Identifying the Birds

Cardinal May 23

Northern Cardinal

In 2012 I wrote a blog post about the Unknown Birds folder in my photography archive. The folder was over-full and impossible to navigate.

Robin May 24 1s

American Robin

I needed a better system.

Grackle May 20

Common Grackle

The obvious solution was to separate my Unknown Birds folder into a series of known bird folders.

Brown Thrasher May 3

Brown Thrasher May 3

Brown Thrasher

At first I tackled the problem in my usual way, with books and bookmarked websites and a notebook to keep track of everything.

Carolina Wren May 23

Carolina Wren May 23

Carolina Wren

Over time, I found that Cornell Lab of Ornithology’s All About Birds site was often the only resource I needed. Their “Browse by Name or Shape” page suits my learning style.

Sparrow May 3

Chipping Sparrow?

I still find sparrows, warblers, and chickadees endlessly confusing.

Unknown Warbler May 23

Blackpoll Warbler

Ruby crowned Kinglet March 13

Ruby-crowned Kinglet?

Blue gray Gnatcatcher April 13

Blue-gray Gnatcatcher

But my Unknown Birds folder is almost empty.

Unknown Bird May 2

Still unknown. Probably a warbler, possibly a Tennessee Warbler?

Almost. The above bird has defied all of my attempts to identify it. (It also defied most of my attempts to photograph it, which is why my best photo from the encounter is poorly lit and out of focus.) So I’m asking for help. Can you identify my unknown warbler? Is there enough information in the photo for a definitive identification? Please comment, especially if you can correct or confirm any of my other identifications!

Finally, the following photos are evidence of what happens when I get over-excited about a visitor in the yard and forget to check my camera settings…

Hawk April 30

There’s more wrong than right in these photos, but I kind of love them anyway.

Hawk April 30

Cooper’s Hawk?

Carolina Wrens

Carolina Wren Jan 16

Carolina Wrens are rare visitors in the yard, so I was excited to see a pair of them last week.

Carolina Wren Jan 15

With vivid eyebrows and down-curved bills, these little wrens always look a bit grumpy to me. They are active foragers, and the pair in our yard spent hours sifting through the iris beds in search of insects. They tossed leaves and other wintry debris out of the beds as they hunted, and I couldn’t help imagining a dialogue of fussy disapproval.

Carolina Wren Jan 15

“Just look at these irises! Have you ever seen such?”

Carolina Wren Jan 15

“Never! They’re buried in leaves!”

Carolina Wren Jan 14

I was tempted, watching the wrens, to pull on my gloves and give the iris beds a thorough cleaning. But winter is far from over, and the irises need their blanket of leaves. Especially on nights like tonight, when wind-driven snow is swirling through the yard…

Another Warm Day = Another Walk

First Landing Jan 21

Today we walked one of our favorite trails at First Landing State Park.

First Landing Jan 21

Squirrel Jan 21

Egret Jan 21

We heard a report, shortly after arriving, that two Bald Eagles had been spotted there this morning. We missed the eagles, but did see a number of egrets.

Egret Jan 21

Egret Jan 21

Egret Jan 21

As usual, I tried in vain to photograph the trail’s smaller birds. I missed Eastern Bluebirds and Chickadees, White-throated Sparrows and Brown-headed Nuthatches. I missed Pine Warblers and Downy Woodpeckers. The only one I didn’t miss was this wren.

Wren Jan 21

I believe it’s a Carolina Wren, though it was not singing a typical Carolina Wren song.

Wren Jan 21

I’m very curious to hear from more experienced bird watchers. Is this a Carolina Wren? If so, is this a typical call variation?

Now that I’m home and at my computer, I find myself wishing I had stayed out longer. If our forecast holds, the next few days will be too cold for comfort. I will be trapped indoors with a frightening stack of neglected bookkeeping. I might be forced to start another crochet project or organize the archives. Work on an unfinished manuscript. Fake an illness. Anything to avoid starting the taxes…