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Cool Bird Behavior/Interaction/Experiences


Avery
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Today, I was treated to a barrage of weird sounding birds, and some cool behaviors. I had crows saying "hello" and doing their best cuckoo impression, as well as a chickadee aspiring to be a blue jay. There was also a tarling with a very interesting repertoire! I was able to watch a territorial dispute between Tufted Titmice (shhhhh, its ok😉), and I was fascinated by a few American Tree Sparrows. I was standing out in the middle of a field, trying to pick out a Hoary Redpoll from a flock of Commons, when I heard a few ATSP calls. I turned, and watched them feed for a while off the ground. Then, they both hopped up onto the tops of some of the dead grasses, and started bouncing up and down, shaking seeds out. They then hopped down and continued eating. So cool! https://ebird.org/checklist/S81927940

Feel free to post your own sightings here, as well as any media you see fit.

Also, can we all agree chickadees munching snow with their mouth open is one of the most adorable things you can see? 

Edited by Avery
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  • 2 weeks later...

On my way down to Addison County today I stopped to help a stunned Barred Owl sitting in the middle of a main road. After swerving to avoid it, realizing it wasn't a big clump of snow, I pulled over and tried to get it to fly by speaking and waving my arms. I realized it was stunned an unresponsive, looking at me through squinting eyes. I tried unsuccesfully to find a good stick to try and scoop it up with, but only succeeded in getting a length of dried weed, which only made it looks at me when I gently poked at its feet. I had to stop and redirect traffic for a second, using my phone's flashlight get people's attention and to illuminate the bird in the road. I then ran back to the car, and backed up next to the owl. I put on gloves, getting ready to gently pick it up and put it on top of my car, or a nearby fencepost and call a rehab center if I needed. Luckily, as I moved to pick it up, I saw it's eyed were wide open, a good sign, and back off. I started speaking to it again, and it gathered itself and flew into a nearby tree, flying seemingly semi-blindly. I'm guessing it's eyes were adjusting back to the darkness. Nothing seemed broken on the bird, and when I drove past a few hours later, it was nowhere to be seen.

I then found another Barred Owl later that morning, healthy and hunting. https://ebird.org/checklist/S82486360 Other birds of note were Short-eared Owl, Dark morph Rough-legged Hawks https://ebird.org/checklist/S82511131, and Lapland Longspurs. Not a bad morning of birding! 

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1 hour ago, Jefferson Shank said:

A couple years ago, a Golden-crowned Kinglet flew into a window and was pretty stunned enough that I was able to hold it. I set it on this branch and took some pictures of it with an iPhone. https://macaulaylibrary.org/asset/313084131

2400#_ga=2.205640342.405552312.161239014

Great shot! I saw a ruby crowned kinglet today, it was moving so fast, the pic was awful, after reviewing the photos, it took me ten minutes to find the greenish bird in the greenish leaves!

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Last year I had house wrens nest in my backyard. I’ve always had them make their dummy nests, but never actually a real one. At the same time house finches nested in my front yard.

Was sitting by the window with the door open when I heard a smashing sound. Then another, and then another. Looked out and another house wren was doing this:

He just kept flying in and out smashing the eggs. Sometimes he’d fly away with them and other times he’d just chuck them through the hole and they’d smash on the deck. I think there was 7 eggs in total. Pretty gross afterwards as my deck was covered in smashed egg shells and blood. I read about how house wrens smash the other eggs of birds nearby before, but never thought I’d actually see it! Really wish I had my current camera back then as I probably would have been able to get some pretty cool shots of it flying with the eggs.

I was a little bummed, but thought; “well at least there’s still the house finches!”

Then two days later a magpie came and ate them all 😞

Hopefully my yard has better success this year! 

Edited by Aaron
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Just had a magpie harass my dog (miniature dachshund) for a couple minutes 😂. The magpie would run towards her and then slowly creep up behind her before being chased away. Then it would perch above her and squawk. Did this about 10 times. I think it was trying to steal some fur or something! 

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The forums are slow today, and I just remembered a cool bird thing that I saw last summer. 
 

Fall migration was starting, and the robins were growing in numbers in my neighborhood, as well as a variety of new warblers and the like. I was standing in my backyard, and I hear the Robin alarm whistle. Now, 50% of the time I hear this I can’t find the raptor or thing that set the robins off, but instinctually I started rapidly scanning the sky. I then saw a flock of about 30 robins flying low over the treetops towards me. I watched them fly overhead, then I watched behind them to see the raptor that I thought was chasing them. A few seconds pass, and I start to turn away, when boom, there’s a Coopers Hawk, making a beeline for the robins.
 

I love getting heads up from the birds when there’s a predator around! 

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Let my dog Hercules out of the Jeep at a roadside to let him do his thing.  Walked up the road quite a ways and spooked up the Northern Shrike that has been in this area for a while.  What was the coolest part is it seemed to take some interest in us, and flew closer checking us out.  By far my best looks ever.  

2400?__hstc=264660688.557b4ee81f674e1df8

 

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One of the coolest instances of mimicry that I’ve heard is that of a Steller’s jay that mimicked the call of a red-tailed hawk. What was particularly intriguing about this was one of the circumstances in which I heard this jay (which I jokingly referred to as a red-tailed Steller’s jay) voice this mimicked red-tail call. At the time, there was a small building where I generally started my work day early in the morning on which moths and some other insects perched on the wall around some porch lights and a few other lights situated on the building. Ever the opportunists, the jays and individuals of a few other avian species typically began their daily foraging off by going to this building and picking these insects off the wall (in this case, the early bird caught the moth instead of the proverbial worm). On a number of occasions, it was during these early morning feeding periods on the perched moths that this jay voiced its red-tailed calls—and it gave the impression that it deliberately voiced these calls in order to scare the other birds away and thus reduce the competition vying for these moths. Of course, corvids in general are known for their intelligence so the possibility that this jay did make these calls with this intent does seem to be within the cognitive abilities of jays. Regardless of whether or not this was a deliberate strategy, it did tend to reduce the competition.

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  • 2 weeks later...

Today, as I was cleaning up from lunch, I looked out the kitchen window. The feeders were barren of birds, and the falling snow was melting instantly on the ground. Not many interesting birds have been in the yard since this weekend, though this morning I heard a FoY Flicker calling from the stand of trees at the top of the hill, loud in the absence of the singing juncos of late. All the excitement has been along the lake. Great Egrets, Caspian Terns, Tree Swallows, and a few shorebirds have started appearing. But it’s slow going at home. I looked out at our yard, scanning beneath the line of trees for a flicker probing the ground. Nothing. 

       Then, a flicker of movement caught my attention. From the small patch of forest where there turkeys roost at the top of the hill, a bird had appeared. My mind went immediately to flicker. Size was about right, and I even saw a dot of white as it dodged the trees, heading straight towards me. I turned off the water, and gave my full attention to the bird. It floated out of the trees at breakneck speed, and flapped twice. The upper tail  coverts were white, but this bird was bigger. Crow sized.  Dark crown, slate blue back, and a long banded tail. An accipiter, flying towards me at eye level. 

      The bird then banked lightly, and  glided down the hillside, it’s orange breast about a foot off the soaking grass. As soon as it disappeared around the side of the house, I dashed across the room to the living room window. The bird appeared again, lifting a few more feet off the ground as it flapped a few more times. It’s shoulders appeared hunched forward against the snow, and it’s dark cap bled onto its dark blue back. It flared its tail as it crossed the neighbors yard, showing me the thinnest white edge to its squared tail. It weaved through the trees at the edge of the yard, and pulled up to perch, hidden in the tangle of branches. After retrieving my binoculars, I could not find the bird again. 

10 seconds of wonder and joy from a day of confusing Vermont weather. 

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  • 2 weeks later...
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Posted (edited)

We’ve had a pair of Merlins in my neighborhood frequently calling and flying by. Today I just missed getting a picture of them copulating! The female had been sitting out on a dead tree for a while and calling (here’s the audio) with the male flying by every now and then. I was walking away after taking pictures from the road when the male flew in! I just barely saw it happen, and didn’t get a chance to snag a photo. The male then flew off and perched, while the female chased off some crows that got too close. Hopefully they have a nest nearby! 
 

I believe that makes the fourth species I’ve seen copulating, the others being House Sparrow, Mallard, and Chipping Sparrow

Edited by Avery
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7 hours ago, Avery said:

We’ve had a pair of Merlins in my neighborhood frequently calling and flying by. Today I just missed getting a picture of them copulating! The female had been sitting out on a dead tree for a while and calling (here’s the audio) with the male flying by every now and then. I was walking away after taking pictures from the road when the male flew in! I just barely saw it happen, and didn’t get a chance to snag a photo. The male then flew off and perched, while the female chased off some crows that got too close. Hopefully they have a nest nearby! 
 

I believe that makes the fourth species I’ve seen copulating, the others being House Sparrow, Mallard, and Chipping Sparrow

They probably didn't want you to get a picture of them in the act. You know how such things go viral on social media...........😏

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On 3/24/2021 at 12:12 AM, Earthling said:

One of the coolest instances of mimicry that I’ve heard is that of a Steller’s jay that mimicked the call of a red-tailed hawk. 

I hear them do this quite often and it still fools me once in a while 😣

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Had an awesome Big Day today with 116 species, but I still missed some easy targets. However, the experiences I had were amazing!

I was driving in between stops when I started wondering where I could try to find meadowlarks, when I literally looked to the side and one was flying next to the car. I pulled over, and was treated to 4 singing over each other! I may have teared up a little bit, it was so beautiful ❤️

I heard an interesting song at one of the stops, and after the fifth time I heard it my mouth was hanging open. An Orange-crowned Warbler!!! There had been one seen nearby, but I was still shocked. I had zero luck last year trying to find one during migration, so I wasn’t holding out hope I would find one before I left. Wish I could have seen it, but the Pine Warblers actually let me see them today so that kinda made up for it. Anyway, I am so psyched I heard one!

At one of my favorite parks, I walked out the bike path to the bridge at the mouth of the river to look for the LTDU (which were there!). I then noticed the Barn Swallows kept stopping underneath the bridge, and I saw one sitting on the edge of the I-beam just under the boards. So, naturally, I laid down and army crawled towards them! They didn’t care. I got within 5 feet, taking pictures from between the wooden boards and the bottom of the railing! The lighting wasn’t great, but shutter speed wasn’t too much of an issue since they were just sitting there. Not too often you can get close to and above swallows!

At my second to last stop, there was a big insect hatch, and there was at least 100 swallows zipping right past my head! I could hear them snapping their bills shut! I got every swallow species in VT there except Cliff and PUMA, which I had had earlier. 

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Just now, BirdNrd said:

Got 128 species on the big day yesterday.

Also yesterday, I was playing a song of a house wren and a house wren landed on my head. Couldn't get pic though.

Now THAT photo would get some hilarious captions!

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