Recognize this fella? If you do, give us a guess in the comments. I’ll check the guesses and post the correct answer later!
No guesses today? Here’s another hint:
If that didn’t give it away, maybe this will:
It’s a young Eastern Bluebird. Members of the thrush family–which also includes the American Robin–have spots to help them hide when they are young.
Many humans feed birds throughout the year. Some only feed in the winter, when food is scarcer for the birds–and us squirrels, mind you! We have seen some humans stop feeding when grackle or starling flocks invade their feeding stations. Believe us, we don’t like the noise and the mess of those big, pushy flocks either.
One of our human neighbors is feeding the birds and has quite a variety of birds coming to visit.
Ms. Flora commented on the pleasant coo of the Mourning Dove, which I’ve noticed, but it’s so common it’s like a background music when we leap around the neighborhood. Mourning Doves are practically everywhere except deep woods, and we don’t have too much of that in suburbia. Hickory and I thought we would look up a little bit about it. We didn’t realize that these birds are hunted! They are no bigger than a robin, so why would people want to eat them?
But they do, and apparently that led to uninteresting discovery: A dove shot in 1998 in Florida had been banded–in 1968 in Georgia. That made the bird at least 30 years and 4 months old! We had no idea these small birds lived that long–to us squirrels, that’s like forever, and something we would only have thought would be the lifespan of something as large as a hawk.
Mourning doves are kind of like chickens, in that they prefer to scratch and pick their food off the ground. We have sort of battle going with them under the feeders. They are round enough that they don’t seem to like perching feeders, but will eat off those tray feeders.
They’re mighty quick to land and take offer and do startle easily. If you haven’t heard their coo, here’s a link to a nice recording of it on All About Birds.
Stormy skies, leaves falling because of heat, and a flash of something in a tree…
Nope, it’s not a squirrel, but what is it?
Give me your guesses in the comments and I’ll check back later with the answer!
Aren’t brownish-grayish birds some of the hardest to figure out? But if you look carefully, that’s only his back…
Ok, we admit you needed a longer look. Flashes of birds in the bush rarely lead to identification. It’s the white belly that gives this bird away as an Eastern Kingbird–and a white edge across the tip of the tail, but that isn’t visible here. These fellows love catching insects on the wing, so you’ll often see them flip out of a bush, and then right back in again.
That’s during the summer. Come fall, kingbirds will start to gather into flocks for the winter, and switch over their diets to eating fruits.
Recognize this LBJ? That’s shorthand for Little Brown Job, a term we squirrels finally figured out that you humans use to call birds you cannot recognize.
Give your guesses in the comments and I’ll check back later!
No guesses, but this is a tough little nut to crack! Several woodland birds in our area have this brown back and speckled breast, so here’s another image of its back.
It has a uniform brown on the back and wings as well as the tail, which is a good identifier along with the bit of white at the eye that this is a Swainson’s thrush. A similar thrush in size and coloring is the Hermit thrush, but he has a reddish tail, as seen here:
With this coloring, these thrushes hide very well, despite mainly feeding on the ground where they eat earthworms, snails and insects. We know that many humans find and identify them by song–and we squirrels have to agree that the Hermit thrush wins the singing contest!
Eleven different types of thrushes are found in Virginia, including two you probably know mush better: the American Robin and bluebirds! Want to see more thrushes in your yard? Here’s a great article by The Spruce on How to Attract Thrushes to Your Yard.
The leaves are coming down, which means our nests are exposed!
Before the wind blows it to pieces, this is an American Robins nest. Well, we squirrels don’t really want you humans finding our hiding spots, but we understand you find it interesting to see where we and the birds spent our summer. Hickory and I have been packing extra leaves in our leaf nests for weeks now. We’ve heard there won’t be much snow, but that doesn’t mean it won’t be cold!
Did anyone else notice it got cold really quickly? Puff your fur or feathers or whatever you got there!
Recognize this late nester?
I’ll check back later!
We admit this is a tough one–only a dark-feathered back and a broad yellow beak. And maybe you can see a hint of her nest, made of twigs.
This little lady is a common songbird in our part of northern Virginia–an American Robin.
See the similarities?
Fun facts: robin nests are constructed of approximately 350 twigs and pieces of grass, each about 6 inches long. The robin uses mud, collected one beak at a time, to ‘cement’ the nest together, then lines the inside with more grasses.
Want more information? This American Robin page on Learner.org helped us with its good facts.
We are a bit behind, but here are the updates of the Eastern Bluebird chicks, hatched and being cared for by their mother!
Eastern Bluebirds have begun laying eggs!
Rain and more rain, and now we’ve got leaves and flowers and bugs and worms! It’s a squirrel’s delight, but also a bird’s.
We’re at work, and so are they…
Making more birds!
Many thanks to Janny for catching this mom robin on her nest and sharing her photo with us!