The first week of 2016 has certainly been eventful! We have had 25 species of birds including 4 uncommon winter residents, one of which was the first warbler of the year. How does one know which birds belong here and when, which are common and which are rare? Get a copy of the annotated checklist of Missouri Birds - I keep one in a binder for handy reference. You can download it from the Audubon Society of Missouri website:
The checklist is in a spreadsheet format and I've added columns to mine for "Yard Birds", "Bubbler Birds", "Pond Birds" and "Nesters" so that I can keep count.
So, the uncommon winter birds this first week have been the Purple Finch, Yellow-bellied Sapsucker (two males and a female), two Brown Creepers and a Yellow-rumped Warbler who drank at the pond early on Monday.
There were a couple days when birds were very skittish because a Coopers Hawk was patrolling the neighborhood. We were returning home after a walk on Sunday when Dan spotted the hawk with its meal of Mourning Dove. What a pile of feathers.
One thing we do to give the birds more cover from the hawks is to recycle Christmas trees and stake them in the woods near the feeders there.
We've been seeing several species in them during the day, including White-throated Sparrows.
Bird activity has picked up again and today the birds were staging from the Buttonbushes to get to one of the bird feeders near the garden.
Dark-eyed Juncos and White-throated Sparrows are common birds here in winter. This junco was eating Cliff Goldenrod seeds near the pond.
Other animals have been active, too. It is breeding season for gray squirrels and prime real estate for nesting is often contested.
For some time now, I thought we had two red foxes, but had never seen them together. Today, we checked the game camera and found these three images of them mating! This was the biggest New Year's surprise of all!