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 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 24, 2018

  • American crow2
  • American goldfinch1,2
  • American robin2
  • Black-capped chickadee2
  • Blue jay1
  • Brown creeper2
  • Canada goose (overhead)1,2
  • Carolina wren2
  • Common goldeneye2
  • Cooper’s / sharp-shinned hawk (one perched and one soaring)2
  • Dark-eyed junco1,2
  • Downy woodpecker1,2
  • European starling1,2
  • Gadwall2
  • Great blue heron2
  • Hooded merganser2
  • House finch1
  • House sparrow1
  • Mallard2
  • Mourning dove1
  • Northern cardinal1,2
  • Red-bellied woodpecker1,2
  • Red-headed woodpecker*2
  • Red-tailed hawk (overhead)2
  • White-throated sparrow1,2
  • Yellow-rumped warbler2

There were no birds in my yard when I woke, which was a little later than usual. I decided to sit at the window anyway. I thought I could spend some time meditating at the very least. Moments after I sat down, more than one hundred Canada geese flew by overhead. Their motion and sound brought the sky to life. I felt my spirits lift. Slowly, birds arrived in the yard, but not in the numbers I usually see. I don’t know if hawks were keeping them away or if the warmer weather makes things like my birdbath and feeders less appealing. Notably, I didn’t see any black-capped chickadees, Carolina wrens, or northern flickers today. I didn’t even hear a wren, which is unusual. Perhaps I simply woke too late to hear the birds sing.

Mid-morning I decided to see if a friend wanted to accompany me to Leawood City Park, where I hoped there would be more activity than there was in my yard. Things were relatively slow there, too. There was no sign of the hairy woodpeckers, ring-billed ducks, or wood ducks. My friend did, however, make an excellent discovery: a red-headed woodpecker on a branch at the top of a tree. This was her second time birding. What a find for a second outing! This was my first time seeing a red-headed woodpecker in real life. It is even more beautiful than any photo could suggest. Its head feathers were the color of red velvet cake and looked like they were as soft as actual velvet. Its folded wings gave its back the appearance of being half black, half white. Its rump and underparts were as white as the snow that still dotted drifts of leaves near the path. Its black, forked tail was pressed hard against the branch as it drilled holes in the wood with the precision and consideration of an artist painting Chinese characters on a handscroll.

Red-headed woodpeckers have been listed as “near threatened” by the IUCN since 2004, which means the species could be threatened with extinction in the near future. I wish that weren’t the case. That knowledge affected my experience today. I was incredibly happy to see a rare bird but extremely upset about the circumstances that have contributed to declining numbers in these birds, namely loss and degradation of its habitats.

Another interesting find was a turtle sunning on a stick protruding from the creek. I believe it was a red-eared slider. They brumate this time of year, but the warmer weather we’ve been having may have enticed this one to come to the surface.

When I got home, the birds in my yard were busy at the feeders. Still no black-capped chickadees, Carolina wrens, or northern flickers anywhere in sight. After the northern cardinals and mourning doves called it a night, I ambled out to the birdbath and changed out the water for tomorrow’s visitors. It’s going to be warm. I’m not sure I’ll have much company, but I’ll sit at the window and wait.

Locations — in my backyard and at Leawood City Park. A single asterisk indicates first sighting.


1. Seen at my home
2. Seen at Leawood City Park