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

Bird Roll Call: March 20, 2018

  • American goldfinch
  • American robin
  • Blue jay
  • Black-capped chickadee
  • Brown creeper
  • Common grackle
  • Cooper’s hawk
  • Dark-eyed junco
  • Downy woodpecker
  • European starling
  • House finch
  • House sparrow
  • Mourning dove
  • Northern cardinal
  • Northern flicker (heard)
  • Pine siskin
  • Red-bellied woodpecker
  • Red-tailed hawk
  • Turkey vulture (overhead)**
  • White-throated sparrow

I saw a turkey vulture flying high above the house today, a first for me since I’ve been paying attention to birds. On the other end of the size spectrum, I saw a brown creeper on one of the sweetgum trees, my third sighting of this species in my yard.

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

Bird Roll Call: March 17, 2018

  • American crow1
  • American goldfinch1
  • American robin1,2,3,4
  • Belted kingfisher (heard)3
  • Black-capped chickadee1,2,3
  • Blue jay1,2
  • Brown creeper1,2
  • Bufflehead (three pairs)4
  • Canada goose1,2,4
  • Carolina wren1
  • Common grackle1,3,4
  • Dark-eyed junco (including both pink-sided** and slate subspecies in yard)1,2,3
  • Downy woodpecker1,2,3
  • Eastern bluebird2
  • Eastern phoebe2
  • European starling1,2,4
  • Fox sparrow1
  • Golden-crowned kinglet**1
  • House finch1
  • House sparrow1
  • Great blue heron3
  • Killdeer (heard)2
  • Mallard2,4
  • Mourning dove1,2,4
  • Northern cardinal1,2,3
  • Northern flicker1,3
  • Pine siskin1
  • Red-bellied woodpecker1,2,3
  • Red-winged blackbird (male)1,3
  • Song sparrow2
  • Tufted titmouse3
  • White-throated sparrow1
  • Wood duck2
  • Yellow-rumped warbler2

I saw my first-ever golden-crowned kinglet in the yard this morning. I also saw two birds in the yard for the second time ever: a brown creeper and a fox sparrow. The blue jays have been coming closer and closer to me as I fill their peanut wreath each morning. Today, one landed on the fence just a few feet away. The bird chattered at me, first in two notes followed by two more notes a half-step lower than the first pair, then — as its impatience grew — in four longer, repeated notes. I responded by calling “peanut, peanut” in a descending half-step, which I’ve started doing whenever I am filling the feeder. Beofore I even began walking away, the jay was slipping a peanut from the wreath. Four more jays followed suit when I was at a safe distance.

It was colder today, which might explain why the pine siskins returned. They stayed all day long. My last sighting of them in the yard was March 7 and, before that, February 19. Among the dark-eyed juncos, I spotted my first pink-sided subspecies among the slate-colored birds who usually visit.

My partner and I saw a leucistic yellow-rumped warbler with a nearly all-white head at Leawood City Park. An eastern phoebe was flying low over the lake at the park hunting for insects. I was able to view the bird for a long time, which will help me identify the species in the future. Eastern bluebirds and yellow-rumped warblers flitted about on the rocky shoulders of the creek.

Locations — in my backyard, at Leawood City Park, at a local creek, and at Meadowbrook Park. A double asterisk indicates first sighting in my yard.


1. Seen at home
2. Seen at Leawood City Park
3. Seen at a local creek
4. Seen at Meadowbrook Park

Twitter: A World of Wounds

One of the penalties of an ecological education is that one lives alone in a world of wounds. Much of the damage inflicted on land is quite invisible to laymen. An ecologist must either harden his shell and make believe that the consequences of science are none of his business, or he must be the doctor who sees the marks of death in a community that believes itself well and does not want to be told otherwise. ― Aldo Leopold

I enjoy feeding the birds.

A murmuration of starlings buzzed the cars on I-35 today.

The female northern flicker appears to have selected one of two suitors. The rejected male spent the day looking for the female. He sat in my yard calling for her. “Kyeer, kyeer. Kyeer, kyeer.”

The red-tailed hawk returned to the yard this afternoon. I have a crush.

These birds are my commitment remaining in the present.

I heard a blue jay cheep like a small songbird at the red-tailed hawk today. I’ve never seen that approach before, and I have no idea what informed the behavior.

I just played Vivaldi on my flute for the house finches.

Many people have an idea of what a bird is, but because they don’t pay close attention to birds, they don’t know what an actual bird is.

If you don’t pay close attention to birds, don’t write about them. Certainly don’t snare them in your nondescript haiku. Real birds deserve better than what you have to say about them.

I like men who walk their dogs in the woods.

Two paths trisect the snow-mantled yard: one to the birdbath, another to the bird feeders.

Juxtaposition: a brown creeper on the sweetgum, a bald eagle in the sky.

When I grow up, I want to spend all my time with birds.

Bird Roll Call: February 6, 2018

  • American goldfinch
  • Bald eagle (overhead)**
  • Black-capped chickadee
  • Blue jay
  • Brown creeper**
  • Canada goose (overhead)
  • Carolina wren
  • Dark-eyed junco
  • Downy woodpecker
  • Eastern bluebird
  • European starling
  • House finch
  • House sparrow
  • Mourning dove
  • Northern cardinal
  • Northern flicker
  • Pine siskin
  • Red-bellied woodpecker
  • White-throated sparrow

A brown creeper visited the yard for the first time today, moments before the first bald eagle I’ve seen in our neighborhood flew overhead. The eastern bluebirds visited again. That makes three days in a row. They are spoiling me.

A male northern flicker landed on the utility line early in the day, followed by another male. The two flew off together. As the morning wore on, birds fluttered all over the yard. Dark-eyed juncos zipped around the neighbor’s crabapple like stunt planes. The Carolina wren ate from the upside-down suet feeder. A junco tried to imitate the wren but wasn’t able to navigate the upside-down perching maneuver. Later, when he was done eating, the wren dropped to the ground to scoop snow into his bill.

The birdbath breathed mist into the air. Dark against the light sky, a blue jay flew above the trees with a peanut in its mouth.

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

Twitter: Cabinet of Curiosities

My neighbor’s back porch looks like a cabinet of curiosities.

Note from an eBird user: American tree sparrow seen near artificial flowers at roadside memorial.

Church bells in the morning. Train whistle at night.

I follow a falling leaf almost all the way to the ground before realizing it’s not a bird.

The day is a glass marble being rolled toward the light.

Cardinal: You glow like a ruby in a tarnished ring.

A tree grows inside an old silo.

We just rescued a yellow-rumped warbler who was stuck in a park toilet.

American robin: You look like a stone fruit.

Spurred by a crow’s alert, more than thirty cedar waxwings shook off the Bradford pear in which they had flickered and lolled.

Meadowlarks bound through a freshly cut field as if directing a singalong.

Brown creeper: You look like a small knot on this Brobdingnagian tree.

In the quiet field, flying sparrows sound like cards being riffle-shuffled.

Western meadowlark: You’ve thrown your drab office blazer over your couture evening dress.

I look up to see the birds in my yard flying between bubbles. I look over to see a neighbor and her child playing with a soap bubble machine.

Canada goose: On takeoff, your wings sound like umbrellas opening and closing at full tilt.

Chickadee at Old Longview Lake: Your deformed foot doesn’t keep you from vaulting like an aerialist.

I saw an orange house finch today. I think this is the fellow who sings me awake each morning.

The blue jays seem to be testing shell peanuts for weight before making their selections.

Twenty-eight robins just landed in my sweetgum tree.

Two house sparrows fight over a feather.

Evening: The birds darken.

Two Carolina wrens hunt for spiders in my silver maple’s trunk flares.

This is the best thing I’ve read all day: “Carolina wrens defend their territories with constant singing.”

It’s not a ghost / which keeps you up at night / It’s certainty — Jeff Schwaner