Bird Roll Call: February 28, 2018

  • American goldfinch1
  • American robin1,2
  • Blue jay1
  • Brown creeper1
  • Canada goose2
  • Common grackle1,2
  • Dark-eyed junco1,2
  • Downy woodpecker1
  • Eastern bluebird2
  • European starling1,2
  • House finch1
  • House sparrow1
  • Killdeer2
  • Mallard2
  • Mourning dove1,2
  • Northern cardinal1
  • Northern flicker1
  • Pine siskin1
  • Red-bellied woodpecker1
  • Red-winged blackbird**1
  • White-throated sparrow1
  • Yellow-bellied sapsucker***1

Locations — in my backyard and at Meadowbrook Park. A double asterisk indicates first sighting in my yard. A triple asterisk indicates first sighting of the season.


1. Seen at home
2. Seen at Meadowbrook Park

Bird Roll Call: February 27, 2018

  • American goldfinch1
  • American robin1,2
  • Black-capped chickadee1
  • Blue jay1,2
  • Common grackle1
  • Dark-eyed junco1,2
  • Downy woodpecker1
  • Eastern bluebird2
  • European starling1,2
  • Killdeer***2
  • House finch1
  • House sparrow1
  • Mallard2
  • Mourning dove1,2
  • Northern cardinal1
  • Northern flicker1
  • Pine siskin1
  • Red-bellied woodpecker1,2
  • Red-tailed hawk1,2
  • White-throated sparrow1

Locations — in my backyard and at Meadowbrook Park. A triple asterisk indicates first sighting of the season.


1. Seen at home
2. Seen at Meadowbrook Park

Twitter: Geometry

I found a heronry today near my home.

Birds froze to things last night: utility lines, branches, feeders. They left feathers behind when they flew away.

Geometry: two northern flickers — one on the utility pole, one in the sweetgum — and me, below, standing between them.

A European starling found a white feather and dropped it in the birdbath.

A blue jay used a peanut shell to bully other blue jays. He wielded it like a little sword.

Overhead, a single herring gull flew behind several ring-billed gulls.

I am as fussy as an American goldfinch.

I don’t know where the birds go at night, but I want to go there, too.

Songbirds slid off iced branches this morning.

The correct image is always a seed — it contains its own explanation, and defines itself. — Charles Wright

The ground has thawed. Squirrels play in the wet grass.

Morning: A squirrel drags a dried hydrangea blossom to his nest in the silver maple.

The grackles arrived this morning. In the near distance, hundreds of Canada geese are moving north. Only a handful of juncos remain. One sings from the back fence.

I hear tapping on a nearby tree. Two red-bellied woodpeckers jag through the air. They needle the sweetgums then disappear.

I am mildly interested in leaving the house but only to go watch birds somewhere else.

Sunny and warm. Clear skies. Two geese fly past the tornado siren tower.

I live knowing there is a Turin horse in my future, a suffering so great it will finally break me.

Bird Roll Call: February 21, 2018

  • American goldfinch
  • American robin
  • Blue jay
  • Dark-eyed junco
  • Downy woodpecker
  • European starling
  • Gull sp. (overhead)
  • House finch
  • House sparrow
  • Mourning dove
  • Northern cardinal
  • Northern flicker
  • Red-bellied woodpecker
  • White-throated sparrow

Everything was covered in ice this morning. Feathers were stuck to the utility lines, trees, and feeders. The birds froze to these surfaces yesterday evening. The feathers were torn from their bodies when they flew away.

The pair of bluebirds who’ve been visiting the yard came to the birdbath twice in the morning. They stop by on days like this when water is scarce elsewhere. Several gulls flew over. One was substantially larger than the others. I believe it was a herring gull traveling with a number of ring-billed gulls.

Location — in my backyard.

Bird Roll Call: February 20, 2018

  • American goldfinch1
  • American robin1
  • Black-capped chickadee1
  • Blue jay1
  • Canada goose (overhead)1,2
  • Cooper’s / sharp-shinned hawk2
  • Dark-eyed junco1,2
  • Downy woodpecker1
  • European starling1
  • Great blue heron2
  • Gull sp. (overhead)1
  • House finch1
  • House sparrow1
  • Mallard2
  • Mourning dove1
  • Northern cardinal1
  • Northern flicker (heard)1
  • Red-bellied woodpecker (male and female)1
  • White-throated sparrow1

It was cold and sleeting. Winter weather, through and through. A European starling bathed in the birdbath. A squirrel slept on a branch with his tail wrapped over his head like a turned-up collar. The dark-eyed juncos’ tails were frozen in all manner of configurations: open fans, half-open fans, broken fans. The Carolina wren flew over to visit with me as I was filling the wreath feeder with peanuts.

Later, my partner and I went for a walk at a local creek and came upon a heronry. It was an exciting discovery.

Locations — in my backyard and at a local creek.


1. Seen at home
2. Seen at a local creek

Twitter: Bird Blind

Out beyond ideas of wrongdoing / and rightdoing there is a field. / I’ll meet you there. — Rumi

I imagine the field of no-ideas rustling with sparrows.

I’ve decided to come home to myself. I’ve been away too long.

I mean, my body has already come home to itself. My mind just got wind of it and is trying to take all the credit.

I feel a twinge of sadness when the American goldfinches fly off to my neighbor’s pin oak.

I feel bad about playing with boas when I was younger. I take feathers seriously now.

I waited all morning for the eastern bluebirds.

I watched birds for years without seeing them.

My house has become a bird blind.

I woke to bluebirds.

A yellow ball flies through the air: children playing.

The more I watch trees, the more I dream of trees.

Backlit birds and a bright gash in the dark sky.

A chipmunk scuttles home before the storm.

A blue jay covers a peanut with leaves before going back for another.

I don’t want to look at birds because I want to anticipate looking at birds.

The rain falls whether you think about it or not.

A wet house finch sings from my windowsill.

Bird Roll Call: February 19, 2018

  • American goldfinch
  • American robin
  • Black-capped chickadee
  • Blue jay
  • Canada goose (overhead)
  • Carolina wren (heard)
  • Dark-eyed junco
  • Downy woodpecker
  • European starling
  • House finch
  • House sparrow
  • Mourning dove
  • Northern cardinal
  • Northern flicker
  • Pine siskin
  • Red-bellied woodpecker
  • White-breasted nuthatch
  • White-throated sparrow

The day was dark and stormy. I love the way birds behave in this weather, not panicked but animated, driven. A bright gash opened behind the trees, backlighting the birds. It seemed to prompt my favorite chipmunk to return home before the weather got any worse. A blue jay covered a peanut with leaves. A house finch slipped on the wet roof. Another blue jay unleashed the dreaded hawk alarm. American goldfinches flittered like moths.

Location — in my backyard.

Bird Roll Call: February 18, 2018

  • American crow2
  • American goldfinch1
  • American robin1,2
  • American tree sparrow2
  • Belted kingfisher2
  • Blue jay1
  • Canada goose (overhead)1,2
  • Carolina wren (heard)1
  • Dark-eyed junco1,2
  • Downy woodpecker1,2
  • Eastern bluebird2
  • European starling1,2
  • Great horned owl (heard)1
  • Gull sp. (overhead)2
  • House finch1
  • House sparrow1
  • Mallard2
  • Mourning dove1,2
  • Northern cardinal1,2
  • Northern flicker (male and female)1
  • Pine siskin1
  • Red-bellied woodpecker1,2
  • Red-tailed hawk2,3
  • Snow goose (overhead)2
  • Tufted titmouse2
  • White-throated sparrow1
  • Yellow-bellied sapsucker2
  • Yellow-rumped warbler2

Robins played in the neighbor’s yard. The female northern flicker landed on another neighbor’s chimney cover. Two red-bellied woodpeckers scurried up yet another neighbor’s tree. In my yard, two mourning doves pumped their heads at one another in the silver maple. Later, my partner and I took our dog to Shawnee Mission Park. It was cold and windy. We saw eastern bluebirds and a male belted kingfisher.

Locations — in my backyard and at Shawnee Mission Park.


1. Seen at home
2. Seen at Shawnee Mission Park

Bird Roll Call: February 17, 2018

  • American crow3
  • American goldfinch1
  • American robin1
  • Blue jay1
  • Canada goose (overhead)3
  • Dark-eyed junco1
  • Downy woodpecker1
  • European starling1
  • Great horned owl (heard)1
  • House finch1
  • House sparrow1
  • Mourning dove1
  • Northern cardinal1
  • Northern flicker (male and female)1
  • Pine siskin1
  • Red-bellied woodpecker (male and female)1
  • Red-tailed hawk2,3
  • White-throated sparrow1

Sleet covered the ground. It was dark and thirty-five degrees. In the distance, the birds were shadows moving among branches. A dozen European starlings flew to the east, blotting the sky. Blue jays followed. American goldfinches scattered like flecks of gold tossed from someone’s hand. A drenched squirrel sifted through wet sunflower seeds littering the ground. A house finch, a dark-eyed junco, and a white-throated sparrow sat in the lilac at the back of the property as if its bare branches could provide protection from the rain.

Birds funneled back slowly, starting with the juncos. Six white-throated sparrows scratched at the cold soil. A northern flicker and downy woodpecker landed in one of the sweetgum trees at the same time. A house finch sang from his perch on the sunflower seed feeder. The sky grew lighter.

Locations — in my backyard, at Meadowbrook Park, and while driving.


1. Seen at home
2. Seen at Meadowbrook Park
3. Seen while driving

Bird Roll Call: February 16, 2018

  • American goldfinch
  • American robin
  • Black-capped chickadee
  • Blue jay
  • Dark-eyed junco
  • Downy woodpecker
  • European starling
  • House finch
  • House sparrow
  • Mourning dove
  • Northern cardinal
  • Northern flicker
  • Pine siskin
  • Red-bellied woodpecker
  • White-throated sparrow

European starlings studded the lawn. Two northern flickers stood on a neighbor’s roof. The male and female red-bellied woodpeckers visited the yard separately. I saw my favorite chipmunk for the first time since it went into hibernation last fall.

Location — in my backyard.