Tuesday, January 31, 2012

Glad I'm not a songbird

Photo of peregrine falcon by Joe Meche
One of these days I might be informed enough to be able join the birders around the area in the December bird count, since I study all the pictures I receive from the Whatcom birders group. But as of now, I am still at  loss when I see one, unsure of the species. Joe Meche sent the above picture around with the following information (22 Dec 11):
Seems like today was a raptor-rich day, so I thought I'd offer one more for a nightcap. The Semiahmoo water tower peregrine was taking in the morning sun and keeping an eye on the Dunlin flocks on the flats at Blaine. 
Yesterday while I was struggling to learn more about Pixelmator, I saw a very large bird come onto the front porch. When I looked up, it was gone, and so were all the songbirds. They stayed away for a long time, making me wonder if it was my own resident Cooper's Hawk. If it was, he probably got one because he didn't come back. I've seen him on the porch more than once, and those raptor eyes and beak just give me the shivers. As I said in the title, I'm sure glad I'm not a songbird!

Since I have five feeders on my porch, the birds know this is a place where they can get a handout. And this also attracts the raptors, who see the fat little birds and figure if they can be fast enough, their own stomach will be full, too. It's just the way of things. At first I had a hard time thinking of the songbirds being seen as prey, but I've gotten over it, for the most part. It also bothers me when it's terribly cold and windy, as I picture the little creatures huddled in the trees and bushes waiting for the weather to change. When it's like that, I put extra seed out, and they are always visiting, sometimes in amazing profusion.
On last Thursday's hike, we spied a hairy woodpecker (at least that's what I think it is; it looks like a downy but it's much bigger) rat-a-tat-tatting away on this tree. You might need to enlarge the picture to see it better, but the little spot of red on its head was what I was trying to capture with the camera. It's not the best, but I would need a very different camera to get a picture as good as Joe's. And then I wouldn't want to take a big expensive camera on our hikes in all kinds of weather, so I have reconciled myself to this compromise. Plus I still get all the Whatcom birders' pictures to enjoy, and there are a lot of really good ones.

Tomorrow Judy and I are going to see Albert Nobbs. If you don't know anything about this movie, Glenn Close plays the part of a woman who disguises herself as a man in 19th-century Ireland. She's been nominated for an Academy Award for her performance, and if she wins instead of Meryl Streep (as Margaret Thatcher), I want to know why. I also noticed that Jean Dujardin won the Screen Actors Guild award for Best Actor, along with already having won the same thing at the Golden Globes (of course the enlightened Globes have two of these, one for drama and the other for comedy or musical). I will be watching the Academy Awards and rooting for Dujardin over Clooney. Not that I thought Clooney wasn't wonderful in "The Descendants," but I'm a romantic. For Dujardin to win Best Actor in a part where he doesn't say a word (well, he does say two) is just plain old romantic!


  1. Watching birds and their behavior can be addictive. In Texas our back yard was dedicated to birds, with feeders and water dripping bird baths. We had a huge window in the den. It was addictive to look out that window and watch their behavior. Truly amazing.

  2. I always feel a tug at my heart-strings for the prey even though I know it's all necessary for survival. I agree....glad I'm not a songbird. I do love to watch and hear the local birds.

    I hadn't heard of the movie, Albert Nobbs...sounds interesting. I'm afraid I've never been a Clooney fan so I'd be voting for the other guy too.

    Enjoy the movie ~ :)

  3. For the last two summers the naturalist group that I belong to has put a nest on a 100 meter tower and then added web cams so that people can watch he peregrine falcons nest. Cool.
    If you ever see the falcons catch prey, it's a thing of beauty

  4. I love the angle on that picture. I, too, have difficulty with the whole food chain in action. I don't have the profusion of birds you do so I don't have the visual reminder. Of course, neither do I have the hordes of beautiful birds...

  5. nice...def look forward to your take on this movie...and a hairy woodpecker...hmm...never heard of such...

  6. I am very much a novice when it comes to identifying my winged visitors, but I still love to watch them! I've tried unsuccessfully to get a picture of a large bird that I've seen twice. It doesn't feed from the songbird feeders, but hangs on the suet and bends the container sideways with his/her weight. He has a red head, but his body is about 4-6 times larger than the rest of the birds I've seen. He isn't on my chart of Northwest Birds!

    One of these days, I'll snap a shot and post him to see what someone knows!

    We're enjoying perfect winter hiking weather lately. I hope you are, too!

  7. I'll be interested in your review of Albert Nobbs. It sounds like a great vehicle for acting, if not a very uplifting story.

  8. I can't wait to hear your review of the movie.

    I think I saw a robin here yesterday. I couldn't be sure. If I did, I think that is the earliest I've ever seen a robin in these parts.

  9. As you know, watching birds is an obsession of mine. Luckily, the hawks and eagles are rarely seen in town so our birds can gorge to their hearts content. And they do - we now have to buy our seed in 20 kilo bags.
    I loved your woodpecker with his/her red topknot. Thank you.

  10. Welllllll, Ms. Close's makeup sure does resemble a man. I'm sad to say I haven't seen many movies this year. There was a time we'd go every Friday and the Oscars were a given...so I could see if 'they' agreed with me on best picture. Now, I still watch the Oscars, but for a different reason. I love the fashion show. LOL I try to pick the best dressed. Sad, huh?

    But even if I haven't seen any movies that are nominated, I think in the back of my mind Extremely Loud and Incredibly Close may take the top movie.

    Okay....on to birds. I LOVE birdwatching. Just yesterday coming home from the beach along the JFK Causeway, ---perched up on one of the street lights was a HUGE Osprey. They're so beautiful. I had to stop [dangerous] on the highway and zoom in on it. He was watching me as I photographed him.

    Trust me, if you do begin a birdwatching group, you'll be hooked!

  11. We also have Cooper's Hawks in my area. I like to watch them perch and look very arrogant. The beaks look very efficient. I've been watching a huge woodpecker working on a tree outside my front window. They used to attack the wood trim on our house looking for larva left by carpenter bees. We covered the trim with aluminum so they went back to the trees.

  12. Birds are soooo neat! My mom just bought a bunch of fancy fake birds and put them in an indoor tree she has. It looks awesome. Anyway, when she told me about the different birds, I had to tell her about you and how amazing you are. She wants to come read your blog now too :0)

  13. I love birds in general. Always root for the underdog, but I know the big critters have to eat, too. If I ever had a house again I'd have bird feeders! :)

    Love the red poofy head on that woodpecker. I don't know enough about the different bird species to identify much. Just love watching them. ;)

    I try to catch the Academy Awards just so I know which movies to watch when they come out on DVD--LOL! I had heard of Alfred Nobbs and it looks fascinating to me. I'll be waiting for your review!

    I like George but I don't think I've seen any of the movies for best actor so I have no opinion. I know I've only seen two of the ones up for best picture. You're lucky you have a friend who loves to go to the movies, too. That is so cool!! I love to hear your opinions on them.

    Have a great day, my friend!! :):)

  14. I would love to see more raptors in the wild, but I'm kinda glad they don't visit our back yard or prey on "our" songbirds. The neighborhood cats, on the other hand....

  15. Dear DJan,
    Thanks for telling us about the Glenn Close movie. I seldom go to theaters to see movies, but right now there seem to be so many good ones that I'm tempted to break down, spend the money, and enjoy.

    Have you ever read the trilogy about a peregrine falcon and the mountain? All three books now are in one volume. It's a beautiful story of a young boy finding his place in the world and the falcon who is his constant companion. The three-part book is entitled "My Side of the Mountain Trilogy."


  16. It is hard to think of the little birds as prey but such is life with Mother Nature. If I don't see our resident Red-tailed hawks for awhile I worry about them too.

    I haven't heard of that movie, I will be interested to read your review DJan.

  17. It always makes me sad when I think of one bird eating another.

  18. Yep, I'll have big hawks and small eagles who want to belly up to my songbird buffet. Sometimes it's difficult to break the circle of life! Heeehehehe!

    Please let us know what ya think of the movie. I haven't talked to anyone whose seen it yet.

    God bless ya and have a joyous day sweetie!!! :o)

  19. You're so lucky to be living in a place with such a profusion of fascinating bird life! I love it when you tell us about them! :o)

    I haven't seen Albert Nobbs yet, a bit on the fence about it... But like you I might see it to know why if Glenn Close beats Meryl Streep in the Oscars! :p

    I just got back from seeing Moneyball (funny, I went on the same day I wrote in a post that I'd probably not see it at all!), and although my vote is still on Dujardin, I'd go for Pitt over Clooney among the other candidates.


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