Bird Roll Call: March 27, 2018

  • American goldfinch
  • American robin
  • Black-capped chickadee
  • Blue jay
  • Brown creeper
  • Common grackle
  • Dark-eyed junco
  • Downy woodpecker
  • European starling
  • Golden-crowned kinglet (one)
  • House finch
  • House sparrow
  • Mourning dove
  • Northern cardinal
  • Northern flicker
  • Red-bellied woodpecker
  • Ruby-crowned kinglet (two)*,**
  • White-throated sparrow

Location — in my backyard. A single asterisk indicates first sighting. 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

Bird Roll Call: February 3, 2018

  • American crow3
  • American goldfinch1
  • American robin1,2
  • Black-capped chickadee2
  • Blue jay1,2
  • Carolina wren (heard)2
  • Canada goose2
  • Cooper’s hawk1
  • Dark-eyed junco1
  • Downy woodpecker1,2
  • European starling1,2,3
  • Golden-crowned kinglet2
  • Gull sp.2
  • House finch1
  • House sparrow1
  • Mallard2
  • Mourning dove1,2,3
  • Northern cardinal1,2
  • Northern flicker2
  • Pine siskin1
  • Purple finch2
  • Red-bellied woodpecker1,2
  • Red-headed woodpecker (heard)2
  • Red-tailed hawk2,3
  • Rock pigeon3
  • Tufted titmouse2
  • White-breasted nuthatch2
  • White-throated sparrow1
  • Wood duck2
  • Yellow-rumped warbler2

I watched birds in the morning, as usual, but was distracted by my new camera. I wanted to learn enough to be able to take it to Leawood City Park so I could photograph the red-headed woodpecker.

I made it to the park in the afternoon, camera in tow. Though I heard the woodpecker in its usual spot, I couldn’t locate it. I did see a golden-crowned kinglet. I tried to photograph it and quickly realized the difficulty of that undertaking. The position of the sun was causing problems. The bird was moving too quickly. I couldn’t get the camera pointed where I needed it to point. I came home with images of empty trees, no kinglet anywhere in sight.

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


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

Bird Roll Call: January 19, 2018

  • American crow1,2
  • American goldfinch1,2
  • American robin1,2
  • Black-capped chickadee2,3
  • Blue jay1,2
  • Canada goose (overhead)2
  • Carolina wren2
  • Common goldeneye2
  • Cooper’s / sharp-shinned hawk4
  • Dark-eyed junco1,2,3
  • Downy woodpecker1,2
  • European starling1,2
  • Golden-crowned kinglet*2
  • Great blue heron2
  • Hairy woodpecker (two, both male)*2
  • Hooded merganser2
  • House finch1,2
  • House sparrow1
  • Mallard2
  • Mourning dove1,3
  • Northern cardinal1,2,3
  • Northern flicker1,3
  • Red-bellied woodpecker1,2,3
  • Red-tailed hawk2
  • Ring-billed gull (overhead)1,3
  • Ring-necked duck2
  • Swainson’s thrush*2
  • Tufted titmouse2
  • White-breasted nuthatch2,3
  • White-throated sparrow (including first-winter birds)2,3
  • Wood duck2
  • Yellow-rumpted warbler2

After watching the birds at my house in the morning, I drove to Leawood City Park. I wanted to take advantage of the warmer weather by staying out for the better part of the day.

I crossed over the first bridge at the park and headed toward a viewing area overlooking the creek. I saw a great blue heron surrounded by several species of ducks. The heron looked like a chess piece. The ducks looked like fancy marbles. I looked up and saw a red-bellied woodpecker hollowing out a nest cavity in a nearby tree, his rump and tail protruding from the trunk. A few feet down the path and to my right, I saw my first-ever golden-crowned kinglet. At first, I assumed it was a black-capped chickadee, but it was smaller and the markings were all wrong. I was delighted when the bird lowered its head and revealed its gleaming crest. “Hello,” I said, because I talk to birds now.

I continued down the path to the bridge that crosses the stream. This is a popular bathing spot for birds. Unfortunately, frigid temperatures over the past week had left the creek’s shallow edges frozen down this way. The water was flowing in the middle, but the birds aren’t able to bathe there because the water is too deep. I saw a couple of robins in this area, what I believe was another golden-crowned kinglet, and a handful of house finches.

On my way back, I heard two large animals. I thought they were dogs. When I turned, I saw two white-tailed deer coming toward me then veering to the right. They disappeared into the trees as quickly as they appeared, like someone had opened a life-sized pop-up book, then suddenly snapped it closed. Once they were gone, it didn’t seem like they’d ever been there. A blue jay began sounding its alarm call in the area where I’d seen the ducks. When I went to find out what was going on, I saw that the jay was taking a bath near a tangle of roots from a tree that had fallen into the creek. Perhaps this was the equivalent of humans singing in the shower, only louder and steeped in greater discontent. Two mallards, a male and a female, crunched through leaves as they made their way up the creek’s steep bank. A second female started to follow but quickly returned to the water. The climb seemed to be too arduous for her.

I walked off the main path and onto a dirt trail. Along the way, several Carolina wrens entertained me with their chatter and animated body language. I saw one with spots on its back, a marking I haven’t seen before. My presence flushed a red-tailed hawk from its resting spot. It flew over the creek and into a tree, where it watched a group of dawdling mallards and hooded mergansers. I worried about a male hooded merganser who seemed especially vulnerable to a potential attack. I looked back up at the hawk. It was gone. Deer tracks spilled over the cut bank and picked up again near the water’s edge. Bare branches scratched against one another in a kind of Morse code meant only for the trees. Thin roots snaked across the ground. A thought scratched inside my mind: “Can I like things just as they are?” I kept walking. On the water, the reflection of a plastic bag snagged on a branch bore a striking resemblance to the great blue heron I had just seen.

I crossed back over the first bridge and headed to the right. I saw Carolina wrens, black-capped chickadees, and white-throated sparrows. A cherubic red squirrel dozed on a teeny-tiny branch. I found several wood ducks perching in one of their favorite spots. A male downy woodpecker flitted to my left. To my right, high in a tree, I saw two male hairy woodpeckers. I watched them for a long time to make sure I was identifying them correctly. This was my first hairy woodpecker sighting. On the ground, I saw the remains of an American robin — tufts of downy orange-tipped breast feathers strewn about and a headless body with a gray tail and wings. The bird had just been killed, perhaps by the red-tailed hawk I’d seen. I had walked right into the carnage without realizing it.

Locations — in my backyard, at Leawood City Park, at Roe Park, and while driving to and from these locations. A single asterisk indicates first sighting.


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