Daily Archives: March 8, 2009

American Bird Identification

Jan and I have been trying to identify a bird she has seen in North Carolina.  Can you help  she says –

I’ve looked at a lot of pictures of sparrows and warbles; the body type seems right but none have a body as dark as the one of my deck.

Please read what she says below and get your thinking hat on!

From Jan –

Since posting my comment I’ve done a little research on the internet and found that several small birds have white outer tail feathers, including the vesper sparrow and some warbles.

I’ve looked at a lot of pictures of sparrows and warbles; the body type seems right but none have a body as dark as the one of my deck.

I realize the time of year as well as age and sex of the bird may determine feather color, so this identification is turning out to be complex.

Think the bird has come back to my deck a few times today but I have only caught fleeting glances. Usually I only have a bird bath available but for the last three days have put out a bird feeding mix of seeds.

Got the seeds from two young girls who went door to door in our neighbor (under their grandmother’s supervision) giving out the mix when we had an unusual snow of about 3 inches (7.6cm) the other day. Great activity for children, don’t you think? This little bird seems to like the mix.

BTW, forgot to say that NC stands for North Carolina which is a state on the east coast of the United States of America


I have had a look on the internet, but it’s hard for me as I’m in England. 

I have only been to the USA once.  It was the trip of a lifetime.  I visited North Carolina and Florida.  In North Carolina we went to stop with my friend’s pen pal who lived in Elk Park.  It was wonderful to stop with a family and see that part of America.

 Hope we can all get together with bird identification and help sort this puzzle out.

Walking with a wild bird

I remember clearly a walk I had last February. We had a dog then, sadly the dog had to be put down last year.

I was walking on the path and I saw a small bird hopping about in the early morning gloom.   

Early morning, when the night is entwined with the day, is a strange time.  A time when the wild world is with us and nature is part of us.

I didn’t know then that this moment was going to stay with me as then it was just an ordinary walk

I  was walking towards this bird when it started walking towards me.  The dog was messing about.  

I thought this small bird on the ground would fly away because either me or the dog would frighten it. 

We kept walking towards each other, the bird and I. 

It was like something from the OK Corral!

Closer, closer.  When we were close to each other and ‘facing’ each other  we both stopped walking.

I looked down at the bird that was the size of a pebble at my feet.  

The small, tiny bird  looked up at me.  It’s small black eyes seemed to meet mine.  It was a strange moment

I was mesmerised seeing this small bird in extreme close up.  

The tiny, frail bird  was aware I was there and was not frightened. 

I was a few inches away  and I really wanted to know what type of bird it was so I bent down knowing I would frighten it away.  The bird wasn’t afraid and it didn’t move.  It kept looking up at me with black unblinking eyes.   In the half light I  saw

  • The bird’s beak was turned upwards
  • its feet firmly planted on the ground
  • It showed no fear
  • I watched mesmerised as it hopped away, caught a worm, ate it and then
  • hopped back to me

The dog was somewhere sniffing about in the grass.

The bird ignored the dog.  

The dog ignored the bird.

I didn’t speak, the dog didn’t bark and the bird didn’t sing.  All was silence.

This couldn’t go on. 

It was a gloomy morning and I’d never actually been close enough to look down on a bird before from this angle.

I’d never actually seen a bird as this angle before – looking directly down onto it.

In the half light I saw soft, red breast feathers being ruffled by the breeze.

Robin redbreast

A vivid moment.  A vivid memory. Is this what birds are about. 

Ordinary ‘birdy’ moments stay with us as well, such as walking to the shop for the newspaper and a bird sings in the hedge.  Coming back with the shopping and we hear birdsong

I seem to have robins at my bird feeders all the time at the moment so I’m glad they feel ‘at home’ here.  Sometimes I really feel like I run a Cafe for Birds and I have my regular customers who know me.  Such nonsense.

This memory is a nice memory different to the one I have of when I found the soft, sad feathers of a robin that had been killed by our stray cat.

It seems robins pair up as early as December.  The hen builds a nest low and throughout incubation of the eggs the hen is fed by the cock robin.

A robin’s favourite food on the birdtable is crumbs, mealworms and cheese, but there are many good seed mixes especially for robins that can be fed on the bird table.  It’s easy to buy a packet and feed the robin.