Bird Lady Blog

August 17, 2017

Belted Kingfisher


Belted Kingfisher

I took the grandkids to Odell Lake/Lake Odell (I do get its name mixed up, but think it’s the former that is correct) for a quick exploration and to see what birds are around. The result?  Not many.  The Red-Winged Black Birds, Yellow-Headed Black Birds, and all the Swallows were gone.  We saw some Mallards, American Coots, Canada Geese, a Turkey Vulture, and heard American Crows and a White-Breasted Nuthatch.  However, the find of the day was a Belted Kingfisher.

The Belted Kingfisher seems to show up toward the end of summer, probably on its migration route, and we’ve seen it at the ponds of the Pinewood Country Club Golf Course during early fall. It is a fun bird to see and hear – definitely can be identified by its call, which has been described as a loud, penetrating rattle.  It often calls when in flight.

Like the Steller’s Jay, the Belted Kingfisher has a bushy crest, and it is a similarly-sized bird with a big head but much larger beak. It is a blue-gray with a white breast that is accentuated with rust flanks and a belly band.  Observing one up close or though a pair of binoculars gives you an opportunity to see what a striking bird it is.

The Belted Kingfished is found throughout the continental United States, so if you miss the one at Odell Lake, you might find it, like I do during the winter, at your Phoenix-area golf club or city park, assuming there is a pond or two. It consumes mainly fish and dives right into the water to capture an unsuspecting prey from a little below the surface.  It also takes mollusks, small reptiles, young birds, small mammals, and even berries.  Clear water is essential, and course it migrates south when ponds and lakes freeze over.  It often is perched on a dead or tall branch of a tree as a good look-out spot, its flight is slow and direct, and sometimes it can be seen hovering over the water as it waits for that perfect moment to capture its next meal.  Soon, however, it too will be headed further south in search of a more satisfactory food source.

Our Busy Nuthatches


Pygmy Nuthatch

One of my most favorite bird species in Munds Park is the Pygmy Nuthatch. I think I like them so much because they are so unafraid, and bold, and gregarious.  And they come in groups – never one at a time.  You hear them and then you see them, coming within a few feet of you to your sunflower seed feeder or birdbath.

Pygmy Nuthatches are considered small song birds, but what they sound like is a series of chirps, mostly on a single pitch – not melodious at all, but certainly getting your attention when a group of them arrives. They mostly flit from branch to branch looking for insects such as caterpillars, moths, and spiders, and for conifer seeds.  They readily will take sunflower seeds and chopped nuts from your feeders.

Pygmy Nuthatches are very communal, roosting together in the cavities of trees in cold weather and also providing nesting help to others of their species. We have Pygmy Nuthatches at our feeders daily, but I always wonder where their nests are and how they are raising their young.  The nest is most likely tucked away somewhere in a tree cavity or crevice 15 feet up and out of our sight.

The other nuthatch species we have here regularly is the White-Breasted Nuthatch. It is much larger than the Pygmy, relatively speaking, is solitary unless it has young around, and spends more time climbing up and down trees than the Pygmies.

The third species that comes through Munds Park is the Red-Breasted Nuthatch. I have seen it only during a couple of seasons, towards the beginning of fall, and it was mingling in with the Pygmy Nuthatches.  It has a distinct black eye stripe, and of course a red breast.  If any of you readers spot one, I sure would like to know.

Nuthatch predators include squirrels, owls, and woodpeckers. And according to Wikipedia, there are over 20 nuthatch species across the world, including in India, China, Thailand, Burma, Turkey, Russia, the Bahamas, Mexico, England, and Wales.

Finally, two sightings are worthwhile noting these past two weeks: a Zone-Tailed Hawk soaring above the front nine of Pinewood Country Club, and a single White-Faced Ibis at the pond off of Hole #10.  You gotta’ love golfing when you can catch an unusual bird or two at the same time!

 

A Real Turkey of a Life Bird


Wild Turkey

I think most of you who read these birding articles regularly know that a Life Bird is one that you see for the very first time. Most birders have at least one story and usually several about when and where they initially saw a certain species of bird – it is a pretty exciting moment for a birder.  The stories go like this:  “I saw my first Barred Owl at Horicon March in Wisconsin, my first Bald Eagle when golfing at the Victoria Golf Club in Canada, and my first Brown Creeper at my house on Thunderbird in Munds Park.”  Some birders, me included, keep a list of when and where they see birds – called a Life List.  You can keep a Year List, a Big Sit List, a County List – most birding doesn’t have a lot of “rules’ and you can be pretty creative on how you wish to record, if at all, your sightings.

Well, two weeks ago we took our newly-bought, second hand Yamaha Rhino out for a drive up Pinewood Boulevard and then along Forest Road 700 to have a burger at Mountainaire Tavern. We were hoping to find some Elk along the way.  However, the first wildlife sighting we found was a group of Wild Turkeys!  There were seven of them silhouetted in the forest light and they were pretty far off, but not far off enough to not identify them as turkeys without using binoculars.  The only other time I saw a Wild Turkey was on Maui – yes, strangely – and I really didn’t want to count that as a Life Bird, but in some ways I guess it was.  But it certainly was not native to Hawaii.

According to the Arizona Game and Fish Department, there are three types of Wild Turkeys in Arizona: 1) Merriam’s turkey found in the ponderosa pine forests, 2) Gould’s turkey found in the sky islands in Southern Arizona, and 3) Rio Grande turkey introduced again at the Arizona Strip at Black Rock Mountain, in Mohave County.  I most likely saw the Merriam’s turkey, and according to what I read, they were probably hens and young birds, because the toms do not mingle much with the hens except for breeding season.

The hens do not lay their eggs all at once, but when done they begin to incubate and then all the eggs hatch on the same day. The hens cover themselves up with leaves and when leaving the nest, brush the leaves on top of the eggs for camouflage.  Turkeys eat green vegetation, insects, juniper berries, acorns, and pine seeds.

The subspecies Merriam’s turkey was named after Clinton Hart Merriam, who at the early age of 16 was appointed a naturalist with the Hayden Expedition of 1871 and which later contributed to the formation of Yellowstone National Park. My, how times have changed in a little over 100 years!  What 16 year old youngster today is sent out to a new frontier to explore and document mammals and birds?  Those were quite the days for adventure if you were lucky and smart enough to seize the opportunity.  And if you were a male, which was the norm in those days.

Benjamin Franklin wanted the turkey to be the national bird. We know this from a letter he wrote to his daughter.  Benjamin Franklin thought the turkey was a bird of courage while the Eagle’s character was not so – he had seen it take away fish from Osprey and therefore considered it lazy, and he watched it being chased by other birds, so he thought it was cowardly.

By the way, we did see several Elk and a Deer on our trip, but I thought the Turkey sighting was the highlight of the trip, followed by the burgers and beers.

 

Wha ARE These People?


 

Townsend’s Warbler

Steller. Say.  Anna.  Grace.  Townsend.

Each of the names above is found in the names of one of the birds we find in Munds Park. Steller’s Jay.  Say’s Phoebe.  Anna’s Hummingbird.  Grace’s Warbler.  Townsend’s Warbler.

I personally prefer bird names that relate to what the bird looks like or area in which it resides – for example, White-Breasted Nuthatch or Western Bluebird. But some lucky people got to have a bird named after them, and there is a little history behind each one.

The Steller’s Jay is the only jay found in Munds Park. It is large and glossy blue and black, has a crested head, loves peanuts, is noisy at times, and will nest near our homes – at the top of a garage light fixture, for example.  It will rob other birds’ nests of both their eggs and young.  Its range is confined to the Western United States and it likes coniferous and mixed forests.  It was named after the naturalist who discovered the bird, George Wilhelm Steller, who is considered a pioneer of Alaska natural history.  He died at age 37, most likely of scurvy and fever, on an expedition, and several of the other animal species he identified are already extinct.

Our Say’s Phoebe, a medium-sized flycatcher, is found mostly on the Pinewood Country Club golf course. This bird is named after Thomas Say, an American naturalist who focused primarily on insects.  He explored the Mississippi River and Rocky Mountains.  He died at the age of 47 from typhoid fever.

Anna’s Hummingbird was named after an Italian duchess, Anna De Belle Massena. A naturalist named Rene Primevere Lesson named the bird after her in a time when “collecting” new species was all the rage.  Supposedly a specimen of the bird was given to Lesson by John James Audubon, and Lesson, a French naturalist, named it after the duchess.

I identified what I think was a Grace’s Warbler one afternoon in our front yard. I spent a good 10 minutes watching it flit in the highest parts of the Ponderosa Pines and ended up getting “warbler’s neck” after those 10 minutes.  Grace’s Warbler was named by Spencer Fullerton Baird, at the request of Dr. Elliot Coues, in honor of Dr. Coues’ sister Grace Darlington Coues.  Dr. Coues was a naturalist and discovered the bird in the Rocky Mountains in 1864.  His sister was 18 at the time.

A couple of years ago I identified a Townsend’s Warbler heading through Munds Park during migration. Its distinctive head pattern of a yellow face and dark cheek patch made it easier to identify than other warblers.  John Kirk Townsend was trained as a physician and pharmacist who also had a strong interest in nature and bird collecting.  Besides the warbler, he has the following named after him;  Townsend’s Vole, Townsend’s Mole, Townsend’s Chipmunk, Townsend’s Ground Squirrel, Townsend’s Pocket Gopher, Townsend’s Big-Eared Bat, and Townsend’s Solitaire (a bird which I found on a trip down Schnebly Hill on the way to Sedona).  Mr. Townsend died in 1851 of arsenic poisoning – he had developed a potion for taxidermy and the secret ingredient was arsenic, which he himself got too much of.

It’s pretty fascinating I think to learn how these birds were named. Also makes me grateful for modern day medicine – treating scurvy and typhoid fever and having warning labels on poisons like arsenic!

What Dead Bird Is This?


Lesser Goldfinch

That is a sad question: What Dead Bird Is This?  Hardly ever do you find a dead bird in the street, under a plant, or in the middle of a fairway or hiking trail – but you do find them under your windows.  That is because it is estimated by the Cornell Lab of Ornithology that 100 million birds (yes, 100,000,000) are killed each year by flying dead-on into a window pane.  That number does not even account for the ones that strike a window and fall to the ground stunned and are put into jeopardy.  Many of these are small song birds, like the female Lesser Goldfinch you see in the photo, which was sent to me by a fellow Munds Park resident after it hit her window.

Birds collide with windows because they “see” a landscape reflection of trees or clouds or sky and think it is an escape or fly-though route. And instead what happens is “bam!” — they hit the glass and either fall down stunned or break their necks and fall dead.

So what can you do to prevent these devastating window collisions? The Cornell Lab of Ornithology lists several suggestions on its website, and I will paraphrase here.

First, identify which windows might be the problem. If you stand outside and look inside, do you right see a reflection of our beautiful blue skies and Ponderosa Pines?  Well if that is what you see, so will the birds.  Take some of the following steps.

  1. Either move your bird feeders much closer to your window (one to two feet away), or more them much farther away.
  2. Break up the windows’ reflections with stickers, metallic ribbons, or another type of decoration of your choice, such as a mobile, that will deter the bird flying into your window in the first place.
  3. Consider some less-obvious options (most of these would not be acceptable to us because of their aesthetic effects): spray the window with fake snow or draw streaks on your window with bar soap, place light-weight netting across your window, install windows that tilt downward, or hang tree branches in front of the window.

OK, so probably none of the options listed in #3 are palatable to you (and me!), but I do hope you will consider options #1 and #2. I ordered bird strike window decals over the internet and they have worked quite well over the past few years.  Occasionally a bird hits one of our deck windows, but the windows are close enough to the feeders so that the bird only becomes stunned temporarily and flies off.

 

 

January 1, 2016

Bird Quiz


It’s been a while since we’ve done a birding quiz.  Let’s see how you do!  Answers to these questions are found somewhere else in the Pinewood News.

  1. What birds have a large nest on the top of a dead pine tree near Lake Odell? Turkey Vulture, Osprey, American Kestral, Common Raven.  Hint:  They catch and eat fish.
  2. Which Goldfinch species is common in Munds Park? American Goldfinch, Lesser Goldfinch, Lawrence’s Goldfinch, Coconino Goldfinch?
  3. When a group of Turkey Vultures are soaring in the sky, what do ornithologists call them? Cast, Committee, Meal, Vortex, or Wake.
  4. Which finch has not been sighted in Munds Park (at least to my knowledge?) Black Rosy-Finch, House Finch, Cassin’s Finch.
  5. When is the least favorable time to be bird watching? Morning, High Noon, Late Afternoon.
  6. Are Acorn Woodpeckers best described as being: Communal or Solitary?
  7. What blackbird is not common to Munds Park? Lone-Pine Blackbird, Red-Winged Blackbird, Yellow-Headed Blackbird?
  8. What bird is often thought to be a duck, but is not? Mallard, American Coot, Blue-winged Teal
  9. About how many times a minute does a hummingbird’s heart beat? 400, 600, 1200.
  10. What is one of the easiest and cheapest ways to attract birds to your property? Cracked corn, green ham and eggs, dripping water into a bird bath, rock music played over back-yard speakers.
  11. What are the primary colors of a male Western Tanager?  Gray and Black; Red and Black;  Red, Yellow, and Black; Brown and Blue
  12. Which grosbeak is found regularly in Munds Park? Black-Headed Grosbeak, Blue Grosbeak, or Steller’s Grosbeak?
  13. What would be a favorite food of a Pygmy Nuthatch? Unshelled peanuts; nyger seed; black-oil sunflower seeds.
  14. Where do Western Bluebirds nest? In a triangular configuration of branches in a Ponderosa Pine; On the ground near a source of water; In a cavity such as in a tree or nest box; Under the eaves above your deck.
  15. Which swallow species has a long forked tail? Purple Martin; Barn Swallow; Blue-Green Swallow; Tree Swallow.

Answers:

  1. Osprey
  2. Lesser Goldfinch
  3. All of the choices
  4. Black Rosy-Finch
  5. High Noon
  6. Communal
  7. Lone-Pine Blackbird (I made that name up)
  8. American Coot
  9. 1200
  10. Dripping water into a bird bath
  11. Red, Yellow, and Black
  12. Black-Headed Grosbeak
  13. Black-oil sunflower seeds
  14. In a cavity such as in a tree or nest box
  15. Barn Swallow

Brown-Headed Cowbirds


Brown-Headed Cowbird

Brown-Headed Cowbird

Several readers have told me that birds are building nests on their property, and some have sent photos.  Martha on Reindeer has two nest boxes that are supposed to be for Western Bluebirds but are now occupied by nesting House Wrens.  This particular House Wren in Martha’s photo is bringing in sticks wider than the width of the hole and somehow, either by luck or instinct, manages to get enough twigs fitted through the hole and into the nest box to build her nest.  Cindi and Kathy on Turkey Trail also reported they have nesting House Wrens in one of their next boxes.

Alan and Cheryl on Wildcat sent me a great photo of eye-catching blue American Robin eggs in a nest on their property.  At the time of this writing, the chicks hatched and are growing on a daily basis.  The next photo they sent me was of open baby bird mouths waiting for the proverbial worm, and the third photo showed how they were developing their feathers while still demanding food every time a parent approached the nest.  I think the nest is amazing – all the twigs tightly woven together to make a little cup perfectly fitted for the eggs.

I also heard from Lu and Don who live on Lake Odell, and they had a complaint – too many Brown-Headed Cowbirds dominating their bird feeder area.  Brown-Headed Cowbirds are one bird I haven’t written about before; they have not been high on my list.  They have a unique approach to nest building – they don’t build nests at all and instead lay their eggs in the nests of other birds.  They are considered a parasite because they lay an egg in another bird’s nest, usually a smaller bird like a warbler, sparrow, or vireo, and often they toss out one of the eggs already in the nest.  Brown-Headed Cowbirds hatch faster than the host bird’s eggs, and their chicks are larger, so they compete with the host bird’s babies and often cause them to starve to death.

In years past, Brown-Headed Cowbirds still had a balance in nature; much of the time they were found following herds of buffalo.  But then humans made changes to the landscape by cutting into forests with roads, introducing cattle, and causing deforestation, so the habitat for Brown-Headed Cowbirds changed and made it easier for them to find the nests of host birds, and therefore to multiply.  Cowbirds can lay 30-40 eggs within a breeding season, negatively affecting the nests of that many host birds.  The Brown-Headed Cowbird is considered one of the key reasons for songbird decline in North America.

What can we do to help stop this Brown-Headed Cowbird trend?  On a big picture, the best approach is landscape management – ensuring large tracts of land are available for other native birds and minimizing fragmented landscapes.  On an individual scale, you can use tube feeders with smaller perches and no catch basin at the bottom.  Don’t use tray feeders, and avoid sunflower seeds and cracked corn.  At our home in Munds Park at the edge of Munds Canyon, I have a tray feeder (frequented by Band-Tailed Pigeons) and a sunflower feeder, used by all types of birds, but never frequented by Brown-Headed Cowbirds because our home is in the woods, not in an open area.  At Lake Odell, however, the Brown-Headed Cowbirds stay in flocks with Red-Winged Blackbirds and Brewer’s Blackbirds, so they will be harder to control.  Sticking with a nyger seed feeder, suet feeder, and a peanut feeder is probably the best way to still attract birds and discourage Brown-Headed Cowbirds.  I also have read that Brown-Headed Cowbirds do not favor safflower seeds, which might be good to try as an alternative to sunflower seeds.

May 26, 2015

Nesting and Babies


Steller's Jay feeding on Junco chick courtesy of Gordon Karre

Steller’s Jay feeding on Junco chick courtesy of Gordon Karre

I’ve already received reports from Munds Park residents that birds are in high-reproductive mode.  Dan sent me photos of a pair of Steller’s Jays that nested on the light above his garage door.  As I write this article (shortly after snow in May and really cold temperatures), the mother bird is in the nest keeping the chicks warm while the male keeps bringing food to them.  I also heard from Les who had a Dark-Eyed Junco, actually the Gray-Headed Junco sub-species that we have here in Munds Park, trying to build a nest in his wife’s Mandevilla plants in pots on the deck.  The human activity around the first pot seemed a bit more than the bird could handle, so she moved to a planter farther away on the deck.  We’ll have to see if she actually lays eggs and they hatch.

This time of year is very stressful for birds.  Selecting a mate and a suitable nest site, finding the nesting material and hauling it over to the site, laying the eggs, sitting on them and still getting enough food to sustain a healthy female – it all takes a toll on the parents.  On top of that, there are predators who would love to snack on the eggs plus the chicks themselves.  These predators include other birds plus raccoons, skunks, and snakes.  I recently experienced this last threat in Scottsdale.  A Gamble’s Quail built a nest and laid 14 eggs in a pot with an asparagus fern at our front door.  We stopped using the front door and I posted a sign for anyone approaching the house – “Caution, Quails Nest!  Please do Not Disturb”.  One Sunday morning I peeked out the shutters and feathers were everywhere, as were egg shells and some left-over yolks.  It must have been a coyote that came right up to our front door in the middle of the night and made a dinner of our resident quail and her eggs.

So what can you do?  First and foremost, do not let your cats out of the house.  Keep them indoors – at all times.  It is estimated that there are 77 million cats in the USA, and only 35% of them are kept indoors.  Those that go outside kill adult birds, baby birds, and other wildlife.  Not because they are hungry – because owners spend billions of dollars on cat food – but because they can and they do.  It’s their nature.  So do us all a favor – keep your cats indoors.  And tell   your neighbors to keep their cats indoors.  (I suppose “explain nicely” is a better way to put it.)

Secondly, if you do have nest boxes (for Western Bluebirds, Tree Swallows, Mountain Chickadees, Brown Creepers, and White-Breasted Nuthatches) – make sure they conform to good nest box design and practices.  You can go online and start with birding hobby companies and order boxes with the right dimensions.  Or you can get designs that are easy to build, like the ones I use to make nest boxes with pine and a few battery-operated hand tools.  You should clean out nest boxes after every season.  Make sure they are secured and won’t crash down with our Munds Park winds in May and June.  Last fall we put up seven new Western Bluebird nest boxes on trees around the Pinewood Country Club – can’t wait to see if they will be occupied this year.  We also cleaned out the others – so all in all there are some good opportunities to provide safe nesting sites for our Western Bluebirds and Tree Swallows.

What I Learned in Africa About Munds Park Birding


African Fish-Eagle

African Fish-Eagle

This past January we took a three-week trip to southern Africa to golf and go on safaris.  I of course also planned to do some semi-serious birding.  Semi-serious in that I made no changes to our itinerary to see specific birds, but I did take with me a field guide of the most common 500 birds of southern Africa and my lightweight Leopold binoculars.  I learned several things on this trip.

  1. There are many families of birds in southern Africa (in our case Zambia, Botswana, and South Africa) that are similar to birds here in Munds Park and were easy for me to identify. For example, we have the Pied Grebe species here, seen regularly in Lake Odell or the Pinewood Country Club’s ponds.   The Little Grebe species of southern Africa is similar but even smaller.  We were golfing, and there it was in a pond near the 1st tee box.  It is so small that at first I thought it was a baby or juvenile.  Another example is the African Fish-Eagle.  It has a white head and dark body and you would think “Bald Eagle” when you first spot it.  We see an occasional Bald Eagle in Munds Park soaring in the sky or perched high in a tree limb. We also get Canada Geese in Munds Park, and in Africa they get the Egyptian Goose.  Both species are often considered pests at parks and golf courses because they are so common and so messy.  One of the smaller, similar birds I identified was a Barn Swallow – almost exactly like the ones we have in Munds Park.  And we have our Band-Tailed Pigeon, which is unique to the western United States.  In Botswana I saw the Speckled Pigeon and the African Green Pigeon species.
  2. Another thing I learned is that there are many families of birds in Munds Park that have no connection to any in southern Africa, at least in my non-scientific opinion. I didn’t see nuthatches (we have White-Breasted, Pygmy, and Red-Breasted), or hummingbirds (we have Anna’s and Rufous) or anything similar to our Munds Park’s Black-Headed Grosbeak or Western Bluebird.
  3. There were a lot of bird families I had to become familiar with, and I was helped greatly because we had very knowledgeable safari guides with us. Bee-eaters, Barbets, Bulbuls, Hornbills, and Weavers were just some of the new bird families I saw, and within those families there were different unique species.  The feather colors and sizes and shapes of their bills or head feathers always made for challenging and fun bird watching by all of us on the trip.
  4. Speaking of all of us on the trip, there were 12 of us, and everyone became a mini-birder during those three weeks. Everyone commented that seeing all the birds in between Lion or Hippo watching, for example, made the trip much more interesting.  All in all I was able to identify 125 new bird species – without trying very hard.
  5. The last thing I learned is to be prepared. I took one pair of binoculars – I should have taken at least a second pair.  I could have used stronger binoculars (such as a 10×50) for longer distances, plus others on the trip could have used my spare when I wasn’t.  Having the field guide in advance was a real advantage.  To translate that to Munds Park, I would suggest you have a field guide of US Western Birds, at minimum, handy in your house and invest in a decent pair of binoculars.  I have used Eagle Optics and Amazon when ordering online, and you can find a satisfactory pair for under $200.

July 26, 2014

“House” Birds

Filed under: Birding,Birdwatchers,House Wren,Munds Park Birding — Munds Park Birding @ 3:06 pm

House Wren Courtesy of Gordon Karre

House Wren Courtesy of Gordon Karre

There are three species of birds here in Munds Park with the word “House” in their name.  Can you guess what they are?  (At this point you should close your eyes and stop reading and think.)

 Let me start with my least favorite.  It is the non-native House Sparrow, previously called “English Sparrow”.  Fortunately we don’t see them much here in the forest because they prefer human habitat.  I have seen them most often around the commercial buildings, especially the gas stations, at the intersection of Pinewood Boulevard and I-17.  These European sparrows were introduced purposely into Central Park, New York City, in the mid-1800’s and then over and over again in other parts of the East because people thought the sparrows would eat insect pests.  Well, no, they eat just about anything, and worse yet, they nest in cavities such as nest boxes, so they take away both food sources and nesting sites of our native song birds.  By the time scientists, farmers, environmentalists, and regular citizens realized how badly these birds were upsetting the natural order, it was too late.  We now have about 150 million of these birds in the continental U.S. and all I can say is that I am glad they are not abundant in Munds Park.  They are not protected by the Federal Migratory Bird Act Treaty of 1918 because they are non-native, so you can eliminate them here or anywhere else in the U.S.  For a good article about how to TRY to control these birds, go the www.allaboutbirds.org and read “The Trouble with House Sparrows” article.   

There are two other “House” birds here that I always welcome.  House Wrens are nesting right up the street from me in a reader’s nest box.  The owner told me by e-mail that she just recently heard chirps coming from inside the box as the parents fly back and forth keeping the babies fed.  For such a tiny bird, the House Wren has a loud and insistent warble, and you will often hear it before seeing it.  It is a small, brown, and non-descript bird found around the country in backyards, parks, and open woods.  It loves to build its nest in man-made boxes as well as any other handy spots such as holes in fence posts, boots, old cardboard boxes, abandoned flower pots, and so on.   A couple of facts I’ve learned about House Wrens is that they only weigh as much as two quarters.  But they can wage a fierce battle for a nesting site, harassing much larger competitors, and they are known to drag out eggs or hatchlings from sites they want. 

The last “House” is the House Finch.  Again, I don’t see them too often here in Munds Park, but they are abundant in the Phoenix area.  Where I have seen or heard them is around the back nine of the golf course at Pinewood Country Club.  They tend to like suburbia more than camping in the forest, so you will find them in areas with “yards” versus areas of lots of pine and oak, and they do not use nest boxes.  They are brown-streaked, and the head, throat, and rump of the males are typically pink-red.  They are larger than the Pine Siskins you have at your feeders.  I really enjoy the House Finches’ warbling in the spring, unlike the House Sparrow,  which just has one repeated “cheep” that after awhile becomes annoying, at least in my opinion.

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