An Extraordinary Ordinary Bird

mourning dove June
Isn't he a handsome little devil? This photo of an Mourning Dove just reinforces my oft-repeated assertion that 'common' everyday birds are often startlingly beautiful. Perhaps in this case, he is more startling than beautiful!

mourning dove closeup
Mourning Doves are "common' and familiar birds in the US. Nonetheless, they really are a rather uncommon looking bird. This one's puffed up feathers make this Mourning Dove appear twice as large as she really is.

sleepy mourning dove
This proud papa is so tired from the burdens of parenthood that he is about to doze off in the sun. Mourning Doves have multiple broods each year, so they are always busy hatching eggs or feeding and caring for their young. Don't you love the amazing blue eyelids?

pink mourning dove
A male Mourning Dove sitting on the roof. Male Mourning Dove's are pinker and brighter than females, but he is far too pink even for a male. What is the cause of this rosy glow when I didn't mess around with the color processing? I have concluded that he looks pink from a combination of morning sunlight and the reflected light from the roofing material.

wet dove on a wire
Mourning Doves, Like their cousins the Pigeons, like to sit on wires. They are such an ordinary sight that we hardly notice them. A closer look at their bright red feet, their polka dots and stripes, their startling eye-rings , and their spherical shapes, however, will reveal a rather extraordinary ordinary bird!


My Baby Rose-Breasted Grosbeak

RBG baby
The fledgling Rose-Breasted Grosbeak perched on a wire. He appears to have been at the suet feeder, or maybe he has found some juicy berries somewhere.

RBG baby 2
Seeing this little guy up close was one of the high points of my birthday!

RBG baby wire
He seems too young and vulnerable to be on his own, but I've seen no evidence of other Rose-breasted Grosbeaks around.

RBG baby wire 2
Rose-breasted Grosbeaks fledge 9 to 12 days after they hatch. That seems a very short childhood to me!

RBG baby wire 3
This fledgling Rose-Breasted Grosbeak seems quite healthy and well, although a bit lonely. At least he's been successful at finding food!


Backyard Blackbirds

rwb tree
I don't see many Red-winged Blackbirds in my yard. I hear them around, but they aren't really bird feeder aficionados.

rwb tree 3
Still, it was fun to get close enough to take photos of a Red-winged Blackbird.

rwb lawn
They weren't very shy, as it turned out. Two RWBs hung around for a bit, checking out the other birds and basically ignoring me.

rwb lawn 2
He might have been looking at the chipmunks bouncing all around the yard. They are pretty comical to watch.

rwb lawn 4
Maybe they just stopped by for a little rest and relaxation.


Juvenile (Baby) Rose-breasted Grosbeak

Juvenile Redbreasted grosbeak
I finally captured him! My male juvenile Rose-breasted Grosbeak, looking a little more mottled and worse for wear than last weekend.

juvi redbreasted grosbeak 2
Who could not be enchanted by his baby-face. And he was calling so piteously for someone to feed him. He's not ready to go it alone!

juvi redbreasted grosbeak 4
He seems a bit put off by he uninvited company!

juvi redbreasted grosbeak 3
On top pf the unfamiliar stripes ans spotted appearance, this species could not be confused with another.

juvi redbreasted grosbeak 5
I feel privileged to even have seen one!


Baby Woodpecker

female baby downy fathers day 2011
The baby Downy Woodpeckers are too adorable for words. (Sorry about the sentimentality!)

baby downy fathers day five 2011
The freshly fledged Downys are tiny, which is apparent if you can reference them compared to an object with known dimensions, like this suet feeder.

baby downy food fight
Even these tender babes are forced to fight off the sparrows if they want to eat, however.

baby downy food fight 2
At first she was taken aback by the arrival of company at the suet feeder. Then she was attacked.

baby downy food fight 3
When the young woodpecker fought back, the sparrows retreated. She was able to get a few bites of food, anyway.


Something Never Seen Before!

feeder pigeons 2
Here's something I'll bet you've never seen before! I know I haven't, and there's been a bird feeder in my various back yards for 50 years! On the other hand, pigeons are really quite extraordinary looking birds when you see them as individuals.

pigeons grackle house sparrow
Yes, I'm paying good money to feed Grackles, House Sparrows, and Pigeons (aka Rock Doves). I also provide food for squirrels and chipmunks (albeit unintentionally!)

feeder pigeons sparrow
These guys are HUGE! The sparrow in the photo is a good indicator of their size.

feeder pigeons 4
These pigeons didn't actually eat anything. They evidently don't care for shelled seed, and they couldn't use the suet feeder.

feeder pigeons 5
They emptied the feeder onto the ground while looking for the occasional unshelled sunflower seed. All the ground critters were grateful for the unexpected treat. The grackle eventually chased them away, by the way.


So Many Baby Birds, But . . .

sparrow fathers day
I saw SO MANY baby birds yesterday! I Spent 8 hours in a tent in my back yard trying to get a photo of the baby Red-breasted Grosbeak we saw early in the morning. But I never caught a glimpse of him again. For one thing, there are TOO MANY SPARROWS in my yard!

too many sparrows two
I'm not kidding. We have WAY TOO MANY sparrows right now. Either House Sparrows have giant broods or there were thousands of them to start with.

too many sparrows
It's like being overrun with rodents (which are also in far too plentiful a supply!)

sparrow feeding chick
But as much as they aggravate me, I can't hate them. It's not their fault they were introduced to an environment where they thrive much more than native species.

sparrow feeding chick two
They can also be very cute. The females always look so happy - and how can you resist a daddy sparrow helping his offspring learn how to survive!


Excitement across the street!

driveway sparrow
I'm overwhelmed with sparrows! So overwhelmed that I don't even know what this guy is. I'm going with an immature something!

Eating worms that are eating the tree
This bird is eating the bug, worms, or caterpillars that are eating my neighbors new tree. This tree also provides a lot of cover, so it's a bird hot-spot!

A playground of wires
But by far the strangest thing I saw across the street was the bird using the telephone and electric wires as a playground!

the electric swing
This female sparrow was even swinging on an electric wire!

singing on the electric swing
And having a grand old time doing it, if her delighted singing is any indication!


Laughing Gull Love

courtship gulls 4
Laughing Gulls evidently pair up in May also, and they seem to have courtship rituals that closely resemble the terns. Arching one's neck is one move that always impresses the female Laughing Gulls.

courtship gulls 2
Loud calls appeared to play a role in Laughing Gull courtships, just as they did in the courtship rituals of Common Terns.

courtship gulls
Like the Common Terns, Male Laughing Gulls will bring gifts of food to potential mates.

courtship gulls 3
There was a whole lot of pairing up going on when we visited Pymouth Beach in May, 2011.

gull piggyback
There was a whole lot of mating going on, too. This 'piggy-back' position is really an introduction to intercourse for the gulls.


Terns in Love

terns dancing 1
We definitely saw a lot of courtship and even mating behavior among the terns and gulls at Plymouth Beach last month.

cross terns
It was fellow blogger Hilke Breder, the brilliant author of One Jackdaw Birding, who noticed the courtship behavior displayed in this photo when I first posted it a few weeks ago.

courtship terns 4
There is evidently quite a bit of ritualized behavior involved in the courtship of Common Terns.

two common terns II
Along with head tossing, loud calls, and very dignified dancing, there was also what we would consider more romantic behavior. The males often bring a gift of food to their potential mate, for instance.

terns in love
At first, I thought this 'piggyback' behavior was nothing more than a game. There is no potential for consummation of a sexual act in this position, after all!

tern piggyback 1
But this how sex starts for terns and for other species such as Laughing Gulls. After a little twisting and 'terning', the female will probably walk away with a fertilized egg!