In early March, two ruffed grouse on a Sunday morning up in the trees during a snow squall. Same day a flock of 30–40 wild turkeys shuffling down the woods road. Brown creeper, red-winged blackbird, blue jay, dark-eyed junco, northern cardinal, black-capped chickadee, common raven, American crow, red-bellied woodpecker, downy woodpecker, tufted titmouse.
Veery, Tennessee warbler, American redstart, common yellowthroat.
Black-capped chickadee, white-breasted nuthatch, brown creeper, golden-crowned kinglet, dark-eyed junco, blue jay, American robin, eastern phoebe, American goldfinch, chipping sparrow, song sparrow, white-throated sparrow, American crow, common raven, yellow-bellied sapsucker, red-bellied woodpecker, downy woodpecker, northern flicker, common yellowthroat, ovenbird, purple finch, pine siskin, northern cardinal, tufted titmouse, Carolina wren, northern waterthrush, hermit thrush, chestnut-sided warbler, black-and-white warbler, ruffed grouse, wood duck, belted kingfisher.
A spring round-up: ruffed grouse, common raven, American crow, song sparrow, brown creeper, red-winged blackbird, eastern phoebe, black-capped chickadee, white-breasted nuthatch, tufted titmouse, red-bellied woodpecker, bald eagle, red-tailed hawk, chestnut-sided warbler, golden-crowned kinglet, downy woodpecker, hairy woodpecker, red-winged blackbird, blue jay, northern cardinal.
Also, spotted a pair of ducks/waterbirds last night while driving home, in an ephemeral pond/flooded patch of a neighbor's yard. Didn't look like mallards so I turned around and parked to get a closer look, but I flushed them out and didn't get a good look.
A couple of weeks ago, while my parents were visiting, we were sitting around the kitchen table for lunch when I saw a flash of a large wingspan outside the window, extremely close to the house. It was a barred owl, and he/she perched on a lilac branch for a solid 15-20 minutes before moving to another perch even closer to the house, and then another. After a while, the owl flew around to the other side of the house and sat in a young black cherry tree outside of our little cabin. When my dad and I went out to get something from his truck, the owl flew off deeper into the woods, but a half hour later was back in the lilacs.
Earlier than this, my 3 1/2 year old daughter spotted a bald eagle from about 50 yards as we were eating breakfast, as it flew into the enormous cottonwood tree along our brook.
Not a bird, but a few days ago I also saw, very briefly, a bobcat that I spooked when coming out of the house as it was snowing. I saw a blur of tawny fur, and I knew it wasn't a deer or a dog. It moved differently, and quickly, up the hill in the newly fallen deep powder.
Heard a barred owl hooting just outside our living room window the night before last, so close it could have been perched on the bit of iron where we hang our hummingbird feeder in the summer. Also saw the tracks of turkeys in the snow of our driveway a few days ago. No redpolls or siskins this winter so far. Don't know if it's cold enough for them to come down from the north if they have plenty to eat already. Days getting slightly longer...
Lately: wild turkeys everywhere. Britt heard them roosting up in the trees, flapping around. Barred owl a few weeks ago. Golden-crowned kinglets, black-capped chickadees, tufted titmice, house wrens, American crows, white-breasted nuthatches, dark-eyed juncos, downy woodpeckers. Last fall there was a white pelican hanging out at a pond a couple miles away for at least a week. Hard to believe we're only two and a half months from phoebes and red-winged blackbirds returning.
The ruffed grouse came eventually, as did pine siskins. The big news this spring is that by keeping our feeder stocked with sunflower seeds, we've attracted rose-breasted grosbeaks and indigo buntings, the latter of which have also been enjoying hanging around the crabapple trees. For the past four days we've seen and heard both, along with black-and-white warblers, black-throated green warblers, ovenbirds, common yellowthroats, American redstarts, veerys, and more.
This winter so far: black-capped chickadee, blue jay, red-bellied woodpecker, hairy woodpecker, downy woodpecker, golden-crowned kinglet, bald eagle, tufted titmouse, dark-eyes junco, white-throated sparrow, white-breasted nuthatch, wild turkey, house finch, American crow, American goldfinch, red-tailed hawk, common raven, Carolina wren, northern cardinal, pileated woodpecker.
No ruffed grouse, which makes me wonder if the cold temperatures and deep snows of last winter were what drove them to our property. Maybe all of our aspens provided emergency food. Or perhaps they don't return to the same locations every winter.
Newly seen/heard: Savannah sparrow, bobolink, warbling vireo, bald eagle, broad-winged hawk. Lots of redstarts and common yellowthroats just up the road, possibly a Baltimore oriole though I didn't see it. Heard something singing above the driveway this morning that I couldn't identify and wish I had time to spot before heading to work.
Home: Wood thrush, eastern wood-pewee, confirmed Baltimore oriole. Veery singing a lot, yellowthroats more active in the brush.
Newly arrived/heard/seen: Common yellowthroat, red-eyed vireo, veery, Baltimore oriole, American redstart. My wife has seen yellow warblers in the neighborhood, and more redstarts and orioles, which I have only heard. Last night I heard the veery's "vurrr" a few times from a thicket when I went out to get something from my car. As I type, a male cardinal is at the feeder, eating sunflower seeds. Received an old bird guide from my grandmother over the weekend, from 1956. Interesting to see that both the cardinal and titmouse ranges do not extend into New England in that book, whereas now they are some of our most common feeder birds.
"And the sky opens up like candy / And the wind don't know my name / And the warmth comes back even though you thought it would not." --Lambchop
Our neighbor up the road reports bobolinks in his hayfield and invites us to walk in it whenever. I'm sitting in front of our open door, hearing the black-throated green warbler, chestnut-sided warbler, chickadees, ovenbird, and our three-legged cat, Potato, crying to be let outside. There's no real worry of him killing any songbirds, though. Plus, we keep him on a leash. He reminds me that the gray catbird is back.
There are probably other birds passing through or here to breed whose songs are subtle that I can't recognize. At a local plant nursery I saw a rose-breasted grosbeak, and every time I hear a robin sing at our house I scan the trees and listen harder, thinking I might be mistaking a grosbeak or even a scarlet tanager.
Supremely active right around are yard, besides the chickadees et al, are the phoebe and Carolina wren. But if I had to pick a single species to name the little hollow where we live, it'd be the ruffed grouse. We have as many as three by my count, and one always seems to be scratching through the leaf litter just beyond the yard's edge.
New arrivals: chestnut-sided warbler, chipping sparrow, ovenbird, broad-winged hawk, brown creeper, northern flicker. Up the road but not at our place: yellow-bellied sapsucker, brown-headed cowbird.
Coltsfoot is growing along the road.
Newly arrived/heard/seen: black-and-white warblers (May 2), black-throated green warblers (May 3), belted kingfisher, song sparrow. The ever-present ruffed grouse are still hanging around.
Spring wildflowers: our hillside is a carpet of bloodroot, wake robin (maroon trillium), and soon to be trout lilies, plus a few others I haven't yet worked out with my Newcomb's guide.
Yesterday saw a male ruffed grouse strutting across the gravel driveway, with his ruff puffed out. We've seen several grouse over the course of the winter. One morning three were standing up in the tree limbs outside of our bedroom window. Learned that ruffed grouse enjoy eating quaking aspen seeds, as well as birch seeds, and we have plenty of paper birch and quaking aspen.
In the afternoon, arriving home from work, I flushed a grouse--possibly the same one--from the woods in the backyard, and also noticed two hermit thrushes in the brush and bramble next to the driveway.
Two ravens flew over the house this week. Heard the croak and noticed the more diamond-ended tail, as opposed to the fan-sweep of the crow. One of the ruffed grouse that like to frequent our house was spotted hanging out near the bulkhead. Also heard: the first red-winged blackbird of the year, a pileated woodpecker, the sleigh-bell jingle of a dark-eyed junco, and possibly the similar trill of the pine warbler.
Seen at house: October 14 - March 15.
Black-capped chickadee, white-breasted nuthatch, wild turkey, American crow, American goldfinch, pileated woodpecker, downy woodpecker, hairy woodpecker, red-bellied woodpecker, dark-eyed junco, white-throated sparrow, ruffed grouse, purple finch, common redpoll, pine siskin, blue jay, tufted titmouse, northern cardinal, cedar waxwing, red-tailed hawk.