My Bird Blog: A blog about my birding discoveries, bird feeders, birds on my life lists, and all things bird related

Chirps and Cheeps Bird Blog

A Birder's Blog About Birding in Western New York

Red Crossbill - Completing the Experience

Published August 14, 2015
Tags: Life List Happenings, Red Crossbill, Yellow-bellied Sapsucker

Yesterday, I finally had the full experience I had been hoping for regarding a Red Crossbill.  Celeste and I were out doing some county birding across central New York and were both able to add at least two counties to our NYS county lists.  We saw respectable numbers of species in each of these counties plus, we came upon a beautiful, adult, singing, male Red Crossbill in the process!

The crossbill announced himself with a "jip, jip, jip!" as he flew over the road we were birding along.  Celeste's skilled ears picked-up his call and it didn't take us too long to find him a little further back up the road perched atop of a tall conifer. He began singing a more complex song once on his perch, usually ending his sing-songy phrases with the "jip, jip, jip" crossbills are known for.

There are two crossbills that we might see in North America: the Red Crossbill and the White-winged Crossbill.  Members of the finch family, both species are nomadic or irruptive, and travel to wherever they might find good pine cone crops.  So, it wasn't unusual to find this bird perched at the top of a conifer.  If you look closely at the photos below, you'll notice that a few of the photos show how crossbills get their name. Note how his bill crosses at each tip, giving him a tool that works very well for extracting seeds from pine cones.

American Red Crossbills are further categorized by "types", of which there are currently ten.  Types are determined by subtle differences in size, bill size, and calls.  We recorded the call of our crossbill, but he didn't give us a flight call nor an excited call while we were observing and recording him, a requirement for determining his type.  Because of his location, we're assuming he's a Type 1, but that's only a guess.

Prior to yesterday, I had only heard a quick call of a Red Crossbill along with a very brief flutter of its wings as it flew away.  Today expanded my experience with this species, giving some really nice observation time for both sight, behavior, and its song.  Celeste and I were quite thrilled to have come upon him.
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Male Red Crossbill
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Red Crossbill
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Red Crossbill
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Red Crossbill
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Red Crossbill - you can really see the crossed bill in this photo.
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Red Crossbill
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Red Crossbill
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Young Yellow-bellied Sapsucker seen during the day


Raptors Seen Here and There

Published August 12, 2015
Tags: General Observations, Red-tailed Hawk, Broad-winged Hawk, Osprey, American Kestrel

I've run into a few raptors over the last week and decided to give their photos their own post.  Pictured below are a couple of Red-tailed Hawks, an Osprey, an American Kestrel and one of three Broad-winged Hawks that were flying over our house today.

A couple of notes on the Red-taileds:  the first photo shows a most likely older Red-tailed.  It was so light, I turned my car around to see him/her better. I thought maybe it was the Krider's subspecies, but on further study, I think it's just a lighter Eastern.  When I showed the photo to Willie D'Anna, he suggested it might be an older bird, as they sometimes will fade when they start getting up in years.

The other Red-tailed is a young bird, probably around a year old. Check out the tail feathers and you'll see some barred feathers of an immature as well as the red feathers of an adult.  The short red feather is just coming in, so we can see s/he's currently molting.
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Older (perhaps) Red-tailed Hawk - the little lights were actually insects flying around that were illuminated by the setting sun
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Red-tailed Hawk - between 1 and 2 years old
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Osprey
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American Kestrel
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Broad-winged Hawk
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Broad-winged Hawk
Reply from: Ann Powell on 8/23/2015 6:26 AM
 I follow your blog and always marvel at your pictures. They are awesome."


A Hooded Warbler Fledgling

Published August 10, 2015
Tags: My Feeders, Hooded Warbler, Baltimore Oriole, Rose-breasted Grosbeak

I heard the familiar "chink" of, what I assumed was the call note of the female Hooded Warbler. I heard it from my office window and it was coming from the woods.  Needing a break from writing code, I grabbed my camera and went out to see if I could find the female warbler.  Up until now, I've only gotten photos of her extraordinarily handsome mate.

I finally located the calling bird and was surprised to see it was a fledgling. I didn't realize they made the same "chink" calls.  It was a nice sight to see and learn that our yearly couple had produced young again.  And now I won't be so quick to assume that the "chink" call is always going to be a female Hooded Warbler!

At the feeders, I've been really enjoying more Baltimore Orioles than ever before as well as a family of five Rose-breasted Grosbeaks. I've been tuning-in to the begging calls of the grosbeaks - they are much different than those of other birds and it took awhile for me to figure out which birds were making that odd whistling noise. I wish this season would last forever!
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Hooded Warbler Fledgling
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Hooded Warbler male (dad)
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Baltimore Oriole male
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Baltimore Oriole male
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Baltimore Oriole female
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Rose-breasted Grosbeak
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Rose-breasted Grosbeak
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Young male Rose-breasted Grosbeak