Monday, March 18, 2013

Feeder Fun in Prospect Park

A song sparrow escapes the hanging feeder drama by foraging for all the fallen seeds below.
     Maybe this bird feeder station has been in Prospect Park forever, but I just noticed two weeks ago a hanging bird feeder atop the hill I used to cross daily on my commute to work for about 2.5 years. I never saw it then, but now there is this sweet little feeder station set up on the hill just off the main paved path. It's nice to attract in birds via feeders to allow park goers to see a nice variety of birds many don't realize exist beyond "pigeons, sparrows, geese, and sea gulls." We used to stock feeders when I worked at Audubon, but always had issues with rats joining the birds, but so far it was squirrel and rat free. There were some photographers there with big gigundo lenses, even though all the birds were really close, my "tiny" in comparison 300 lens got some pretty nice shots just fine. I do get lens envy, but it did seem kind of silly to have such a giant lens for such close range sightings.
     I had fun trying to capture birds in flight. The feeders are fun for bird drama, there is squabbling over the best perch, smaller birds get displaced, or small birds get a Napoleon complex and displace larger birds. There is a lot of action without birds just flying away completely from the area. Sometimes its hard to resist not playing out some sort of bird soap opera in your head as you sit and watch the action.
     Most of the birds sighted were fairly common, American goldfinch (still in their winter get-up), N. cardinals, house finches, tufted titmice, black-capped chickadees, red-winged black birds, white throated sparrows, song sparrows, house sparrows, white-breasted nuthatch, dark eyed juncos, hairy woodpeckers, mourning doves, and pine siskins (which are a new one for me, yay!).
     After the photographers left, a dad and his two kids came over to look, and it was just so cool to see kids naturally hush their voices and go into stealth mode. It was so nice to hear their observations, and part of me just wanted to point out and help them ID the birds, but a natural process of learning and observing was happening so I decided to let them be. I just love when kids get excited for wild animals, even ones that are pretty common, it's super cool to see, it gives me hope for the future.

An American goldfinch still in its winter plumage enjoys the thistle seed feeder. The male goldfinches are very pretty during breeding season and for me are one of the easiest bird to ID by their flight pattern, they literally fly in a way that looks like the way you draw water as a 5 year old. Peak then dip, then peak, then dip....
A suet feeder packed with some yummy suet cakes are a tempting draw for woodpeckers, like this hairy woodpecker. I  observed all these birds well after 3pm, so these must have been recently stocked.
A dark eyed junco avoids the commotion above and forages on the ground. These guys will soon be gone to go back North as spring moves in.
A doe-eyed tufted titmouse. I find these guys rather cute, and have fun trying to call them in with whistles.
Male house finches watch as the chickadees move in... Now I'm just having fun with flight... 
A house finch suspended in time
A female house finch flies in on the upper left and a male at the lower right- I love his wings!
A tufted titmouse makes off with his prize. I love how he has yet to pull in his landing gear.
A red wing black bird stares on as a mourning dove is about to displace a male house finch. Or is that male house finch about to round-house kick that dove? You be the judge. 
These pine siskins are a first for me and they make a good first impression, this shot makes them look like they are totally about to kick butt and take names.
At first I just thought they were female or winter goldfinches, then a goldfinch showed up and I realized I needed to reevaluate. 
The siskins were loving the thistle seed, they were on the other feeders too, but spent most of their time here.
     I was trying originally to figure out what in the world this "sparrow" was. It looked so close but not close enough to a few sparrows - after putting word out via Facebook, a friend took a look and passed it onto "her guys," Jim and Don. Well, Jim and Don were able to ID it as a female redwing blackbird, and I confused it for something else, oops! Super huge thanks to my friend Jill for passing my photo on Jim and Don and a super huge thanks to those two gentlemen, Jim and Don, for helping me figure out what in the world this lil' bird was.
A redwing blackbird female and a chickadee. Corrected from earlier: Not a "Redwing" a little bird miscommunication happened there!