Weather at Bedford, Hanscom Field, MA - via NOAA's National Weather Service

Friday, November 26, 2010

red-breasted nuthatch

I've got red-breasted nuthatches at my feeders again this year.  I haven't had them, or noticed them at any rate, for a couple of years now, so it is fun to see them back.
I've also got blue jays, cardinals, chickadees & titmice, white-breasted nuthatches, goldfinches, house finches, carolina wrens, downy woodpeckers, a red-bellied woodpecker, mourning doves, juncos... there are probably more that I'm not thinking of at the moment or that I haven't seen yet. 
I have not seen large flocks of robins as I do some years.  I've seen a few, and I don't know if they haven't flocked up yet, or just haven't made it to where I look for them.

Thursday, November 25, 2010


Plenty of ice on the ponds this morning.  It's the first real ice I've seen this season.

Happy Thanksgiving!

Tuesday, November 23, 2010

Saturday, November 20, 2010

bird stories

I've got three bird stories. 

The first is about an annoying woodpecker (and I mostly like birds!) that has been banging on our house for several days - made a pretty good sized hole, in fact, all the way through the siding, which is vertical cedar.  Today my husband and I (I was the one on the ladder) put up some aluminum over where the critter had been pecking and hung a few cds up there also, hoping to discourage further damage.  We also got and put out a suet feeder, which some website said might help keep them away from the house. 
I'm not sure if it was a downy or a hairy - when I went out to chase it off, I was more concerned about the house than exactly which type of bird!   
Many years ago we had a problem like this, but the bird eventually gave up and we haven't had anyone doing damage like this in ages - I suppose it is a new bird in the neighborhood. 
This problem is actually quite common in my neighborhood, which is comprised of cedar sided contemporary homes.  They seem to like the corner of the house where the power lines come in to the building, and I've heard that there is enough vibration in those wires, where they attach to the house, that the birds mistake the vibrations for that of insects in the wood.  Some people have hung plastic owls up in an effort to keep the damage to a minimum.
Woodpeckers are funny sometimes - in one house we lived in, there was an aluminum tv antenna on the roof.  We had a woodpecker that would come and bang on that.  In that instance it must have simply been to make the noise, to declare territory or advertise presence - there were no bugs to be had there, and I'm sure the woodpecker knew that.

The next story is shorter, but more interesting - I think!
I was walking yesterday morning under some power lines.  There were two groups of mourning doves in different places on the lines.  At some distance, a bird flew toward the power lines and the further group of doves scattered.  I wondered for a moment, and the same bird flew toward the doves closer to me, scattering those doves also.  At this point I could clearly see that the bird was a hawk - a sharp-shinned, I think, judging by the tail length and overall size.  The hawk must not have been particularly hungry because it just flew off after the doves scattered, not bothering to chase any of them, that I could tell.

And the last story is the coolest - maybe...
My husband and I were outside, putting the ladder away after the woodpecker project, and our daughter came out, very excited about a "huge bird" in a tree behind the house.  Well, she was right - it was a barred owl, just sitting on a dead branch, looking around for a snack (there were tons of songbirds around at our feeders).  It sat there for quite a while - I got the binoculars, my husband got the spotting scope, and my daughter got her camera.  Eventually a blue jay came along and the barred owl flew off to a nearby pine tree where it could be more sheltered.  It did not seem particularly bothered by the jay.  The jay squawked a few times, but no other jays came along to start a mob and the jay flew off to find something else to do.  I guess owl mobbing wasn't high on its' list of activities for today.  I worked outside most of the afternoon, planting some mums and doing some fall cleanup, and when I came in, as it was getting dark, the owl was still in that same pine tree.  I would love it if it chose our area for its' winter territory (in spite of the potential loss of some songbirds).

Oh yeah, one more thing - I've seen several pine siskins this fall.  Last year I noticed few if any, and the year before we were over-run by them. 

Saturday, November 6, 2010

witch hazel

My hamamelis virginiana is blooming!  This is the fall witch hazel.  I have had a spring-blooming witch hazel, hamamelis vernalis, for several years, and I put in a fall-blooming slip a few years ago.  This is the first fall it has bloomed.  It is an interesting plant, in either variety.  It blooms very early - February! - or late - November - depending on which one you are looking at.
Here are a few pics of my fall witch hazel: