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 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.

Location — in my backyard and at Shawnee Mission Park.


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

Bird Roll Call: February 12, 2018

  • American crow (overhead)
  • American goldfinch
  • American robin
  • Blue jay
  • Canada goose (overhead)
  • Dark-eyed junco
  • Downy woodpecker
  • Eastern bluebird
  • European starling
  • Gull sp. (overhead)
  • House finch
  • House sparrow
  • Mourning dove
  • Northern cardinal
  • Northern flicker
  • Pine siskin
  • Red-bellied woodpecker
  • Red-tailed hawk
  • White-throated sparrow

A mourning dove fell from the sky like a paper airplane. American goldfinches clung to the top of the sweetgum tree like seed pods. The pair of eastern bluebirds arrived late and left after spending a few moments at the birdbath. The male and female northern flickers visited separately during the day. In the afternoon, the male did his territorial rolling rattle call from the patio roof. The sound echoed throughout the house.

Location — in my backyard.

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 10, 2018

  • American goldfinch1
  • American robin1
  • Belted kingfisher2
  • Black-capped chickadee1
  • Blue jay1
  • Canada goose3
  • Dark-eyed junco1
  • Downy woodpecker1
  • Eastern bluebird1
  • European starling1,3
  • Gull sp.1,3
  • House finch1
  • House sparrow1
  • Mourning dove1
  • Northern cardinal1
  • Northern flicker (two males)1
  • Pine siskin1
  • Red-bellied woodpecker (male and female)1
  • Red-tailed hawk1
  • White-throated sparrow1

I woke late. Several house finches were already piled into the dogwood for a mid-morning nap. The male red-bellied woodpecker was filling a rotted-out sweetgum branch with food. Squirrels were purging old material from their nest in the other sweetgum tree. The detritus fell to the ground and scared the dark-eyed juncos.

A red-tailed hawk made a brief appearance, and the birds only acted half scared. This hawk looked much younger than the last one who visited. Its eyes were barely pigmented enough to be called citrine, and its feathers were in pristine condition. The hawk didn’t stay long. After it left, the songbirds returned to their business which, on a frigid day like this, amounted to eating as much as possible to provide the calories needed for the long, cold night ahead. I read that birds can lose up to ten percent of their body weight on winter nights. Foods like suet, peanut butter, and sunflower seeds provide the fats that are essential this time of year.

Two male northern flickers arrived in the yard at about the same time. They seemed to size each other up. I don’t know if these are the same two males who were vying for the female’s attention a little while back or if the area is overrun with these fellows. The two sat on the fence together for a little bit then separated and did their own thing, one staying on the fence and the other foraging in the garden despite the mild protestations of mourning doves.

Eastern bluebirds arrived in the afternoon. I put peanut butter bits out for them, but they haven’t found them yet. They primarily visit for the water, which is in short supply when everything freezes.

My partner and I went out looking for a suitable branch to append to the main feeder pole. We ended up behind a lawn and garden store in an area that overlooks part of Indian Creek. I stepped to the edge of the cut bank just as a belted kingfisher flew across the water with a fish in its mouth. We rounded out the day with a few Canada geese before returning home with a branch that had broken off a flowering tree in a Walmart parking lot. It wasn’t easy to cram the branch into the car, but it was worth the effort. The birds are going to love their new perch.

Locations — in my backyard, at Indian Creek near 103rd and Roe, and at Indian Creek near 103rd and Metcalf.


1. Seen at home
2. Seen at Indian Creek near 103rd and Nall
3. Seen at Indian Creek near 103rd and Metcalf

Bird Roll Call: February 8, 2018

  • American goldfinch1
  • American robin1
  • Black-capped chickadee1
  • Blue jay1
  • Canada goose (overhead)1
  • Carolina wren (heard)1
  • Cooper’s hawk1
  • Dark-eyed junco1
  • Downy woodpecker1
  • Eastern bluebird1
  • European starling1
  • House finch1
  • House sparrow1
  • Mourning dove1
  • Northern cardinal1
  • Northern flicker1
  • Pine siskin1
  • Red-bellied woodpecker (male and female**)1
  • Red-tailed hawk1,2
  • Rock pigeon2
  • White-throated sparrow1

Thanks to my new camera, I finally got good photos of the accipiter who frequents my yard. Now that I can see details that I couldn’t make out before, I believe this is actually a Cooper’s hawk, not a sharp-shinned hawk.

The male red-bellied woodpecker had a female with him today. That’s the first time I’ve seen a female in the yard. Very exciting.

I saw the male and female bluebirds at the birdbath just before eight this morning. I saw the male again about an hour later.

Locations — in my backyard and while driving through town. A double asterisk indicates first sighting in my yard.


1. Seen at home
2. Seen while driving

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.

Bird Roll Call: February 5, 2018

  • American crow (overhead)
  • American goldfinch
  • American robin
  • Black-capped chickadee
  • Blue jay
  • Canada goose (overhead)
  • Carolina wren
  • Cooper’s hawk
  • Dark-eyed junco
  • Downy woodpecker
  • Eastern bluebird
  • European starling
  • Gull sp. (overhead)
  • House finch
  • House sparrow
  • Mourning dove
  • Northern cardinal
  • Northern flicker
  • Pine siskin
  • Red-bellied woodpecker
  • White-throated sparrow

I woke to rabbit tracks crisscrossing the yard, along with areas where the snow had been nosed away so the rabbit could graze on the grass beneath it.

The male and female bluebirds returned. Our birdbath must be one of the only sources of water in the area. I saw them three times throughout the day. Each time, I clapped with joy.

At least one dozen mourning doves took off suddenly and flew over the house. The Cooper’s hawk was perched high in my neighbor’s silver maple. When a Cooper’s hawk arrives, the term birdwatching becomes literal: You are suddenly watching just one bird, the one who has scared off all the others.

After about an hour, the littles started making their way back. They didn’t realize the hawk was still standing sentinel in the tree. Dark-eyed juncos, house finches, northern cardinals, and white-throated sparrows hopped along the fence railing and kicked at the ground. Both chickadees visited the feeders. I was happy to see that they made it through the frigid night. (I saw the Carolina wren later as well, another species that’s especially fragile in extremely cold weather.) One of the chickadees saw the hawk and mounted an attack. It was mob behavior without the mob. Though there wasn’t another bird in sight fighting off the hawk, the chickadee wasn’t deterred.

Birds shot through the sky, veering off course as soon as they saw the hawk. Blue jays arrived and sounded their alarms in unison. The hawk flew off to the east.

A blue jay landed in the sweetgum and found the red-bellied woodpecker’s stash of food in the jagged remains of a branch. I knew that spot wouldn’t remain concealed for long. I suppose the jay earned a reward for protecting the other birds and getting the hawk to move on.

I started taking pictures of the birds. Alarm calls rose and fell throughout the morning and into the afternoon, leaving the yard bereft of birds for swaths of time. But overall, the yard was bustling. By the end of the day, twenty-one species had either come for a visit or flown by overhead. It was a good day.

Location — in my backyard.

Twitter: Destroyed

I saw my first-ever red-shouldered hawk today. We watched each other for a long time.

I saw the red-shouldered hawk where the brook and meadow meet. Part of me is still there.

I found where the killdeer go at night.

The internet is screwed. Take up birding.

I went outside to find the blue jay who was imitating a hawk. Instead, I saw a red-tailed hawk shoot out of my sweetgum tree.

There’s a northern flicker nesting in my silver maple.

Why am I so happy? Because I’m destroyed.

Suddenly, the air is snow-colored.

And sometimes a day like today is like / an empty room and this empty room / is a treasure. — Allison Grayhurst

Nostalgia, you are a leaking window.

Like finials, mourning doves embellish my fence on this otherwise unadorned day.

I saw an eastern bluebird in my yard today. I SAW AN EASTERN BLUEBIRD IN MY YARD TODAY.

I found two nests in the silver maple.

Two doors down, a boy rides his toy tractor through the leaves.

All the time I pray to Buddha / I keep on / killing mosquitoes. — Issa

My advice? Find some earth. Walk on it, slowly.

You can find me in the wetlands, but that’s not an invitation to come find me.

Night. A moth at my window. Hello.

I lost my curse words in the woods.

How I look when I see birds is not how I look when I see people.