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Life at Boomer Lake with Deb, Monday January 6, 2014
Ross's Goose vs. Snow Goose
Do you know how to tell the difference between the Ross’s Goose and the Snow Goose? No? Our Tulsa World, here in Tulsa, OK, explains that very basically here
- Bird Watch: Ross's goose - Tulsa World: Outdoors: Bird Watch
Lurking within large flocks of snow geese may be another white goose species that will only be noticed by careful observers.
Birding More Popular than Golf!
In Ashland, OR, the Christmas Bird Count was very popular. As a matter of fact, birding is more popular in that area than golf, of all things. Birding provides recreation, as well as some good exercise. Why not get in on this popular sport? Sport, you say? Better believe it!
Winter Birding Festival in Wilcox, AZ
If you’re going to be in Willcox, AZ between January 15-19, you might be interested in AZ’s only winter birding festival. There will be some fabulous day long tours, including photographic opportunities. Get your reservations in NOW, as some of these tours are already full.
- Birds and birders to flock to Willcox - Arizona Range News: News
It’s that time of year again … the Wings Over Willcox Birding and Nature Festival (WOW) is only a month away. The 21st annual event – Arizona’s only winter birding festival – begins on Wednesday, Jan. 15, and continues through Sunday, Jan. 19. Ticket
2013 Big Year Champion
Remember The Big Year, that 2011 movie? According to USA Today, there are some serious competitions for birders as far as who can see the most birds in one year, or even in a lifetime. Don’t let this fool you, as it is a huge honor. The current Big Year champion is Sandy Komito for 2013, who also was the reigning champ in 2011. Could it be you, next year? Even the youngsters are getting in on the bandwagon, so you’re going to have to work hard. For more, see the article at
- Birding makes big tracks in 2013 and bags young fans
In the birding world, 2013 was a very big year. Just in the past week.
Get Your Own!
Not only is this an irruptive year, but for pity’s sake, the weather can’t make up it’s mind. On Saturday, it was in the 50’s, and now we are looking at the teens with wind chills in the negative numbers. This is dangerous weather for animals, as much as it is for us. Keep your feeders stocked when there is snow on the ground, and provide a source of water for our avian friends. They will say thank you in the most important ways—they will be there for you to see and enjoy.
The Dark-eyed Juncos have been around this week. These fast little dark and white sparrows are also called ice birds. They generally feed on weed seeds, and have numerous subspecies, liked gray-headed, pink-sided, white-winged, slate-colored, and the Oregon.
The Eastern Bluebird was also spotted, and these little beauties prefer open country, namely roadsides, farms, and scattered trees. Many of them have also retired to the Northern Reaches for the quiet and solitude that the area has to offer. It is also more sheltered from the weather, with plenty of good food to be had.
The Downy Woodpecker, two thirds of the size of the Hairy Woodpecker, prefers the same areas, especially deciduous trees. They can be attracted with suet cakes, and enjoy bugs. They often travel along a tree trunk upside down, like many other woodpeckers or nuthatches.
This is another wonderful little bird that is very similar to the Black-capped Chickadee that I knew up north. From twenty years experience, there are only a few difference between the two. The carolina has a faster call that is slightly higher pitched, has less white on the edges of the wing coverts, and has more white on the side of the head and neck. Both varieties love being around feeders!
The American Goldfinch is also on the move, enjoying thistle(nyger or niger) and favors black oil sunflower seeds. If you have any of these seeds at home, they will frequent your yard.
Ross's Goose with Cackling Geese
I observed a flock of close to one hundred twenty-five Cackling Geese with a lone Ross’s Goose yesterday. As well as what the Tulsa World Article has to say, there are other ways to tell this snow-white bird from the Snow Goose. Not only is the Snow Goose Larger, it has a longer neck, a black outline around the mouth, and does not have such a stubby bill. The Ross’s Goose also has a bluish, warty border between the base of the bill and the feathers, but that can be more difficult to see.
These Cackling Geese were in the area at roughly 2:30 in the afternoon, and I would suspect that they came in directly from the north, where food is now lacking. They were very tired, hungry and skittish. The first time that I tried to photograph, they flew off for a short time, and upon their return, I crawled with my camera to a sheltered area in order to obtain this photo for you. I believe that they will be on their way again soon enough until the weather breaks. All waterways that were not moving this morning were frozen solid.
I have seen Great Blue Heron, a couple of Belted Kingfishers, plenty of Mallards and Canvasbacks over the week, and the Buffleheads. The Bald Eagle Pair is still visiting the Northern Reaches, and will be less likely to wait for the ice to melt before hunger calls. However, that is the voice of nature, and we all must eat.
Goodbye for the time being, and keep your eyes to the ground and your head in the clouds. Happy birding until next week. Keep your cameras and binoculars handy to record any unusual sightings. The Snowy Owl has made it all the way to Florida, so chances are quite good that you might be able to obtain photos of this majestic owl in the Deep South. Stay safe in the cold weather, and dress appropriately.
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© 2014 Deb Hirt