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 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]
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.
Another 2011 favorite bird was the Northern gannet. This one is a juvenile. Northern Gannets spend most of their life at sea.
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.
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.
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!
Here’s a red-shouldered hawk sitting on my Christmas décor in my front yard. At least someone likes my decorations.
Thanks for stopping in and taking the tour with me. Good luck on your own birding adventures this year.
Again, Happy New Year!