Tag Archives: bird watching

Anyone lose a Chukar?

 

As we were pulling out of our driveway the other day I spotted something odd in front of our deer ravaged Yew bushes….

 

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Naturally I made the husband stop while I ran back inside for my camera.

 

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It was an odd looking bird I hadn’t seen before…

 

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And when I looked it up online, I understood why.

 

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It was a Chukar.

Introduced from Eurasia, the sandy-brown Chukar is a game bird that lives in high desert plains of western North America, as well as in Hawaii and New Zealand. Its namesake call echoes across dry rocky slopes. It runs and scampers up steep terrain with the agility and speed of a mountain goat, prompting hunters to nickname it the “devil bird” for the brutal chase it gives. Dark bars on the sides and a band across the head and neck adorn this red-billed game bird.

 

A devil bird?

Well that’s disturbing…

 

 

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If you look at the map of it’s range in the U.S…..

 

 

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You’ll see it’s a long way from Maine.

Which got me curious enough to do a little research.

 

 

Oh, stop being so dramatic….. you might learn something.

It’s nothing you need or want to know, but still.

 

Depending on where you live, you may have the fortune of encountering a medium-sized game bird called Chukar. You’ll recognize this bird from their inclusion in many North American field guides, though they are not a native species. Chukars, pronounced “chuh-kahr“, are an introduced species, originating from mountains of middle Eurasia, now common around the western United States’ Great Basin north into western Canada. With this history, and a lack of showing any establishing populations in Maine, Chukars should be treated like other escaped domestic fowl.

 

 

Of course. Happy to…

 

 

The American Birding Association put forth Criteria for Determining Establishment of Exotics which Maine’s Chukars don’t meet. These birds are raised and released by commercial hunting operations with no success establishing wild populations. Northern Bobwhites are another game species widely released in Maine. While these small quails have successfully bred in the wild multiple times, none of the populations appear to be growing or even stable enough to warrant becoming established.

 

So basically they’ve taken these poor birds, who have no hope of surviving here, and released them into the wild so they can hunt and kill them. Of course the ones they don’t shoot will probably die of cold or starvation.

 

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Makes me wish I had scooped the sweet little guy up and brought him in the house as a pet.

Humans are cruel.

For bird nerds.

 

If you don’t spend countless hours staring out the window with camera in hand to see if a new bird has shown up at the horrendously expensive buffet of seeds, nuts and suet you arrange on what used to be your laundry pole?

Feel free to skip this post.

 

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But birders will get it.

The other day I spotted a Red Bellied Woodpecker. They used to be relatively rare in Maine and all the field guides say they shouldn’t come any farther north than Massachusetts… yet here they are.

Trying to get an unobstructed shot of one proved a bit more difficult.

 

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Juvenile starlings are notorious photo bombers.

 

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Almost…

 

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Finally.

 

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An even rarer spotting was this Scarlet Tanager.

 

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They’re usually forest dwellers and our place is pretty open.

 

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So I was tickled pink when this little beauty showed up.

 

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Or red, as the case may be.

That’s the wonderful thing about bird watching, you never know what you’ll see.

 

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By now our Baltimore Orioles are usually long gone, but this year I bought a feeder that houses grape jelly so they seem to be sticking around.

 

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These two made me laugh.

They seemed to be squaring off for an orange eating contest.

 

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Granted it doesn’t provide the same excitement of hot dog eating contests…

 

 

But there’s also less chance of projectile vomit…

So that’s a plus.

 

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Bird watching… there’s never a dull moment.

Alright, I lie. There are plenty of excruciatingly dull moments, but when something special does happen?

You smile.

 

They’re a wee bit confused.

 

I put birdseed out for the birds….

 

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Which the deer eat.

 

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I put apples out for the deer….

 

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Which the woodchucks eat.

 

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Granted, they’re cute as all get out when they do…

 

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But do they have to eat the deer grain as well?

 

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Sometimes they climb right in the bowl and polish it off.

Which leads the deer to eat…

 

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It’s a vicious circle.

And proves that our backyard creatures are a little confused.

Like this Baltimore Oriole….

 

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Who tries to drink from the hummingbird feeder.

 

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Yes, you.

 

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The owner of this house spends a small fortune keeping you in fresh oranges and grape jelly…. don’t get greedy.

Of course….

This guy?

 

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Eats whatever…

 

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And whoever he wants.

 

 

 

Orange in da house!

 

Okay, technically…. outside the house.

 

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But I spotted a few of these beauties the other day…

 

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And realized it was time to get the Baltimore Oriole feeder out.

20 minutes later…. after tearing the utility  (read – I don’t know where else to put all this crap)  closet apart, I remembered a raccoon had broken last year’s feeder trying to drink the nectar and I never replaced it.

 

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May in Maine means Orioles.

It also means there’s not a feeder to be had within 500 miles. We northerners are starved for color after a long white winter and take our bird feeding seriously.

Jeff Bezos to the rescue.

 

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Good thing I don’t use Alexa.

 

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2 days later Amazon Prime came through with an interesting new triple threat feeder.

 

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A flat dish for nectar.

 

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Spikes for holding orange halves.

 

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And 4 reservoirs for grape jelly.

I’d never done the jelly before, but Holy Hell!  They love it.

Welch’s….

 

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Giving birds diabetes since 1923.

 

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Good news, bad news.

 

Good news?

Our visiting Kestrel is back…

 

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And he brought a friend…

 

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(Apologies for the photo quality, I was at the utter limits of my zoom lens)

 

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They’re such pretty little things, and I enjoyed watching them fly around the yard all morning.

Until I heard a thump…

And looked out the window.

 

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Yeah.

 

 

Not for the dove anyway.

 

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Kestrels will be Kestrels.

 

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But it would have been nice if he’d finished his meal and not left me the pieces and parts clean up detail…

 

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As well as a blood stained lawn.

Okay, granted… it could be worse.

 

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But still….

 

 

 

 

Air mail for bird nerds.

 

I love living in the country….

Because you never know who will drop by.

Or deliver the mail.

 

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The other day?

 

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It was this little beauty.

 

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An American Kestrel.

We have many birds of prey fly over head…. Bald Eagles, Red Tail Hawks, Golden Eagles, Ospreys .

 

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We have a Sharp Shinned Hawk who plucks mourning doves off our bird feeders.

 

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Yes, even the ones in disguise.

We have a Barred Owl who perches on our deck railing waiting for mice to scurry by.

 

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But this Kestrel is the first one I’ve seen on our property in the 18 years we’ve lived here.

For bird lovers like us?

It’s a beautiful thing.

 

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