Tuesday, March 30, 2010

The Mob

Around here, there is prolific bird life this time of year. We must be on the edge of a migratory path or something, because I've seen all kinds of birds I don't normally. Living on the edge of a greenspace might have something to do with it too, but who knows.

We have the mating pair of red-shouldered hawks that live next door. One of them, I'm guessing the female, is HUGE. Perhaps some day I'll manage to get a picture of them, but usually they're too far away for my tiny telephoto lens to picture more than just a blob.

There are titmice in the oak trees to the left of the driveway. I know this because they yelled at me tonight when I brought the horses up to groom and saddle. I'm hoping they have a nest somewhere, because I just love their cheerful little crests. They are really cute birds.

I've also seen a couple of black-capped chickadees, which aren't common around here, so I'm guessing they're passing through. They're a nice change to the common brown English sparrow that seems to be in this city by the millions.

Speaking of common city birds, Austin is overrun by boat-tailed grackles. At the university, they discharge shotgun blanks into trees so the birds won't roost there; if they do, by morning the sidewalk under the tree is covered in their guano. It's pretty gross. However, we hadn't seen one here until the middle of last week, and then - get this - the chickens chased it off! It was trying to get water out of Anie's water bucket, but the chickens weren't having any of that. It left the property post-haste, and I have to say I wasn't sorry to see it go.

There are dozens of other little birds that are too fast and/or small for me to ID, but my all-time favorite for this time of year are the cedar waxwings. They tend to travel in mobs of several hundred, and their little voices are so easy to identify. They are also beautiful birds - the flash of red on the wing, the bit of yellow on the tail, the rakish black mask - so cute. They converge on a fruiting tree, eat everything they can, and then move on. I'm not entirely sure what they find so appealing about our flowering Post Oak trees, but they visit daily.

A "mob" of cedar waxwings in the front tree at our old house

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