The mating ritual was in full display yesterday; a male attracts a female to look at a house (house hunting). She is moderately impressed; but makes him continue the courting ritual for about 2 hours. She still does not accept the box and, so in a final attempt to get her attention, he starts to gather grass for the nest in hopes that she will follow – she does not - yet !! He tries wing – wags, one and both, flies circles around the house, goes in to show her it is safe, comes out, makes several more short flights (never more than 10 feet from the house); finally, she approaches the house, checks the view, and leaves, flies back twice, once while he is in the box, sets on top, he looks for approval, she seem impressed but is not ready and leaves to land on a nearly post and watch while he attempts to pick up and take grass to the house. She watches. In the end nothing is decided.
* All photos taken handled (no tripod) by a Canon 50D with a Canon 400 f/5.6 lens at ISO 500 and TV=1/2,000 sec.
Posted in Wild Birds | Tagged 2014, Eastern Bluebird. courtship, house hunting, march, mating, ritual | Leave a Comment »
Well — after two weeks of little interest in breeding, the breeding season is back as of this morning. The Bluebirds are more aggressive NOW but so are the House Sparrows; Photos from this morning follow, taken with a Canon 50D and a Canon 400mm Lens, handheld. There are quite a few photos:
Here come the Pesky House Sparrows – they can and will kill Bluebirds
Posted in Wild Birds | Tagged Arkansas, Bluebirds mating, Boston Mountains, breeding, Eastern Bluebird, parthenon, ritual | Leave a Comment »
Just a photo; caught him (it’s a male) flying from a ring of sap holes in a Hickory tree. Taken with a Canon 7D with a Canon EF 300 f/2.8 IS at 75 feet; just off Murray Road near Parthenon, Arkansas. They are beautiful birds ! They drink sap from a ring of hole they dig around a tree (look at the tree to the left).
Posted in Wild Birds | Tagged ar, Arkansas, Boston Mountains, County, Hickory tree, Newton, parthenon, yellow bellied sapsucker | Leave a Comment »
About 10 days ago we hit 65F and then 70F. The next day 63; then cold, then snow, and ice, then a slow warm up. Today the bluebirds seem lethargic and disinterested in the nests they started 10 days ago. Now, the English House Sparrows have occupied all the houses despite my attempts to trap and relocate them this February. I actually caught and removed 17 House Sparrows. They are always replaced (I guess) by similar numbers of House Sparrows. SO, the fight is on !! I have to spend time each day to ID and remove sparrow nests (they can build a full nest in one day), and ID and leave bluebird nests in each house. House sparrows are not sparrows at all; they are English Weaver Finches.
A few words about House Sparrows from Cornell Labs
Size & Shape
House Sparrows aren’t related to other North American sparrows, and they’re differently shaped. House Sparrows are chunkier, fuller in the chest, with a larger, rounded head, shorter tail, and stouter bill than most American sparrows.
Male House Sparrows are brightly colored birds with gray heads, white cheeks, a black bib, and rufous neck – although in cities you may see some that are dull and grubby. Females are a plain buffy-brown overall with dingy gray-brown underparts. Their backs are noticeably striped with buff, black, and brown.
House Sparrows are noisy sparrows that flutter down from eaves and fencerows to hop and peck at crumbs or birdseed. Look for them flying in and out of nest holes hidden behind shop signs or in traffic lights, or hanging around parking lots waiting for crumbs and picking insects off car grills.
House Sparrows have lived around humans for centuries. Look for them on city streets, taking handouts in parks and zoos, or cheeping from a perch on your roof or trees in your yard. House Sparrows are absent from undisturbed forests and grasslands, but they’re common in countryside around farmsteads.
House Sparrows hop rather than walk on the ground. They are social, feeding in crowded flocks and squabbling over crumbs or seeds on the ground. House Sparrows are a common sight at bird feeders; you may also see them bathing in street-side puddles or dustbathing on open ground, ruffling their feathers and flicking water or dust over themselves with similar motions. From living in such close company, House Sparrows have developed many ways of indicating dominance and submission. Nervous birds flick their tails. Aggravated birds crouch with the body horizontal, shove their head forward and partially spread and roll forward their wings, and hold the tail erect. This can intensify to a display with wings lifted, crown and throat feathers standing on end, tail fanned, and beak open. Males with larger amounts of black on the throat tend to dominate over males with less black. When males display to a prospective mate, they fluff up their chest, hold their wings partially open, fan the tail, and hop stiffly in front of the female, turning sideways and sometimes bowing up and down. Sometimes, other males who spot such a display in progress will fly in and begin displaying as well. In flocks, males tend to dominate over females in fall and winter, but females assert themselves in spring and summer.
House Sparrow populations declined by over 3.5 percent between 1966 and 2010, resulting in a cumulative decline of 81 percent, according to the North American Breeding Bird Survey. Partners in Flight estimates their global breeding population at 540 million with 13 percent in the U.S., 2 percent in Canada and 2 percent in Mexico. They rate an 8 out of 20 on the Continental Concern Scale and are not on the 2012 Watch List. Nest holes in trees and nest boxes are valuable commodities for birds that require them for breeding. House Sparrows are fierce competitors for these, and their abundance can squeeze out some native cavity-nesting species. After becoming common in North American cities, House Sparrows moved out to colonize farmyards and barns during the twentieth century. With the recent industrialization of farms, House Sparrows now seem to be declining across most of their range. They will kill our native cavity nesters (i.e.. Bluebirds, Purple Martins, etc.), in competition for their nesting space.
Posted in Weather, Wild Birds | Tagged Arkansas, bluebirds, Boston Mountains, house sparrows, threat to our native cavity nesting birds | Leave a Comment »
Looking up the Buffalo River Valley on New Years Eve, I could see the remnants of the heavy morning fog, stuck to all the trees as ice:
Posted in Mountain Scenery, mountains, The River | Tagged 2013, 31, Buffalo River, december, Frozen fog, near Ponca, valley | Leave a Comment »
We got about and inch of ice and sleet and about 2-3 inches of snow last night and Sunday and it was 6F this morning. Maybe more in higher elevations. I loved the thunder all afternoon Sunday.
Another look back to late December 2013 on a near 60 degree day:
The following are from Ozark Campground gravel bar across from the Bluff:
Posted in Mountain Scenery, The River, Weather | Tagged 2013, Arkansas, County, December 29, Klemmer Hole, newt, Ozark Campground Bluff, Roark Bluff | Leave a Comment »
Back at Steel Creek on December 28th (about a week after the flood in the previous post), I was taking photos again. The Buffalo River was down quite a bit and the snow melted. These are photos of the Klemmer hole and the Sections of river below Roark Bluff towards the canoe put-in point just above the confluence of Steel Creek. The Buffalo River’s water became that beautiful turquoise color that no other river can copy; about 6″ of Air at the Ponca Bridge; BEAUTIFUL !!!
Posted in mountains, The River, Weather | Tagged ar, Arkansas, Buffalo River, Newton County, ponca, Roark Bluff, Steel Creek, turquoise color | Leave a Comment »