Bird Roll Call: March 24, 2018

  • American crow1,3
  • American goldfinch1
  • American robin1,3
  • Bald eagle3
  • Blue jay1
  • Brown creeper (two)1
  • Bufflehead (three pairs)2
  • Canada goose3
  • Carolina wren (heard)1
  • Common grackle1,3
  • Dark-eyed junco1
  • Downy woodpecker1
  • European starling1,3
  • House finch1
  • House sparrow1
  • Mallard2,3
  • Mourning dove1,3
  • Northern cardinal1,2
  • Northern flicker (male and female)1
  • Pine siskin1
  • Red-bellied woodpecker1
  • Red-tailed hawk (two flying together)3
  • Red-winged blackbird3
  • White-breasted nuthatch1
  • White-throated sparrow1

There were birds all over the yard today. It was wonderful. I put a new suet feeder out, one that’s starling-proof. The downy woodpeckers and northern flickers checked it out, but they aren’t sure how to get at the suet.

The male and female northern flickers perched in one of the sweetgum trees for a long time. The wind mussed their feathers. They looked like they weren’t sure what to do next. Dark-eyed juncos and white-throated sparrows hopped around on the lawn like robotic toys. American goldfinches and pine siskins amiably shared the two nyjer feeders. Common grackles, house finches, house sparrows, mourning doves, and northern cardinals occupied the pole feeder all day. In the evening, a male white-breasted nuthatch bustled up and down one of the sweetgums. A bit later, two brown creepers scaled the shaggy bark of the silver maple. As the sun set, I heard a Carolina wren singing day into night. He must have had a good meal to sing like that.

I saw several birds while my partner and I ran errands in the morning. The most notable was a bald eagle flying over 103rd Street just east of Antioch with a squirrel in its talons. I believe I also saw several juvenile bald eagles in the sky in Shawnee, Kansas.

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


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

Twitter: Bed of Moss

A red-winged blackbird has come to visit. What a surprise.

Over the din of construction equipment and yard tools, the male red-winged blackbird calls for a mate.

The red-winged blackbird seems to be serenading a pair of courting mourning doves.

A feather floats to the ground. Whose?

Even after I forget who I am, I think I will remember birds.

Today, my Turin horse was a pair of bluebirds trying to nest in a construction zone.

The next time you see a bird, know that part of me is with you.

I kept one thousand words in a cage, then I set them free.

On new asphalt, the muddy tracks of Canada geese look like hieroglyphs.

Unable to accept what is, I tried to will a dead goldfinch back to life today.

If I hold your neck, will it unbreak? If I open your eyes, will you see? If I run my fingers along your feathers, will you fly? Summer is coming, your brightest season. Now you lay in my hand, your toes curling as if around a branch. I breathe and you don’t.

Today, my Turin horse was a small bird who died because he tried to fly into the reflection of a tree.

I laid the goldfinch to rest on a bed of moss and covered him with dried hydrangea blossoms.

In this world / we walk on the roof of hell, / gazing at flowers. — Issa

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 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 14, 2018

  • Accipiter sp.3
  • American goldfinch1
  • American robin1,2
  • Black-capped chickadee (heard)2
  • Blue jay1
  • Canada goose1,2
  • Cooper’s hawk2
  • Dark-eyed junco1,2
  • Downy woodpecker1,2
  • European starling1,2,3
  • Gadwall2
  • Great blue heron2
  • Gull sp. (overhead)1
  • House finch1
  • House sparrow1
  • Mallard2
  • Mourning dove1,2
  • Northern cardinal (heard at LCP)1,2
  • Northern flicker (male and female, both at home and at LCP)1,2
  • Pine siskin1
  • Red-bellied woodpecker1,2
  • Red-tailed hawk1
  • White-throated sparrow1,2
  • Wood duck2

It was overcast and 36 degrees in the morning. One dozen American goldfinches were flitting all over the sweetgum trees and nyjer feeders. Four pine siskins came to one of the nyjer feeders just before 8 a.m. No eastern bluebirds today.

Just before sundown, my partner and I took our dog to Leawood City Park, where we saw several birds, including the red-headed woodpecker who flew in circles high above us while sounding an alarm call. We also saw a male northern flicker clinging to a nesting cavity in a tree. He was calling loudly and engaging in a mating dance. A female sat inside the cavity watching the display. (It’s not like she had a choice. He pretty much had her pinned in.)

Locations — in my backyard, at Leawood City Park, and while driving to and from these locations.


1. Seen at home
2. Seen at Leawood City Park
3. Seen while driving

Bird Roll Call: February 11, 2018

  • American goldfinch
  • American robin
  • Black-capped chickadee
  • Blue jay
  • Canada goose (overhead)
  • Carolina wren (heard)
  • Dark-eyed junco
  • Downy woodpecker
  • Eastern bluebird
  • European starling
  • Great horned owl (heard)
  • Gull sp. (overhead)
  • House finch
  • House sparrow
  • Mourning dove
  • Northern cardinal
  • Northern flicker
  • Red-bellied woodpecker
  • Red-tailed hawk
  • White-throated sparrow

It was 13 degrees out and snowy this morning. Snowflakes collected in the silver maple’s shaggy bark. American goldfinches were everywhere. The pair of bluebirds came early, just before 7 a.m. and again at about 8:30 a.m. I saw the squirrel with one eye, whom I haven’t seen for several weeks. The house finch with missing wing feathers didn’t make an appearance today. This has me worried. I don’t think he made it through the cold snap. With so many missing feathers, the odds were against him.

Location — in my backyard.

Bird Roll Call: February 9, 2018

  • American goldfinch
  • American robin (including a leucistic male**)
  • Black-capped chickadee
  • Blue jay
  • Canada goose (overhead)
  • 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

I saw a leucistic male American robin at the birdbath while I was outside with my dog. His head was fully pigmented, but his breast, belly and back were covered in white patches. I heard an American goldfinch’s call for the second time in as many days. I looked up at the sweetgum tree and saw a male goldfinch sitting on a branch, talking away. Four white-throated sparrows were present today, which is more than I’ve seen in the yard for some time.

Location — in my backyard. A double asterisk indicates first sighting in my yard.

Bird Roll Call: January 22, 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-throated sparrow

Several pine siskins visited the yard today. This is only the second time I’ve seen them on our property. They were fraternizing with the American goldfinches, who blew into the yard like confetti all day.

I saw a male house finch with several missing wing feathers — seventeen of them by my count — exposing the downy feathers underneath. I’ve read that this means the bird had a close call, most likely with a hawk. He seemed happy and was content to feed at my black oil sunflower seed feeder. I don’t know how birds live each day so close to death.

The female northern flicker visited the yard again. She seemed to be looking for the male flicker, but he was nowhere to be found. Eventually, she flew away, but not before having a bite of plain suet.

Location — in my backyard.

Bird Roll Call: January 15, 2018

  • American goldfinch
  • Black-capped chickadee
  • Blue jay
  • Carolina wren
  • Canada goose (overhead)
  • Cooper’s hawk (flying behind house)
  • Dark-eyed junco
  • Downy woodpecker
  • European starling
  • House finch
  • House sparrow
  • Mourning dove
  • Northern cardinal
  • Northern flicker
  • Red-bellied woodpecker
  • Red-tailed hawk (flying behind house)
  • White-throated sparrow

At least two dozen American goldfinches visited mid-morning.

Location — in my backyard.