Monday, January 19, 2009


Do you recognize this birdie??

After weeks of seeing pictures of Common Redpolls at the birdfeeders of my Minnesota blogging friends, I finally saw one at my nyjer feeder this afternoon!

This is a female (no pink wash on the chest). What a cutie! This sighting made my day!

We had snow flurries for most of the weekend, so there was all kinds of bird activity at the backyard feeders. Here's a partially leucistic male House Finch I've been seeing around my feeders for most of the winter. I don't see him too frequently, but I managed to get this one photo of him yesterday afternoon while he was visiting one of the birdfeeders on my deck.

Check out this all-bird action at my dining room window feeder! I have a hull-less blend in there and once the bluejays have eaten all the peanuts, the little birdies flock in to eat the seeds in the tray. There are 3 goldfinches, 3 house finches and I'm always surprised when the juncos show up for seeds this close to the house.

I still have a pretty good sized flock of mourning doves every day at the feeders. Yesterday afternoon, I spotted 7 of them perched in the oak tree in the backyard. They sat there like this for a long time.

Here's a close-up look at the dove snoozing on the lowest branch. Apparently they must have a lot of faith in the bluejays who provide early warning shrieks when the hawk flies into the yard.

A little farther from my backyard comes the exciting news that the Operation Migration team was successful in finally leading the first 7 whooping crane chicks to St. Mark's National Wildlife Refuge in Florida. After departing Necedah National Wildlife Refuge on October 17, the OM team landed their ultralight aircraft and 7 whooper chicks at the refuge on January 17--exactly 3 months since leaving Wisconsin! What an incredible journey. If you're interested in learning more, click on this link to read the field journal reports and see photos from the migration. You can also subscribe to the "Whooper Happenings" podcasts through the iTunes store.


Shellmo said...

I've always wanted to see a redpoll! Yours is so cute! And I love the mix of the finch colors in your feeding tray! The snoozing mourning dove always makes me laugh. (They are easy pickings for the hawk in my backyard unfortunately. Our Blue Jays must not be doing their job!!)

Lisa at Greenbow said...

You lucky dog. We have 2inches of snow on the ground and can't even get a Towhee coming into the feeder area. Geez.

Everyone in Northern IN are getting White winged Crossbills. I would love to get one. I would even stop whining if I got just one. I wouldn't even care if it was Male or Female. WHINE....

Redpolls are just as rare for our area. Lucky, yep you are lucky.

RuthieJ said...

Hi Shelley,
I think it's been at least 10 winters since I've had redpolls at my feeders. It sounds like there are lots of them that have headed farther south than normal this winter. Keep watching -- I'm sure you'll get a chance to see some at your feeders this winter too.

Keep the faith and your feeders filled, Lisa! Eventually those birdies will find the feast in your backyard. I've never had crossbills at my feeders either, but I agree it would be quite special!

Lynne said...

Lucky you Ruthie! I haven't seen a Redpoll since we were in the Sax-Zim Bog last winter.

RuthieJ said...

Hi Lynne,
When I was out tossing Sophie's frisbee after work today I heard a bird song that was a bit different than the goldfinch. After I came in the house, I noticed a different looking bird at the feeder with the goldfinches, so I quickly grabbed the bins and saw that red cap quite clearly. She stayed at the feeder about 5 minutes and I never saw her again the rest of the day. If we weren't so busy at work, I'd take tomorrow off because I think with the warmer, sunny weather, there will be lots of bird activity in the backyard.
I hope some redpolls show up in your backyard yet this winter!

Leedra said...

You get as excited as me. I saw my first ever Pine Siskin today, and got a few photos. I was so excited.

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Dana and Daisy said...

what a feast for the eyes! I hope you don't mind a copy cat as it is the highest form of flattery but I giggles at your avatar so many times that I decided to add one to my blog also.

jan m said...

I love your redpoll. I rarely see one here. Isn't it amazing how long a mourning dove can stay in one place? I guess they would have to eat more if they moved more, being as big as they are.

Kelly said...

Hi Ruthie,
I came to your site through Heather of the Hills. You're so lucky redpolls came to your feeder! I've been chasing them all over Cincinnati and keep missing them. It would be a life bird for me. Love your colorful photos.

Anonymous said...

It has been many years since I saw a redpoll, I looked in my bird calendars, back 15 yrs, so it's been a long time. You are one very lucky person. Those were some awesome bird pics.


Red said...

You sure had the variety this weekend! Our goldfinches, house finches and juncos all feed together too... it's cute.

cindy said...

I'm sooo green with envy! I have been waiting for a redpoll all winter! I have so many goldfinches and siskins and House Finches and even a couple of Purple Finches now, but no redpolls. AAAHHHHH!

Mary C said...

That's great! Now you finally have the redpolls visiting. Now that's one bird you won't see here in California.

Maud said...

Lovely pictures Ruth!

Kallen305 said...

Lucky you with that redpoll. I am still searching for one in my yard.

troutbirder said...

I news about the cranes is very exciting. Especially after the hurricane disaster there a while back. A good friend of mine daughter worked at Neceedah several summers ago so I got acquainted. Thanks for the mention about Birding Minnesota. I was totally surprised on that "contributing artist" bit.

Mama Pea said...

Okay, Ruthie, I have to show my ignorance. You refer to "...leucistic male House Finch...". I don't know what leucistic means nor can I find a definition anywhere. Help?

Heather said...

Ack! I am jealous of your redpoll! I'm still crossing my fingers to find one at my feeders this winter. But hey, I got siskins for the first time ever this winter, so I should be grateful for that, huh?

RuthieJ said...

Hi Leedra,
It's always exciting to see something extraordinary at the backyard birdfeeders--right alongside the ordinary.

Hi Dana,
I checked out your avatar--she looks just like you! Very cute and I'm happy that you were able to include a Daisy look-alike too.

Hi Jan,
I would have thought it was too cold on Sunday for them to stay perched out in the open like that, but all their feathers fluffed up must keep them pretty warm.

Hi Kelly,
Thanks for stopping by my blog. I hope you find your redpolls soon!

Hi Mom,
Do you really have calendars going back 15 years?? I was thinking it's at least 10 since I've had a redpoll here, but I'll go with 15.

Thanks Red, it was non-stop bird action at the feeders all weekend and all those birds at the window keep Penny amused.

Hi Cindy,
I had siskins earlier in the winter, but they're all gone now--maybe headed farther south? I wonder if the redpolls will also continue to move south as this cold weather sticks around? Hopefully you'll get to see one this winter too.

Hi Mary C,
I'm looking forward to seeing some neat birds in California--hopefully a burrowing owl and white-faced ibis (both would be lifers).

Thank you Maud!

Hi Kallen,
Keep watching close--the redpoll was even smaller than the goldfinches and if I hadn't noticed the red cap, I would have thought it was a pine siskin.

Hi Troutbirder,
Last summer was my first extended visit to NNWR. It's such an amazing place and I hope to be able to visit next summer for one of the special tours they have at the blinds where you can see the whooping crane chicks. That would be extra special.

Hi Mama Pea,
I hope these definitions help--

Albino = bird that has all white feathers, pink eyes, beak, feet, etc. (i.e., no colored anywhere on it)

Leucistic = bird that has all white feathers, but eyes, beak, feet, etc. are normal bird color. This is especially remarkable on a bird like a cardinal where it's beak is red, eyes are black and legs/feet are orange, but all its feathers are white.

Partially Leucistic = A bird like the house finch I photographed with patches of white feathers mixed in with its normal colored plumage. (I had a goldfinch like this last winter too--his head and neck feathers were snow-white and the rest of him was normal gold-colored.)

Hi Heather,
I think Siskins are a good predictor of redpolls, because I had siskins at my feeders earlier this winter too. I hope you get a redpoll soon.

Mary said...

That last photo made my laugh out loud. How would you like to have about 20 of them sleeping in your feeders? LOL!

Congrats on your redpoll!


Jayne said...

Yay, your redpolls are back! Busy, busy feeders at your house Ruthie. :c)

RuthieJ said...

Hi Mary,
I think because I have so many ground feeders, the doves tend to congregate there, but there's always 1 or 2 who will try to park in the trays on my tube feeders. They're usually pretty non-confrontational, so it hasn't been much of a problem.

Hi Jayne,
I bought another 125 lbs of seed yesterday afternoon--only 10 days in between purchases this time! Yikes--the birdies are really hungry this winter!

Marsha said...

My redpolls seemed to have left...maybe they flew SE ;-)

Great shots...such a variety of birds at your feeders.

Owlman said...

Great Redpoll pics. I finally saw my lifer Redpoll this weekend at the Superbowl of Birding in MA.