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Winter Beauties: From Songbirds to Raptors

Published January 24, 2015
Tags: General Observations, Eastern Bluebird, Northern Cardinal, Red-headed Woodpecker, Cooper's Hawk, Red-shouldered Hawk, Pileated Woodpecker

I've done a bit of driving around recently on my way to work meetings and bird pursuits. Along the way, I'm always scanning for interesting bird sightings, made a little easier by the sparse foliage, yet a little harder by the fewer birds.  It's always a challenge, no matter the season - but still, nature holds some amazing and beautiful treasures for us regardless the time of year - as long as we tune-in and look for her precious wonders.

A little group of Northern Cardinals feeding on sumac made me stop and take note a few days ago. They're striking birds and I often overlook them because of how common they are. I think they'd knock me over with their beauty had I never seen one before!

Cooper's Hawks seem to abound. There's one terrorizing the songbirds at my feeders and I don't think I can go out on any birding adventure without running into my "token" Coop for the day.  It's either because of the bare trees, random luck, or food sources are more limited and they've become more brazen - but whatever the case, I'll take it. They're beautiful hawks and I love running into them, but I think my feeder birds may feel otherwise!

I was very happy to see a Red-shouldered Hawk right near home the other day too. This is a bird that is uncommon for me to run into and I love any sighting of them.  Their orange breast and black-and-white speckled/checkered wing tips and narrowly banded tails make for a striking raptor.

Sharing the same range as Barred Owls, these hunters are active in the day while the Barred Owl is more active at night. An interesting fact that I'll have to share with my grandsons is that a Red-shouldered nestling can shoot its feces up and over their nest by five days old.  I know the boys will think that's quite awesome!

And the ubiquitous Red-tailed Hawk is seen EVERYWHERE. If you pay attention, you'll see many of these "roadside hawks" perched all along the highways.  I used to count them, but I don't even bother any more!

A drive through Emery Park brought me up close to a pair of Pileated Woodpeckers working a tree.  They called their loud laughter-like calls over and over to one another as I watched them drumming into the nearby trees.  I was closer to the male and I was able to grab a few shots from my moon roof before he took off to move closer to his mate.

Yesterday, I came upon a small flock of Eastern Bluebirds. I just love these little beauties and I had to stop and watch them. I grabbed some photos as they quickly darted from tree limb to the ground, watching and listening for insect life beneath the snow.  Males and females - adults and juveniles - were all quite successful with their hunts. I'm so glad that their decline has been reversed and, due to the efforts of many, our state bird is now happily on the upswing.

A little flock of sparrows containing a couple of White-throateds, many American Tree, and some White-crowneds was very nice to come upon too.  I haven't seen many White-crowned Sparrows at this time of year very often, so I paused to take a few photos and enjoy them.

So - keep your eyes peeled; there are marvelous sights the Creator has given us to enjoy!
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Male Northern Cardinal feeding on sumac
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Northern Cardinal
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Male House Finch
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Red-tailed Hawk
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Red-tailed Hawk
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Juvenile Red-tailed Hawk
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Red-shouldered Hawk
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Red-shouldered Hawk
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You can see how the Red-shouldered Hawk got his name in this photo
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My token Cooper's Hawk for one of the days I was out
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Pileated Woodpecker (male)
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Pileated Woodpecker taking his leave
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White-crowned Sparrows: adult on left, juvenile on right
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Adult White-crowned Sparrow
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Eastern Bluebird (female)
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Eastern Bluebird (male)
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Eastern Bluebird (male)
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Eastern Bluebird (male)
Reply from: tim on 1/24/2015 6:07 PM
 beautiful images as usual Sue!