Bird Roll Call: March 31, 2018

  • American crow4
  • American goldfinch1
  • American kestrel2
  • American robin2,3,4
  • Black-capped chickadee1,2
  • Blue jay1
  • Blue-winged teal3
  • Brown creeper2
  • Brown-headed cowbird2
  • Bufflehead3
  • Canada goose3,4
  • Common grackle1,2,3
  • Cooper’s hawk1
  • Dark-eyed junco1
  • Double-crested cormorant2
  • Downy woodpecker1,2
  • Eastern bluebird2,3
  • European starling1,4
  • Fox sparrow 22
  • Great blue heron2
  • Harris’s sparrow2
  • House finch1
  • House sparrow1
  • Killdeer2
  • Mallard3,4
  • Mourning dove1
  • Northern cardinal1,2
  • Northern flicker2
  • Red-bellied woodpecker1,2
  • Red-tailed hawk (heard)3
  • Red-winged blackbird1,2
  • Ring-billed gull2
  • Rock pigeon4
  • Tree swallow2
  • Trumpeter swan4
  • Turkey vulture1,2
  • White-breasted nuthatch2
  • White-throated sparrow1
  • Yellow-rumped warbler2

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


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

Bird Roll Call: March 29, 2018

  • American goldfinch1
  • American robin1
  • Black-capped chickadee1
  • Blue jay1
  • Brown creeper (two)1
  • Bufflehead3
  • Canada goose2,3
  • Common grackle1
  • Cooper’s hawk / sharp-shinned hawk3
  • Dark-eyed junco1
  • Downy woodpecker1
  • Eastern bluebird3
  • European starling1
  • Golden-crowned kinglet1
  • Great blue heron2
  • House finch1
  • House sparrow1
  • Killdeer2,3
  • Mourning dove1
  • Northern cardinal1
  • Red-bellied woodpecker1
  • Red-tailed hawk1
  • White-throated sparrow1
  • Wood duck3

Locations — in my backyard, at Indian Creek, and at Meadowbrook Park.


1. Seen at home
2. Seen at Indian Creek
3. Seen at Meadowbrook Park

Bird Roll Call: March 13, 2018

  • Cooper’s / sharp-shinned hawk2,5
  • American coot5
  • American goldfinch1
  • American robin1,5
  • Black-capped chickadee1
  • Blue jay1
  • Bufflehead (three pairs)2
  • Canada goose2,5
  • Common grackle1,5
  • Dark-eyed junco1,4
  • Downy woodpecker1
  • European starling1,2,4,5
  • Great blue heron4,5
  • Great horned owl2
  • House finch1
  • House sparrow1
  • Mallard2,5
  • Mourning dove1,3,5
  • Mute swan3
  • Northern cardinal1,5
  • Northern flicker1
  • Red-bellied woodpecker1
  • Red-tailed hawk2
  • Red-winged blackbird (male)1,5
  • White-throated sparrow1

Locations — in my backyard, at Meadowbrook Park, at Villa Medici, at a local creek, and at Sprint Wetlands.


1. Seen at home
2. Seen at Meadowbrook Park
3. Seen at Villa Medici
4. Seen at a local creek
5. Seen at Sprint Wetlands

Bird Roll Call: March 11, 2018

  • American crow1,3
  • American goldfinch1
  • American robin1,3
  • Black-capped chickadee1
  • Blue jay1
  • Bufflehead (two pairs)2
  • Canada goose3
  • Common grackle1
  • Dark-eyed junco1,2
  • Downy woodpecker1
  • European starling1,3
  • Great blue heron3
  • Gull sp. (overhead)3
  • House finch1
  • House sparrow1
  • Mallard2,3
  • Mourning dove1,2,3
  • Northern cardinal1
  • Northern flicker1
  • Northern mockingbird3
  • Red-bellied woodpecker1
  • Red-winged blackbird (male)1
  • Red-tailed hawk1,3
  • Rock pigeon3
  • White-throated sparrow1

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


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

Bird Roll Call: March 10, 2018

  • American crow2,3
  • American goldfinch1
  • American robin1,2,3
  • Blue jay1
  • Bufflehead**2
  • Canada goose1,2
  • Common grackle1
  • Cooper’s hawk1
  • Dark-eyed junco1
  • Downy woodpecker1
  • European starling1,2,3
  • House finch1
  • House sparrow1
  • Killdeer2
  • Mallard2
  • Mourning dove1,3
  • Northern cardinal1
  • Northern flicker1
  • Northern mockingbird3
  • Red-bellied woodpecker1
  • Red-winged blackbird (male)1
  • Red-tailed hawk1,2,3
  • Rock pigeon3
  • White-throated sparrow1

Locations — in my backyard, at Meadowbrook Park, and while driving through town. A double asterisk indicates first sighting at this location.


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

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

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 15, 2018

  • American goldfinch1
  • American robin1,2
  • Belted kingfisher2
  • Blue jay1
  • Canada goose (overhead)1,2
  • Dark-eyed junco (heard at MP)1,2
  • Downy woodpecker (heard at MP)1,2
  • Eastern bluebird2
  • European starling1,2
  • Gull sp. (overhead)1
  • House finch1
  • House sparrow1
  • Mourning dove1,2
  • Northern cardinal1
  • Northern flicker1
  • Pine siskin1
  • Red-bellied woodpecker (heard at MP)1,2
  • Red-tailed hawk2
  • White-breasted nuthatch1
  • White-throated sparrow1

A blue jay imitated a starling today, repeating a mechanical two-note vocalization as it scanned the yard looking for peanuts. At 8:30 a.m., I opened the window and listened to the church bells. In the early afternoon, I heard a dark-eyed junco singing and chipping in a way I’d not hear before. A male northern flicker drummed loudly throughout the day on various surfaces. Some of them sounded more like metal than wood.

At sunset, my partner and I took our dog out for a walk at the park across the street. We saw a red-tailed hawk who was probably still a light morph but who had darker markings than the ones who visit our house. Its eyes were dark, too, like smokey quartz, which is indicative of an older bird. We kept walking and ran into a pair of eastern bluebirds who were exploring an old woodpecker nest as a potential nesting site. I hope they find it suitable.

Near one of the park’s interconnected lakes, we came across a female belted kingfisher sitting on a stone wall. She’s probably the same one we saw in that location back in December. As we walked away, we heard her rattling from one side of the lake to the other while male mallards pumped their heads and performing a move called “head up, tail up” to impress females. Several bluebirds darted from another lake to a nearby tree. A train whistled in the distance.

Locations — in my backyard and at Meadowbrook Park.


1. Seen at home
2. Seen at Meadowbrook Park

Bird Roll Call: January 25, 2018

  • American crow3
  • American goldfinch1
  • American robin1,2,4
  • Black-capped chickadee4
  • Blue jay1,4
  • Cackling goose2
  • Canada goose1,2,4,5
  • Crolina wren (heard)1,4
  • Common goldeneye2
  • Dark-eyed junco1,2,4
  • Duck sp. (overhead)5
  • Downy woodpecker1,4
  • Eastern bluebird2
  • European starling1,3,4,5
  • Falcon sp.5
  • Gadwall2
  • Great blue heron2,3
  • Hairy woodpecker2
  • Herring gull2
  • Hooded merganser2
  • House finch1
  • House sparrow1
  • Mallard2,4,5
  • Mourning dove1,3,4,5
  • Northern cardinal1,4
  • Northern flicker1,2
  • Pine siskin (juvenile, I believe)2
  • Red-bellied woodpecker1,4
  • Red-headed woodpecker4
  • Red-tailed hawk2,3,4
  • Ring-billed gull1,2,4
  • Rock pigeon6
  • Tufted titmouse2,4
  • White-throated sparrow1,4
  • Wood duck4
  • Yellow-rumped warbler2

The faint “pip, pip, pip” of juncos woke me this morning. Just as I sat down to watch birds, an American robin appeared on a utility line out of nowhere. (They’re stealthy like that: not there and then there and then not there again.) Northern cardinals ate from the safflower seed feeder. A group of four dark-eyed juncos — the source of at least some of the pipping — gathered to feed on spilled nyjer seed. Gulls flew over and all the birds disappeared.

Who am I? What do I believe? What do I value? What is my worth? These are questions I wrote in the margins of my bird journal. I had things to work through as I watched the birds today. Make that every day.

Squirrels raced up and down the trees like fleas over a dog’s back. I thought about a study with crows at the University of Washington that showed fear of harmful people was passed down through generations. Participants in the study wore a specific mask while trapping and banding crows, something the crows aren’t fond of. Thereafter, the crows would scold anyone they saw wearing the same mask. Eleven years after the study, the crows on the UW campus still reacted negatively to anyone with the mask on, even though they themselves never had any direct experience with the masked individuals. (That is, they had never been trapped or banded by anyone wearing the mask.) I thought about trauma in humans and how it’s passed down from one generation to the next. Birds appear to have a region in their brains that is not unlike the human amygdala, an area of the brain that is believed to show increased activity in people who have experienced trauma.

The female northern flicker landed on one of my sweetgums. A male followed. He initiated a mating dance. She hopped away. He hopped closer. He tried the mating dance again. She did not reciprocate. They flew off together after a blue jay came crashing down near them.

Nobody’s opinions define or defile my opinions. Nobody’s beliefs nullify my beliefs. Nobody’s experiences supplant my experiences. Nobody’s approaches discredit the approaches that work for me.

The flickers came back. She wouldn’t dance with him. She preened. She preened some more, her beak plunging into her rump feathers and dragging along the entire length of her tail feathers. He watched her. She ate the peanut bark I’d spread in a knot on the sweetgum’s trunk. He flew to a lower branch to be closer to her. She continued eating while he landed on the ground and ate what had fallen from her beak, which I found at once sweet and miserable.

I value what I perceive. I value what I have learned. I value what I have overcome. I value my strength.

Squirrels mated in a branch above the flickers. European starlings mobbed the peanut bark. From the ground, the flickers watched the intruders squabble for a few minutes before flying into the silver maple. Fifteen Canada geese flew by. A blue jay sounded the alarm call. Others joined in. I couldn’t see the threat, but most of the birds in the yard cleared out. The jays quieted down, though they continued to patrol the yard. Seven more geese flew by.

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


1. Seen at my home
2. Seen at Lake Olathe
3. Seen at Sprint Wetlands
4. Seen at Leawood City Park
5. Seen at Meadowbrook Park
6. Seen while driving