Hap identified this one as an Eastern Phoebe. I knew it was some sort of a flycatcher, and before it turned on the branch, I was able to note that it had a light yellow wash on its belly. It was a fairly large bird, in fact I first thought it was an Eastern Kingbird when I saw it land in the tree, but the tail was wrong. All spring and summer I hear phoebes singing in the woods up the street from our house, and they've probably been in my backyard before, but this time I was lucky enough to actually see one!
Farther out in the yard, I spotted this bird (about the size of a red-winged blackbird) in the top of an apple tree. At first the coloring reminded me of a female or juvenile Rose-Breasted Grosbeak (and they're still hanging around here). But after I looked at it closer, the beak and head were all wrong for a grosbeak. I scoured my field guides, finally decided it must be some sort of a sparrow, and included these photos in my e-mail to Hap. What do you think it is??
If you answered "Female Dickcissel," you would be correct!
Actually, I was pretty darn excited to know that I have finally had a Dickcissel visit my backyard, and here's why...... Several years ago, when I stopped mowing that 1-acre patch in the backyard, the reason I gave Mr. Johnson was that it would help save on gas and lawn mowing time, but my ulterior motive was to create a wild grassland area that might attract dickcissels and meadowlarks. To date, I have not seen either bird in the backyard, however some undeveloped industrial areas a few miles north of us have dickcissels hanging around all summer, so I guess my backyard might have been a quick stopover on fall migration.
Thanks again Hap! I'm so grateful for your help with identifying these 2 birds.
And on a totally unrelated note and for my Minnesota blog readers only, here's a link to a really cool mapping site (North Star Mapper) that I got last week from Margaret at the Minnesota DNR. She had sent me an e-mail asking for the "exact" location of where I'd seen the Loggerhead Shrike earlier this summer. I was able to use this site to give Margaret the specific X, Y, Latitude and Longitude coordinates of the bird's location for the DNR's records of this rare Minnesota bird. I was also able to use the site to get a good aerial look at my own backyard!