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  • Farmer Brett

Our winged neighbors

Updated: Jan 16, 2021

One of my pastimes this year has been learning about the birds that live here. Working from home, I sit at the dining room table and can look out the windows to the driveway. Shaun bought a bird feeder and put it in my line of sight so the birds spend more time where I can see them. Birds also visit the fountain in the backyard, coming very close to us when we are on the back porch.

The most common birds in virtually all terrestrial environments are of the order Passiform. Colloquially known as passerines, many of these birds are vaguely familiar even for those of us who aren’t birders.

Several passerines regularly visit the bird feeder and the fountain: black-headed grosbeaks, American goldfinches, violet-green swallows, barn swallows, Steller’s jays, pine siskins, white crowned sparrows, black-capped chickadees, American robins, and, of course, crows. I have not paid enough attention to see if the crows are American crows or Northwestern crows. There might be both. A few times I think I’ve identified a common raven, but am not confident enough to say so definitively.

And we've had some babies!

We’re also delighted to host a pair of calliope hummingbirds . Our yard at Beacon Hill was the proudly defended territory of a male Anna's hummingbird. We didn’t see the Beacon Hill hummingbird at the fountain, but the hummingbirds here visit it regularly.

We think we’ve seen a pair of lazuli buntings, but haven’t done a definitive identification of them either.

The mourning doves stay away from people and don’t seem interested in the bird feeder or the fountain when I am looking.

On a still day, weeding in the back field, you can hear the sound of a crow’s wings as it flies

overhead. We see turkey vultures regularly making slow, lazy circles above the turkey enclosure. One day in the spring, before the turkeys were outside, seven of them flew together and alit on the fence of what would become the turkey enclosure. We watched them, but they flew away before we could get too close.

It is not uncommon to see a covey of California quail dash across your path as you come up the drive or hear them flushing from nearby brush as one of us approaches. It’s nice to see them.

Sometimes in the evenings I’m lucky enough to be able to spot hawks and eagles circling out from the DNR land. When a flock of Canada geese flew over a couple of weeks ago, they had a lot to say to our domestic geese, who had a lot to say back. It was a pretty funny conversation to hear.

It’s been fun to try and spot some of the birds we’re sharing the farm with.

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