Bird Lady Blog

October 8, 2009

American Robin, Lesser Goldfinch, Western Bluebird, and Mountain Chickadee

Filed under: Munds Park Birding,Robin Goldfinch Bluebird Chickadee — Munds Park Birding @ 3:01 am

Western BluebirdHow we all love nature and being here in Munds Park to experience the smells, sounds, and colors that are so different from the other places we live in or visit.  Part of the attraction to the outdoors for many of us is the bird life.  I have been a birder (aka birdwatcher) since I was in 5th grade, and no matter whom I speak with or where I am, people can always relate to or share a story about our feathered friends.   If you are like many us, you, too, are intrigued with the behaviors of birds and their “companionship” as they visit our backyards, feeders, and bird baths. 

Here in Munds Park we have many species of birds that are not found in the desert or big cities of Arizona.  In this first article I am going to write about four of the most common ones – those you typically see from your deck or when out walking or hear in the morning or early evening.

The American Robin, which is so common in the Midwest or East where many of us have come from, is a welcome sight for those of us who sometimes get homesick for the distinct four seasons and the suburbs with their wet and grassy lawns.  Everyone knows that spring is on its way when the Robins arrive.  With its erect posture, red breast, and size, the American Robin is often described as “stately”.  Its beautiful cheery, warbling song, especially around twilight time, reminds us that life is good, but also that each beautiful day comes to an end with dusk.  Robins’ diets include beetle grubs, and you’ll see them searching for these and worms and insects on the golf course fairway.   A little known fact about the American Robin is that it is found in 49 of our 50 states, including Alaska, but not Hawaii.

Lesser Goldfinches are those “little birds with a lot of yellow” that come to your Niger or thistle seed feeders.  The males have a distinct black cap, greenish-black backs, and yellow breasts.  The females and immatures are duller, with greenish upper parts and less pronounced yellow under parts, and with white wing bars.  A relative of the American Goldfinch, a common bird east of the Mississippi, Lesser Goldfinches are fun to watch as they hop back and forth sharing the pegs on your seed feeder or hanging on to your thistle sock feeder.   A little know fact about Lesser Goldfinches is that they are one of the few birds in the U.S. that are vegetarians.  They feed only on seeds and very seldom take small insects – only by accident it seems.  For those of us who live the in the Valley of the Sun, putting out a thistle seed feeder during the winter will attract Lesser Goldfinches as they migrate South to escape the cold weather up North.  Who knows, they may even be the same birds that are your summer neighbors in Munds Park.

If in Munds Park you live a bit away from the forest and pines and instead have a home with a small open area or grassy yard nearby, you could be lucky enough to attract the beautiful Western Bluebird.  With their blue backs and rusty breasts, Western Bluebirds can be seen in hot pursuit of insects, but they will also frequent your bird feeder if you offer them mealworms.  Bluebirds are cavity nesters and will use a nest box if built to the right dimensions, which includes an entry hole that is 1 and ½ inches in diameter.  If you are a golfer, the nest boxes you see on Pinewood Country Club are for Bluebirds.   

 The fourth and last bird I’ll discuss here is the Mountain Chickadee, a bird of the trees that is a little larger than the Lesser Goldfinch and much smaller than an American Robin.  Mountain Chickadees are black/white/gray, and you can see them clinging upside down in the trees and searching through the pinecones and bark for insects.  The Mountain Chickadee is easily identified by its song, which is a “Chic-a-dee-dee” call.  When Mountain Chickadees come to my seed feeder, they will stay up to a half of a minute, but during that time, they rapidly peck at the seeds, throwing the millet into the tray and off to the ground, which delights the doves feeding on the ground below, and looking for a sunflower seed.  The Chickadees prefer sunflower seeds, so I’m rethinking my bird food buying strategy and next time will get sunflowers seeds only.  These birds, like the Western Bluebird, are cavity nesters and will use the right nest box, one with a hole that is one and one-eighth inches across.  They can breed up to two times per year, so if you have a nest box, you might see them active in it later in the summer when you would think the time for hatching baby birds should have already passed.  I had a family of Chickadees in one of my nest boxes last year, and it was a delightful surprise to see it used mid-summer.

In the next article I will present a few more birds that you should be able to easily see in Munds Park.  If you have any questions or stories you would like to share about Munds Park birds, feel free to send them to me at margaretdyekman@cox.net, and I’ll try to include them in a final article before fall migration.

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1 Comment »

  1. Hi, this is a comment.
    To delete a comment, just log in, and view the posts’ comments, there you will have the option to edit or delete them.

    Comment by Mr WordPress — October 8, 2009 @ 3:01 am | Reply


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