Banded Birds At My Bird Feeder Camera

In case you have not heard, we're buried under an old school blizzard dumping up here.  The local weather folk were predicting with barely restrained glee the potential for a massive storm.  And though many of us have heard in the Twin Cities that we could get 1 - 2 feet of snow, many of us eyed this impending Snowmaggedon with skepticism.  It often amounts to only a few inches.  But to to be safe, I head out to Neil's for some last minute honey bottling finished--I need to get some together to mail to family for the holidays.  I generally use birds at the feeder as an indication if the weather predictions are true.  On Friday all feathers pointed to us getting seriously slammed on Saturday.  The goldfinches were draining the thistle feeder and even the pileated woodpecker chowed down on the suet feeder closest to the window.

While I was dealing with the honey (more on that later), I set up my WingScapes Camera out on a stump and covered it with some bird food.  Above is a male and female cardinal along with a winter plumage goldfinch.

Check out this ambitious white-breasted nuthatch!  Besides black oil sunflower seed, I crumpled up some peanut suet and the nuthatch was grabbing one of the larger chunks.  I also noted the nuthatch was banded.  Most likely the handy work of my buddies Mark and Roger who come out to band birds twice a year.  There were quite a few banded birds coming in to the cam:

Here's a banded blue jay--I think it's been a few years since Mark and Roger got one of these in the nets, so this bird could be a few years old.  Can't say for sure, since I can't read the band number, I can't say for sure.  It could even be someone else's banded bird.

Here's one of several banded black-capped chickadees.  Are they all photos of the same banded bird or several banded chickadees coming in to the seed, each taking a turn?

Here's a banded dark-eyed junco.  With the dark gray head and the brown on the back feathers, its looks like a first year junco, probably banded this fall.

And here is a banded titmouse.  It's nice to see all of the banded birds surviving and still coming to the feeding station, despite the nets going up twice a year.

There were a few other interesting photos that the cam picked up:

I find that crows are the hardest birds to capture on a motion sensitive camera.  This crow was watching the other birds go after the suet and it really, really wanted it.  It watched the stump for about ten minutes, trying to work out what the camera was all about.  After watching dozens of smaller birds go down for the suet, it tried.  But as soon as it landed, it bounced off the stump.  I wonder if it can hear the digital camera go off?  Can it see some change in the shutter?  It never grabbed any suet and it never returned to the stump--which suited the smaller birds just fine.

This photo cracks me up.  It looks like the cardinal is totally planning to ambush the chickadee.

These are just a small fraction of the hundreds of photos my Wingscapes Cam grabbed that afternoon.  The birds didn't lie, we got slammed with snow.  Even though the storm was Saturday, I can hear a semi truck in my neighborhood squealing it's tires as I type this.  It's been stuck in a bank of snow for the last 45 minutes. Minneapolis is pretty savvy when it comes to snow removal, but this one came so fast and there's only so any places that a city can put it, we're still a few days away from normality.

Mom, I'll post photos of our neighborhood later

Blue Jay & Hairy Woodpecker Interaction

Well, we're about to get Snomaggedon in the Twin Cities this weekend (12 inches with blizzard conditions).  The birds are going bonkers at the feeders so I set out the Wingscapes camera to grab some images.

The jaunty blue jay is loving the crumpled up peanut suet mixed with black-oil sunflower seeds.

And then he is joined by a hairy woodpecker.

More Panama Birding

Wow, what a great Monday--we might hit 40 degrees (do I dare take out my bike), I'm going to learn how to ice fish today and I just came off a fun weekend.  I have to put in a plug for my Twin Cities readers: Non Birding Bill's birthday was the day I flew to Panama. To make up for it, I scheduled a party with Virginia Corbett who taught us how to do couple's dancing like the cha cha, foxtrot, and hustle.  It was fun and easy going and you have to love a woman who can teach you to fox trot to Jonathan Coulton.  I think even our friends who were horrified at the idea of learning to dance had a good time.  If course, the Lambic and cupcakes helped.

And speaking of Panama, I am SO not finished blogging about it.  What fertile blogging ground that place is.  And I am planning a ten day tour there next year.  Carlos was going to get me the itinerary late last week but his computer died.  But it is on in mid to late February and it will happen at both Canopy Lodge and Canopy Tower.  Start calculating your frequent flyer miles and saving your pennies now.  This will be an unforgettable winter getaway in 2011.

One of the fun things about birding in another country is that the vehicles they use to transport you are a bit more exciting than what would be allowed in the US.  Here we have a truck and the bed is fitted with padded benches that allow us to watch for birds and mammals unfettered by a roof and seat belts.  If we were traveling and saw something worth stopping for, all you had to do was pound on the roof of the cab and the guide would stop the vehicle.  Fun!  Some of our best birding was the road to and from Canopy Tower called Semaphore Hill.  One morning we walked it, but often when we were tootling down to hit the highway and on to birding adventures elsewhere, we would have the driver stop for monkeys or motmots.

Coatis were frequently seen along the road and when the drivers stopped the vehicle so we could get photos, I noticed the familiar smirk.  It's the same one I would give if I were leading a US tour and we stopped for a raccoon.  But the guides are smart and they know that people love an animal with a nose that appears to swivel around of its own accord.  Oh, coati, how can you be so cute munching your palm fruit and not allow me to scratch your belly?

I did get to see a celebrity bird.  Does this species look familiar to you?  It's actual name is the red-capped manakin but I would wager that millions have seen this bird and not know its name, but they do know it as the Moonwalk Bird--here's a collection of videos I've found on the web. There's actually a second male in this photos but he is obscured by the branch.  I did get to see a hint of the display but did not get to see the manakin in his full Moonwalking glory.  Writer Laura Kammermeier has an article a fun video of the manakin mating dance.  Her video also includes a bit more graphic bit that tends to be left off of the nature programs and her color commentary that goes along with it is hilarious.  I never grew tired of seeing these cute little birds, I had to resist asking for an autograph.

All kinds of birds lurked in the lower canopy like this dusky antbird and as much I love a gray bird, the female of this species appeals to my love of brown birds:

All kinds of cool birds hid in the lower foliage. One bird I was really looking forward to was the tinamou--it was also a requested bird when I asked what people wanted me to try and photograph.  We heard them quite a bit and one day when we were driving up to the Tower, we saw a couple on the side of the road.

But tinamous like this great tinamou above like to lurk and hide in dark places--probably because this chicken like bird also known as the mountain hen has a body built for food.  Being cagey and secretive is their key to survival.  I brought along a video camera because some of those dark areas are not good for digiscoping and here is a video of the great tinamou:


You can hear Carlos doing the great tinamou wavering whistle and another tinamou answering back from deeper in the forest.

Outside the tower itself were a few hummingbird feeders.  Above is a photo I got of a white-necked jacobin (a type of hummingbird) with the Wingscapes BirdCam. They can't have banana feeders here like at Canopy Lodge because the coatis.  They raid the feeders and will try to get into the tower and as cute as they are, the last thing I want in my room (apart from a fer de lance or bushmaster) would be a coati.  But the hummingbird feeders are enough to entertain.

Dear Non Birding Bill

Dear Non Birding Bill, We've given this whole marriage thing one heck of a try.  I'm a birder, you're not and hilarity ensues, we've put in a good eleven years and are closing in on 12--we've given it the old college try. However, after spending some time in Panama, I regret to inform you that I most likely will not be returning home.

First of all, the feeder birds are off the hook--here we have a green honeycreeper (creeping up on some bananas) that I got with the Wingscapes camera coming in to Canopy Lodge.  What can I say, I'm in love with this crazy green fella.  The temperatures at the lodge are surprisingly cool, although humid, but I think I can live with that for the sake of such colorful birds.

You might think that I'm bluffing since I love the brown birds so much, but never fear there are brown birds here too.  Above we have a couple of broad-bill euphonia next to a very brown clay-colored robin (with blue-gray tanagers in the back).  And look at the mashed banana stuck on the bottom mandible of the euphonia--such lovely bird shenanigans.

At the moment, I'm at Canopy Tower and this is the view from the top--look at those mountains covered in green.  I love snow, but living in Minnesota, I've experienced my share.  I think all this green will suit me.

And in the morning, there are toucans to serenade me.  They have yet to use their noses to direct me to sugary rings of cereal or to any dark Irish stout, but they are pleasant to see lurking about the canopy.  And life here is leisurely! We start with an early breakfast, do some birding, come back for lunch, have a siesta, do a tiny bit more of birding, have dinner, maybe a drink and then off to bed to begin the day anew.  I love this birding with breaks--it's so relaxing, no more of this go and go and go and go all day for me--I'm all for this imposed afternoon napping system.

I'm typing this to you from the comfort and security of my hammock, where my digiscoping equipment is at the perfect angle to catch whatever may fly by the open window...

...or swing by as did this howler monkey who is working its way in the trees around the tower.  So we are clear, it's not that I'm leaving you for Raúl Arias de Para ( the man who owns Canopy Tower and Canopy Lodge and turned them into a birder's version of Disney Land) he has a lovely wife.  I'm not even leaving you for my guide Carlos (even though he did give me a great poptoo yesterday).

Think of this as me joining a birding order along the lines of a strange nunnery where all I do is go out into the rainforest, find birds and taking photos of them like this above linneated woodpecker (and in the case of the tinamou, take video).  It's been fun and I appreciate all the times you tried to enjoy birds. Go out and find yourself a nice girl who isn't covered in chigger bites.

Love, Birdchick

Leisurely Birding At Canopy Lodge

I am in love with birding at Canopy Lodge! Right now I am blogging from the outdoor library while being serenaded by a rushing stream, frogs and something that sounds like a screech owl but I just learned is actually a type of toad, a bufo marinus (Yo, Non Birding Bill--that's a Cane Toad to you--lol).  The birding is leisurely, this is not like one of the media trips that I sometimes take and it's go go GO!  There's ciesta time between trips, there's decent internet access, there are things like a herd of blue-gray tanagers at the feeders:

I can't believe it has taken me this long to figure out to bring the Wingscapes camera on my trips.  It took over 1300 photos today and most of them are awesome--check out all those freakin' blue-gray tanagers.  There were a total of 20 in this particular flock.  It's like a tray full of bluebirds.

I think the guides here are going to spoil me rotten.  Today, our guide Tino (who is a living, breathing iPod, he can whistle just about every bird in Panama) got all of us our target birds.  As soon as he had his scope set on a bird, he'd set mine up in three seconds flat--and my scope is a different brand.  I was able to digiscope way more this trip because of him.

Like this blue-capped motmot that Tino found lurking in the canopy.  I hardly saw motmots on my trip to Guatemala (heard them like crazy, but rarely saw them).  Today, my first day, I have seen three.  I'm going to hold off on photos of the other two in the hopes that I get better ones.

The views when we can see through the canopy are outstanding, we're surrounded by mountains and humidity--good grief, my hair hasn't been this big since 1992.  That's the nice thing about humidity for me.  My hair can go either straight or wavy depending on the type of product I put in, so I usually have to decide what to do with my hair in the morning.  Here, humidity decides for me and doesn't take "no" for an answer.  Everything is so green and so noisy.  In Minnesota, all is white and silent: no leaves rustling in wind, the water is all frozen so no babbling stream--same goes for frogs and toads.  Ah, nature noise, I love it so.

And, I was going to hold off an showing this photo but I'm too excited:

I haven't been in Panama for 24 hours and I walked under a wild sloth and digiscoped the cute little bugger!  And you can that this is a three toed sloth.  Oh sloth, you look so amiable, so unlike the disapproving rabbit I come home to every night.  It moved slow, it stretched up, it half-heartedly scratched its wrist (which makes me now wonder if sloth ever get bot flies), it just did all the slothy things you would hope a sloth would do on a nature program.  I wanted to ask for his autograph.  I can't believe we got a sloth so soon.

I can't wait to see what tomorrow (and the rest of my time here holds).  Be prepared for random photos from my Wingscapes Cam.  I have lots and need to share.

Interviewed Via Skype In Panama

So, I just filmed an interview with WCCO while in Panama via Skype.  It's for the "Good Question" series and will air tonight at 10pm.  I love it.  Thanks to the wonders of technology, I sat in the bathroom at Canopy Lodge and answered crow questions over the intertubes.  Thanks WCCO for making me feel so international! Speaking of Canopy Lodge--I am having too much fun with my Wingscapes Camera.  It's surprisingly packable and I'm able to get some cool photos:

Like another tight shot of this chestnut-headed oropendula!  Is that a banana on his beak or is he just happy to see me?  I can also get video too:


Here we have another crimson-backed tanager, blue-gray tanagers and looks like a euphonia back there too.  It's almost like you're in Panama with me.

Birds of Snowpocalypse

For those like my mother who lives in Indianapolis (who are getting Rainmageddon) and cannot experience the white Christmas we are enjoying in the Twin Cities, I thought I'd put out my Wingscapes cam to get some photos of birds and the falling snow. I forgot that I had it set to take video, so here is a cardinal in the snow:

I love the crow who seems to be on cue giving periodic two caws for ambient noise. Love the little dome over the tray to keep the seeds dry and uncovered.
Happy Holidays to everyone--however you celebrate it.
Thank you so much for taking the time to visit my blog throughout the year and a special thank you to everyone who sends to that read, "I've never really noticed birds before reading your blog, but..." and then you send me your bird story. That's what makes sharing my bird stuff so fun.