January has been a rather slow month for bird observations… until today. Birds were quite bountiful.
This pair of Northern Flickers frolicked around the Red Alder tree listening for insects hiding in the bark. They were quite vocal as they kwik-wikwikwiked back and forth to each other. I’m always awestruck by the colorful wing plumage displayed by Flickers in flight…sunrise on one wing – sunset on the other.
Almost as fast as the Flickers flew to a new location, a solitary Red-Breasted Sapsucker arrived to feast on bugs in the Big-Leaf Maple tree. I admire the methodical approach this woodpecker employs as it circles the tree pecking neatly spaced holes in search of a meal.
The distinctive call of a Red-tailed Hawk forced my gaze, and the camera lens- UP! Just in time to capture these two photos as the hawk caught a thermal up and over a forested area.
Most Oregonians would probably say a sure sign it’s winter is seeing the subspecies of the Dark-eyed Junco we all know and love – the Oregon Junco. These little birds travel in small flocks. They frequent patchy wooded areas; forage on open ground; and quickly fly into brush or trees when alarmed.
My favorite visitor this winter is the Ruby-crowned Kinglet. These perky, olive-buff colored little birds are active and quickly flit from branch to branch in low understory shrubbery to feed on tiny insects. There must have been a hatch of small flies this afternoon. At least half a dozen Ruby-crowned Kinglets busied themselves in animated feeding- often hovering at branch tips to glean insects. I had difficulty locking in focus; at times letting the camera hang idle so I could savor the delight in simply watching.
This next bird I had to work very hard at capturing the shot… it lived up to its reputation as a very secretive and difficult bird to see. The Marsh Wren moved through grasses that grow at the edge of our wetland area. I found a little knoll and sat patiently for an opportunity to sneak a shot when the Marsh Wren came to an open edge of the grassy area. I think you will agree, the photos were worth the wait!
This is another bird with a high energy factor! The Bushtit moves rapidly through trees with its flock; swarming in search of small insects.
These little hummingbirds were the source of much concern during the sub-freezing weather we experienced during December. It amazes me how tough Anna’s Hummingbirds, who stay for the winter, really are! My husband and I believe some of the spring courtship behaviors were displayed this afternoon.
Bird-watching would not feel complete without spotting the pleasant Black-capped Chickadees and hearing their distinctive song!
A welcome surprise was the arrival of an American Robin. Could spring come early this year?!
(I would like to thank my husband, Ed Wilson, for sharing photos he took: Bushtit, Anna’s Hummingbird courting. All other photographs were taken by Jane Wilson. )