I identified a little white-breasted nuthatch today. You would think that I would already know that bird, especially if I call myself a bird-watcher. I suppose I should call myself a novice bird-watcher, or a wanna-be bird-watcher. Don’t even get me started on wrens and sparrows. How people tell the subtle differences between some of these birds is beyond me. And unlike true bird-watchers who may travel the globe, or at least the local area, in search of birds, I watch primarily from the comfort of my kitchen table with a cup of tea and, if I’m real ambitious, my digital camera close at hand.
For a while now I’ve been noticing this little white and blue-gray bird with a distinctive black hood, almost a stripe, down the back of its head and across its shoulders. So I finally got my bird book and looked for it. There it was in Peterson’s Field Guide to the Birds East of the Rockies, copyright 1980 (wow, I’ve had this book a long time), on page 213 – a pair of white-breasted nuthatches. Upon second glance, I see that the black-headed one is the male. The female has a blue-gray head and what looks like a black collar. I should have known she’d be the less distinguished of the two.
I was sitting at the kitchen table, snapping photos. And I just had to show you this one of the red-bellied woodpecker. This bird is striking in its color and size. I always notice it when it is around.
Here’s the nuthatch with a little male house finch. I mistook it for a purple finch, but that one has a purple head, unless its the female which is just basically brown with white varigations. The female house finch looks very similar. I don’t know how I’ll ever tell it from a sparrow, wren, or finch.
Oh no. Hold everything. What is that black mark on the nuthatch’s throat? And where is the black collar? Crud. I’ve mistaken a black-capped chickadee for a white-breasted nuthatch. Forget what I said about the nuthatch. Tricky business, this bird-watching.
Two little tufted titmice just landed on the feeder outside the window in the study where I sit as I type this. They’re one of my favorite birds. They look a little like a miniature gray cardinal to me. You’ll have to do without a photo today because I can’t be jumping up to get my camera every two minutes. I’m working here. I think I have a photo posted here somewhere.
While I was sitting in the kitchen watching birds, all of a sudden I saw a large shadow move across the deck outside and all the little birds fled. I got up and looked out the door to see a large hawk perched in a tree near the feeder. I’ve noticed this before and feel bad that we may have created a hawk feeding ground by attracting small birds to our feeder. But as my good friend and naturalist Marty has pointed out, maybe the hawk is just trying to feed her babies. Although I’m pretty sure birds don’t have babies this time of year. But you get the idea.
For more bird photos, see my bird page under the wildlife tab above.