Friday, December 14, 2007

Guess What We Saw Today!

I keep a bird feeder at work, a tube feeder with a mix of safflower and black-oil sunflower seeds. We are in a fairly busy area, just off a 4 lane highway, near a lot of shopping and fast food places, etc., so I don't expect much. My usual customers are House Sparrows, House Finches, chickadees and titmice, Mourning Doves, and Northern Cardinals. I have been trying for woodpeckers for the last two winters, first with a suet block feeder (starlings mobbed it) and then with a peanut feeder (no takers.) I do have a resident Northern Mockingbird, and have seen a Cooper's Hawk taking a Mourning Dove, plus we have a breeding pair of Red-shouldered Hawks just beyond the housing development behind us, so I have hopes for more variety.

Today, I looked out the window to see two House Finches on the tube feeder, and caught a glimpse of something on the trunk of the Bradford pear tree. Can you see it?

How 'bout now?
OK, here's the enlargement. Can you see me now?

A Yellow-bellied Sapsucker! You could have knocked me over with a feather. After trying unsuccessfully for 2 years for a Downy or Red-bellied, my first woodpecker is the shy, quiet, woodland Sapsucker? Who woulda thunk it?

I called all the staff over to the window and made them watch the sapsucker. "This is a really good bird, guys. You don't usually see sapsuckers in such a busy neighborhood." They were more amused with my uncontrolled glee than they were impressed by the bird.

While creeping around the building, trying for better photos, I spooked Ms. YBSA off her post. (I was wearing a white lab coat. Duh. I know that "Good Birders Don't Wear White.") After she left, I checked the tree trunk and found 3 neat, orderly rows of sapwells, 6 to 8 in each row. They all looked fairly fresh. I hope I didn't scare her away for good - I would love it if she would stay around for the winter.

No red on the throat =
Female Yellow-bellied Sapsucker

I had another good bird today, but no photos of it. On my way into work this morning, a large raptor crossed the road in front of me, flying low over the fields. At first I thought, "I've never seen a Red-tailed Hawk flying that low, and in such dim light, too." Then, it struck me. Great Horned Owl! Whoot! That brings me to 7 raptor species in the last two days.

I also had a great photo op today, but no camera with me. A Cooper's Hawk was lurking about Fast Food Alley, hoping for a morsel of HOSP or EUST. Her perch? The bucket-shaped sign at KFC. I didn't know whether she was inspecting the bucket for left-over chicken, or whether she was about to be deep-fried in the Colonel's "secret recipe of herbs and spices."


Lisa at Greenbow said...

Lucky you...great yard bird. Congrats on your first woodpecker, and such a special one.

Your description of the Coop at KFC was good enough. LOL

Susan Gets Native said...

Whoot! A sapsucker! At work!
I can imagine your staff sneaking looks behind your back, smiling at your joy. Non-birders are a funny lot.

*taking another glug of Nyquil*

A pic of a Coop on a KFC sign would be priceless!

Marvin said...

Congratulations on the sapsucker!

I prefer my Coops extra chrispy.

Anonymous said...

We have been blessed by woodpeckers galore, coming to our suet. We had a pair of pileateds who had two offspring. What a treat to see them bring the juveniles to the tree near the feeder, feeding them at first, and then making them try it on their own. We have downys on a regular basis, and an occasional hairy. Lately we've had a red-bellied who, interestingly enough, seems to prefer the seed feeder to the suet. We had a sapsucker, but we've seen him only in the trees. He hasn't ventured to the suet.

They are all wonderful birds and we are truly delighted on a daily basis.