Friday, January 13, 2012

New Year Juncos and Favorite Birds of 2011

Happy New Year! Like many, I always look forward to the new year. I’m not sure exactly why, I’m definitely not getting any younger. For me, I think it’s the feeling of having a fresh start – a new chance to get it right. If I could just stick to all those new year promises that I make to better myself (aka resolutions) , then all would be grand. However, we all know how that usually turns out.

As a birdwatcher, the new year brings promise of exciting new adventures and the hope of new life bird or two. The first bird sightings of the new year for me was the dark-eyed junco. Junco’s are not the most exciting of the songbirds, but they are one of my favorite winter-time birds.

Dark-eyed Junco, Bird

Dark-eyed juncos arrive in my area with the first cold spell of the season (usually late October) and spend the first few months of the new year with us. Many associate there arrival with the first snowfall of the season (aka snowbirds), but since our area doesn’t get all that much snow the first cold front will have to do.

Juncos are ground feeding birds so be sure to toss a little bird seed on the ground when filling your feeders. I keep a small bag of white proso millet, one of their favorite, on hand just for that purpose.

With that said, I would like to recap and share a few of my favorite birds, including some lifers, of the past year. Note that I said ‘favorite birds’, not favorite photographs of birds. I clarify because many of my bird photos leave much to be desired. Birds can be quite uncooperative at times.

First up is the red-cockaded woodpecker (RCW). I’ll take any photo I can get of these guys. The primary habitat of the RCW, the
longleaf pine ecosystem, has all but disappeared. This reduction of suitable habitat has caused the number of RCWs to dramatically decline. They are currently listed as endangered and today there
remains approximately 14,000 birds scattered throughout the southeast.

[Click on any photo to enlarge]

Red-cockaded woodpecker, bird, endangered

Here’s a lifer I got the opportunity to get in the marshes of the Outer Banks of North Carolina this past fall – the salt marsh sparrow.

Salt Marsh Sparrow, Bird

Another 2011 favorite bird was the Northern gannet. This one is a juvenile. Northern Gannets spend most of their life at sea.

Northern Gannet Juvenile, sea bird

And while we we’re talking marine birds, check out this large group of brown pelicans. There’s nothing all that unique about seeing a few brown pelicans, but what was impressive to me was the large number of pelicans in one place. This photo was taken this past fall on a pelican rookery located on one of the barrier islands in North Carolina.

Brown Pelican, Bird, Outerbanks, island

It may be tough to tell, but there’s an American redstart singing in the photo below. This photo was taken in the Dismal Swamp this spring and was another lifer for me.

American Redstart, Bird

One of my favorite little woodland songbirds is the brown-headed nuthatch. This was the first photo I ever got of one of these birds. They’re so small and never sit still!

Brown-Headed Nuthatch, Bird

Here’s a red-shouldered hawk sitting on my Christmas décor in my front yard. At least someone likes my decorations.

Red-shouldered hawk, Bird, Raptor

Last, but not least is this group of American goldfinches. These birds were captured by my Wingscapes Birdcam this past spring.

American Goldfinch, Bird, Bird feeder, Bird seed

Thanks for stopping in and taking  the tour with me. Good luck on your own birding adventures this year.

Again, Happy New Year!


Steve Creek said...

Great post Alan!

Janet, The Queen of Seaford said...

Great photos and posting Alan! Last year we had an American Redstart in our backyard, it was the first time I had ever seen one of them. I need to pay better attention to the woodpeckers we have here...I might be seeing the RCW --- we are some longleaf pine in the area.
I miss seeing Juncoes. Our suet feeders are on the deck and the seed feeders are at the edge of the woods. When it snowed last winter I saw some under the seed feeders.

Anne Higgins said...

Alan - I am enjoying following your blog... love the photo of the red shouldered hawk on the Christmas decoration!

I'm basically a backyard birder, but I live in a rural area in north-central Maryland with mixed habitat and good opportunities to see a variety of birds... and I've been vacationing at Cape May for twenty years - which is where I grew to love hawk watching.

Best wishes from Anne

Dawn Fine said...

Great birds! I love the little Brown-headed nuthatch!

cindyzlogic said...

Wonderful sightings and images!! Cool capture of the Red Shouldered Hawk on the outside Christmas decor...LOL! Juncos are one of my favorite Winter birds, as well!

eileeninmd said...

Great post and wonderful birds.

Scotkat said...

Great photos it was such a pleasure to see.

We are getting so many Robins ,Coal tits,blue tits and chaffinch to our garden but by time I go to get my camera I miss the chance .

Gene Vermillion said...

A really nice blog and great photos. Thanks for sharing.


Birdingva said...

I do enjoy your blog, Alan, and thanks for following mine (On the Wing). I work at the Chesapeake Central Library, and will be starting a new program in March where anyone can bring in wildlife photos they want to share and talk about; I'll be projecting them on our big screen. I'd love it if you were a part of it and helped to spread the word. Please let me know if you're interested! Thanks--

Lynn Hunt said...

Love your birds! Our juncos stay with us year-round in the North Carolina mountains.

abbott said...

Junco’s are not the most exciting of the songbirds, but they are one of favorite winter-time birds.Most of the people are very like it and enjoy it in this garden.