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May 16, 2013 - 7:58am

An abundance of bird life in neighboring woodlots

It's that time of year when the small woodlots on either side of our property attract a variety of bird life, none more colorful than the Baltimore oriole. Though they didn't arrive as early or in such great numbers as last spring, they did arrive to feast on the small insects among the apple blossoms.

Having grown accustomed to their visits in recent years, by their song alone we know when the orioles have arrived. Their sound is distinct and pleasing to the ear.  

Partially obscured by apple blossoms, I'm guessing this to be a member of the warbler or finch family.

Here seen upside down in its quest for bugs, it was difficult to get a clear pic as it darted quickly about in search of food. 

A pair of fledgling robins seem uninterested in the juicy worm provided by their mother. Not a year passes when a robin has not failed to nest in our garage, always using one of two nests that have been in place for years and each year the same nest produces a double clutch.

A male and female goldfinch search the ground for a meal.

Morning sun highlights the crest of a pileated woodpecker.

Working its way around the tree, it has moved into the shade and this angle reveals the size of its bill.

A lone crow perched in the cottonwood.

The cottonwood towers above the other trees in the woodlot and it's in cottonwood where the crows often gather. This foursome no doubt has mischief on their minds, waiting to harass an unsuspecting hawk or waiting for the neighbors to take out the trash.

This photo was taken in late winter. At first I thought this crow was hard up for a meal as I've never seen a crow attracted to sumac drupes before. As I watched, he didn't eat the drupes, he tore them apart. Did it think something was inside? Or was it hell-bent on destroying the drupes because song birds eat them? And crows are notorious for raiding the nests of other birds and destroying eggs or killing the young.

Elizabeth Downie
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Joined: Nov 10 2009 - 5:57pm

Stunning photos, as always!! Thanks Jim!

Mardell Lamb
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Between you & Sarah, we've had wonderful pictures to drool over this morning! Thanks, Jim. Your photos and commentary are always welcome. We had a Baltimore Oriole here for the 1st time last year. He was attempting to get nectar out of the hummingbird feeder. They are so pretty & vocal. We bought a feeder for him and he never used it. Perhaps I need to do the oranges/grape jelly route.

JIM NIGRO
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Elizabeth and Mardell - thank you both. Claudia and I always appreciate your comments.

Sarah Della Penna
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Gorgeous pictures Jim! I have a quick question for you when you get a moment... I have spotted this black bird (small size) and the front of its head is black and the back of its head is yellow (almost looks like he is wearing a yellow helmet) From what I could see the rest of the body is black. Any ideas what bird this might be?

JIM NIGRO
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Thanks, Sarah....in answer to your question, the first thing that comes to mind is a Hooded Oriole, as its face, throat and upper breast are black and the top of its head is yellow or yellow-orange but there the similarities end. The tail also is black as are the wings which have two white bars. The lower breast and underside is the same color as its head.

Another possibility is the Yellow-headed Blackbird....its face, tail and lower underside is black while its head, throat and upper chest is yellow. Its a bit larger than the Hooded Oriole measuring 8-10 inches from tail to head.

In looking through the Audubon Field Guide I've come across several birds with black face markings and a yellow head but none with an all black body. Near as I can tell, the Hooded Oriole and the Yellow-headed Blackbird come closest to the description you provided.

P.S. Hope you continue to post your pics.....the killdeer was really special!!

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