Thursday, January 20, 2011

BIRDS IN A BUSH…AND A TREE


Earlier today, as Myladylove and I enjoyed breakfast, she suddenly sat her teacup down and pointed toward the fence bordering the side yard. "Look at all the redbirds in those bushes!" 

The high wooden fence marking the downstream boundary of the property, about 150 feet from cottage, is partially obscured various evergreens, saplings, and a few more mature trees—a nice brushy tangle which furnishes secret nest sites for thrashers, wrens, and cardinals during the summer, shelter for all species during winter's storms, and a fine escape hatch for feeder birds whenever the Cooper's hawk swings by looking for lunch. On the branches of several of the smaller trees, and the tips of the evergreen, I saw numerous splotches of red, like scarlet rubies scattered against the falling snow. 

Twenty, twenty-five male cardinals? Maybe—and maybe twice that number when you added in females. "I'm getting my camera," I said and headed for the hallway, knowing full well there might not be a single redbird there when I returned, though the round trip to my desk and back to the windowside table would take only a handful of seconds. Still, if you're going to call yourself a photographer, you have to try.

As I feared, a number of the cardinals moved elsewhere during my circular dash. But several stayed put…and the photo I've posted was the first frame I snapped the instant I got back to the table. You'll have to take my word that there were at least twice the number of redbirds in the same small area initially. 

You can also take my word that the above pix contains seventeen birds—ten cardinals, three titmice, two chickadees, one tree sparrow, and one starling. Or you can double-click to enlarge and count for yourself. (Here's the only hint you get—there's only one bird in the evergreen, the rest of those blobs are leaves.}
———————

12 comments:

Linda said...

I looked and looked but could count only twelve birds in the photo. (But I'm not doubting you.) It must have been an amazing sight to see so many cardinals all basically in one spot. I think you're pretty blessed with your spot on the river.

The Weaver of Grass said...

Why do cardinals come into your garden like that Grizz, I wonder - so many at once and yet when I toured the US a couple of years ago I searched and searched for them and finally saw a lone one in - I think - Alberquerque - but I did see and hear thousands of birds in the trees at dusk outside our hotel in San Antonio - would they have been called something like grackles?

Grizz………… said...

Linda…

Nope, seventeen—honest. A couple are tough to see until they're pointed out, but they're all there.

I am blessed with my riverbank home; the location is great for a variety of birds, though like any place, you tend to see the same species annually with maybe two or three oddities or "bonus" species per year.

Grizz………… said...

Weaver…

We certainly do have grackles here—a sort of long-tailed blackbird, sleek and handsome, though quite the bully. They gather in large flocks.

As to why so many cardinals are here…the simple answer is that it's good cardinal habitat. And of course I put out plenty of feed of the type they like (cracked corn) as well as sunflower seeds which they also enjoy. So there's food, water (river) and shelter (dense thickets) nearby.

When you were in the southwest U.S. you really weren't in the best of cardinal territory—though I'm not basing that on personal experience, just field guides. Resident birders might disagree.

But…and dear Weaver I really do hate to say this…cardinals are really common all over the Midwest. If I were making a bet as to the first bird I'd see every day, I'd say cardinal—and I'd be right probably 90 percent of the time. Cardinals are about easy to see (except when they molting) as any bird I can think of; I often have a dozen or two in the tree and on the ground around the feeders, especially when it's snowing. There's a scarlet-bright male in the under-the-eave feeder 18 inches from my deskside window even as I write this—and just now he's been joined by the female.

Once, at my parents' house, Dad counted over fifty male cardinals in the backyard haw tree near the porch. He didn't event try to count the females. Dad called me to come see (I lived two blocks away the the time) and I rushed over—and I'd give a thousand bucks for a photo of that tree, filled…decorated!…with cardinals. What a sight!

If I could pack up a box of redbirds and send them to you, I surely would.

SoulDragon said...

Hello from "Downunder". I just love your page, being somewhat of a twitcher myself,however I could not hope to possess such amazing photos! There is so much to see and read here.....will check back often!

ellen abbott said...

We have a lot of cardinals here though I don't feed them. Last fall there were 8, four pair, cardinals all vying for the birdbath. And I have a shrub outside my window that for some reason often attracts lots of birds. A couple of weeks ago there were cardinals, chickadees, wrens, tufted titmice, yellow rumped warblers, a finch of some kind I think, a mockingbird also came over to see what was going on all in this sparse shrub at the same time.

Robin said...

Oh, wow!

Grizz………… said...

SoulDragon…

Welcome to the riverbank! I'm glad you found your way here and pleased you liked what you saw. Thank you for your nice comment re. the photos. There is a lot of stuff here, from birds to butterflies to bats, and a great deal more. Browse at will!

Grizz………… said...

Ellen…

See, that's why I hedged my comment to Weaver—I just knew someone in Texas would have herds of cardinals hanging around their place and prove me wrong. Except for the warbler and mockingbird, that gang hanging around the shrub sounds like the same birds hanging around my feeder today…of course my feeder and birds were being snowed upon.

Grizz………… said...

Robin…

Good wow, bad wow…or bow-wow?

Hilary said...

What a treat to be able to see so many beauties at once. I can only imaging how cool to see what you did before accessing your camera. I managed to find 16 of them. One lovely little female Cardinal is so well camouflaged in the trunk of the tree.

Grizz………… said...

Hilary…

Hey, you found the most difficult one! Congratulations! One to go!