Coming and Going

Welcome back! Well, the third time is a charm, so they say. This is the third time I’ve started this post, and maybe it is fitting that I’m finally completing it as 2021 comes and 2020 goes.

A few months ago as the Fall migration was getting underway there were a number of Starlings in various stages of development hanging around the yard and feeders. As obnoxious as they are, the adults are also strikingly pretty. This seemed like a good idea for a post.

Not to mention that the name for a group of them as well as their behavior is a most interesting word: murmuration. Watching them murmerating?murmerationing? doing what they do, in the evening sky is, to this birder, fascinating. As for the obnoxious part: they are invasive, destructive bullies, yet watching the young ones trying to fly high enough to get to the feeders, being fed by a parent, then finally succeeding on their own, was delightful. You might say I have a love/hate relationship with them. Speaking of which, there is a short Audubon article about this from a few years ago which makes me feel a little better about that relationship. If you want to check it out, here is the link: https://www.audubon.org/news/birdist-rule-72-its-okay-dislike-some-birds Even more recently, there was a story in a blog from a poster to the MDBirding group about Starlings which I think sums things up pretty nicely and I think you will enjoy: https://birdpartner.com/2020/12/30/life-lesson/

Clearly, that post never got off the ground. Then my birding neighbor, Sheila, sent an email regarding a study that was being done on the comings and goings of Robins. Many years ago we looked for the first Robin in the Spring, but they are year-round inhabitants; maybe they always were and we just never noticed. Anyway, it was funny because when Sheila noted that she hadn’t seen Robins in awhile, I realized that I hadn’t been seeing them, either. Then a week or two later they were back in full force. Curious comings and goings. Read more about the program: https://nationalzoo.si.edu/migratory-birds/neighborhood-nestwatch

Although the focus of this blog is local birds, of which there are many, it is fun to venture farther afield for some new sightings or to see the local birds perhaps in larger numbers or somewhere other than on the feeders. Honestly, I spend a lot of time shooting through windows, which is not the best way to photograph birds, but a woman’s gotta do what a woman’s gotta do. The Fall hawk watch I had wanted to observe was cancelled, though, as were many other similar events.

As luck would have it, though, spending more time at home provided new opportunities. For years I have admired a Yellow-bellied Sapsucker that enjoys my next-door neighbor’s Hickory tree. Great views through binoculars, but always too far away for even my best lens. This year, though, it has come to my yard and enjoyed the feeder buffet, occasionally sharing with some smaller visitors (see the Photo Gallery page for more, or my Flickr site https://www.flickr.com/photos/lsmiller/).

I still dream of getting a shot of it on a tree, or better yet, flying. Coming and going.

If you happen to follow the MDBirding group, you might have noticed there have been some unusual sightings in the DMV recently. Without going back, I recall reading of a Burrowing Owl and another Snowy Owl, to name just the two that stand out in my memory. I have to think that there are probably some birds that come around our neck of the woods, or suburbs as the case may be, that I just don’t see. But if you happen to spot something interesting or unusual, please pass it on! That’s another great thing about birders, they are eager and willing to share their sightings.

As this year goes and the next one comes, all best wishes for a happy, healthy and bird-filled new year. Who knows what interesting birds might show up in our Crestbirds area?

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