pines and other conifers, sometimes hanging upside down to pick at seeds below them. They are gregarious, foraging in tight flocks and twittering incessantly to each other, even during their undulating flight.

  • Habitat

    Although Pine Siskins prefer coniferous or mixed coniferous and deciduous forests with open canopies, they are opportunistic and adaptable in their search for seeds. They’ll forage in weedy fields, scrubby thickets, or backyards and gardens. And they’ll flock around feeders, especially thistle feeders, in woodlands and suburbs

Range Map

Pine Siskin Range Map

We are also seeing the tiny Chickadee’s, both the Black-Capped Chickadee and the Chestnut-Backed Chickadee.  We’ve seen them all spring, summer and fall.

Black-capped Chickadee

Chestnut-Backed Chickadee 

Size & Shape

  • This tiny bird has a short neck and large head, giving it a distinctive, rather spherical body shape. It also has a long, narrow tail and a short bill a bit thicker than a warbler’s but thinner than a finch’s.
  • Color Pattern

    The cap and bib are black, the cheeks white, the back soft gray, the wing feathers gray edged with white, and the underparts soft buffy on the sides grading to white beneath. The cap extends down just beyond the black eyes, making the small eyes tricky to see.

  • Behavior

    Black-capped Chickadees seldom remain at feeders except to grab a seed to eat elsewhere. They are acrobatic and associate in flocks—the sudden activity when a flock arrives is distinctive. They often fly across roads and open areas one at a time with a bouncy flight.

  • Habitat

    Chickadees may be found in any habitat that has trees or woody shrubs, from forests and woodlots to residential neighborhoods and parks, and sometimes weedy fields and cattail marshes. They frequently nest in birch or alder trees.

Range Map

Black-capped Chickadee Range Map

And then we have the wee dynamic Red-Breasted Nuthatch.  We have also seen this backyard bird all spring, summer and fall.  They are oh so fun to watch.  They remind me of the chipmunks in how they store their food in the pine and fir trees around.

Red-breasted Nuthatch

  • Size & Shape

    A small, compact bird with a sharp expression accentuated by its long, pointed bill. Red-breasted Nuthatches have very short tails and almost no neck; the body is plump or barrel-chested, and the short wings are very broad.

  • Color Pattern

    Red-breasted Nuthatches are blue-gray birds with strongly patterned heads: a black cap and stripe through the eye broken up by a white stripe over the eye. The underparts are rich rusty-cinnamon, paler in females.

  • Behavior

    Red-breasted Nuthatches move quickly over trunks and branches probing for food in crevices and under flakes of bark. They creep up, down, and sideways without regard for which way is up, and they don’t lean against their tail the way woodpeckers do. Flight is short and bouncy.

  • Habitat

    Red-breasted Nuthatches are mainly birds of coniferous woods and mountains. Look for them among spruce, fir, pine, hemlock, larch, and western red cedar as well as around aspens and poplars. In northeastern North America you can also find them in forests of oak, hickory, maple, birch, and other deciduous trees.

Range Map

Red-breasted Nuthatch Range Map

You won’t see any of the above mixed in with our Baja Birds…well…VERY doubtful!  But…you may see some of the predators below!

It’s very exciting for us to see the raptors here with the Pacific Northwest Song Birds.  However, it always makes me sad when one of the little guys gets eaten by one of the bigger guys but…well…you know….  It’s gotta happen!

We’ll begin the raptor list with the smallest hawk we are seeing now, which is the Sharp-Shinned Hawk.

Sharp-shinned Hawk

A tiny hawk that appears in a blur of motion—and often disappears in a flurry of feathers. That’s the Sharp-shinned Hawk, the smallest hawk in North America and a daring, acrobatic flier. These raptors have distinctive proportions: long legs, short wings, and very long tails, which they use for navigating their deep-woods homes at top speed in pursuit of songbirds and mice. They’re easiest to spot in fall on their southward migration, or occasionally at winter feeders.

 

Next size-wise in what we are seeing now is the Cooper’s Hawk.

Cooper’s Hawk

 

Among the bird world’s most skillful fliers, Cooper’s Hawks are common woodland hawks that tear through cluttered tree canopies in high speed pursuit of other birds. You’re most likely to see one prowling above a forest edge or field using just a few stiff wingbeats followed by a glide. With their smaller lookalike, the Sharp-shinned Hawk, Cooper’s Hawks make for famously tricky identifications. Both species are sometimes unwanted guests at bird feeders, looking for an easy meal (but not one of sunflower seeds).

 

And then we have the Red-Shouldered Hawk.

Red-Shouldered Hawk

 

Whether wheeling over a swamp forest or whistling plaintively from a riverine park, a Red-shouldered Hawk is typically a sign of tall woods and water. It’s one of our most distinctively marked common hawks, with barred reddish-peachy underparts and a strongly banded tail. In flight, translucent crescents near the wingtips help to identify the species at a distance. These forest hawks hunt prey ranging from mice to frogs and snakes.

 

 

We would be interested to know if you see any of these raptors in Baja.  Until our next posts which will most likely be on Baja Birding…..Happy Birding!

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