Steve White’s Animaux

My co-workers and I sometimes take walks. We see lots of common birds, such as the Goldfinch and the Red-winged Blackbird

Lately, we’ve been walking around the Black River Riparian Forest (or what little is left of it—light industry is encroaching from all sides). We’ve seen a nesting site of the Great Blue Heron, Steller’s Jays, and a pair of Cedar Waxwings.

Our walks are often graced by little flocks of Bushtits trickling through the brambles.

Recently we saw a Bald Eagle being worried by a couple hundred Northwestern Crows. When the eagle was at a safe distance, the crows came back and started worrying us. Once they get their dander up…

Here’s what else I’ve seen crows doing: crow activity.

For months, a stupid white-rumped bird has been eluding my observation…it would be in the path and see us coming around a corner, and be off in a flicker. As it turns out, this should have been a clue, because it is a Northern Flicker, a large, common woodpecker hereabouts. They like to forage for bugs on the ground, where we saw them, but don’t much like people.

Now that it’s gotten cold, some ducks have come to winter in our pond. We see Buffleheads every day, and lately, a few Green-Winged Teals. We’ve also seen some less flashy quackers, the Gadwall.

The winter migrations are well under way now. The little pond is at least a resting-place for hundreds of ducks and other water-friendly-fowl.

The most gaudy duck we’ve seen is the Hooded Merganser. The Northern Shoveler looks huge, but the effect is partly due to the size of its bill. We saw Scaups, but we’re not sure if they’re Greater or Lesser. There have been Pied-billed Grebes about, as well as Ring-Necked Duck. American Wigeons are very common here now. I’ve seen them in ponds and at the sea front. A Downy Woodpecker surprised us on the way back from the pond once. We had to team up to get it to come around the tree it was sitting on so we could look at it.