Project Feederwatch Update – First March Weekend

by Lee Farnham

The weekend didn’t start out to be as spectacular as it ended up, but I had vowed to watch at least an hour on Saturday morning, which meant that I had logged 12 species by the time I ended.  There is a core of birds that always appear:  Downy, Hairy and Red-Bellied Woodpeckers, Goldfinches and Juncos, White-Breasted Nuthatch, Cardinals, White-Throated Sparrows, Mourning Doves, Carolina Wren, Carolina Chickadee and Titmouse.  Later in the day a Starling showed up, and then a Pileated Woodpecker (!!), what a treat to see him banging away on the suet.

By Vkulikov (Own work) [CC BY-SA 3.0 (http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-sa/3.0)%5D, via Wikimedia Commons

The following afternoon was when a Grackle invasion occurred, for the second time this  year!  A few scouts were seen, and noted, but Then a swarm of Common Grackles was upon us, on the Sunflower feeder, and the Safflower, a few on the Suet and many more in the trees, And they were very loud….and then they were gone!!  From trees overloaded with Grackles, nothing, but then they were back, more determined than ever, and I eventually counted more than 50.  While looking at the various groups in the trees I noticed that a few weren’t acting like Grackles, so I returned to them after making my count and found a lone Red-Winged Blackbird (first this season), and four Brown-headed Cowbirds (ditto).  The males have a darkish brown head with a black body, all somewhat shiny, and are unmistakable.

The females with them were probably looking for nests to put their eggs in, for they are notorious for laying their eggs in the nests of others.

The Grackles came and went three or four times, and in between two Blue Jays had some Sunflower and a pair of House Finches sampled the Safflower….and the Pileated Woodpecker had some more suet.  What a great weekend!!

The final total for the weekend was 19 species and 169 total birds. See Observation tallies to date.

Note:  Lee Farnham is an avid birder and a long-time participant in Cornell’s Lab of Ornithology Feeder Watch program in which more than 16,000 citizen scientists from all states and Provinces of Canada report weekly feeder activity from early November to early April.

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