Posted by: atowhee | January 13, 2022


Comes a day without rain and wind, comes the time to do all the postponed garden chores, well, a few of them at least. Also, subconsciously, do a survey of the birds about, and their behavior.
First, those nervous, never-still Bushtits. Rather than hope one will perch for three seconds or longer, I now use the projected-path theory. The Bushtits are a socially tight-bound flock. One or two will lead in a certain direction and then pulses of one to four more ‘tits will follow on almost the same path. After watching a few hundred Bushtit flocks your eyes and brain will be able to project where they’re likely to go next, from this ceanothus across a six foot gap to the bare lilac, then over the hedge to the nandina.
So discern the general flow, then find a finely-lighted location about ten seconds beyond their present location. They rarely hesitate for long. Aim the camera about eye level (Bushtits rarely go above 20 feet, hardly ever to the ground). Get your camera focused on the plant’s front limbs and twigs, leafless just adds to your odds of success. Await the arrival and begin shooting without let up. Bursts, baby, bursts.
Here’s my example for a rainless day this week:

Trying to keep feeders clean and siskins healthy is a job in wet weather. Then there are the accipiters. Here are two feathers out of a small clump found in our garden. The dark line between the two is exactly one inch long. It was likely a healthy meal for hawk and not disease for finch that placed these bird-less feathers in a tiny pile:


Click on any image for full screen.

The chest pattern–not a uniform dark gray–means this is a first year bird.

I even know many tolerant, kind-hearted bird lovers who wish him ill. I can only say that he didn’t ask to be born an accipiter, and all we animals kill to live, from potatoes to pronghorn, all are on the menu. Even this accipiter will end up in the gullet of a Great Horned Owl, or hundreds of maggots and beetles.


Click here to see most recent birder’s night for Salem Audubon…in includes four photo-sharing segments, including one I narrated with fine photos from Albert Ryckman, taken mostly at Bodega Bay in October. Stars include both pelicans, Snowy Egrets, Snowy Plovers and accompanying shorebirds, numerous other shorebirds. The Bodega Bay segment begins around 51 minutes in. Wait until you the oystercatcher who foundf underwater snails on the bay bottom with his toes!

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