[Tweeters] Changing Yard Birds

jeff gibson gibsondesign at msn.com
Tue Jan 22 10:53:28 PST 2013

In my yard (urban North Everett), 2012 was the "Year of the Coo-Coo". Coo-Coo is my nickname for Eurasian Collared Dove's which finally arrived on my city block this last Summer. There was a pair ( or two anyway ) here all season. Early in the morning they'd start in with their repetitive cooing, which reminds me of cuckoo clock somewhat. Don't set your watch by a Coo-Coo clock though, because they can't seem stick to a single time; it could be 1,2, or 5 o'clock at any given moment. Coo-Coo's are loud!
I can hear them quite clearly inside my house. They make a nice wake up call if you don't get up too early. In late September ten of them showed up in the trees near the house one day. Wonder what 2013 will bring.

Some other changes in my yard birds are also interesting. In the past two years the number of House Finches has really dropped in my immediate neighborhood. Typically the primary neighborhood songster, and bird feeder attendant here at my place, there were none here at my house last year. Maybe because I didn't have my single feeder going last year, but that wouldn't account for the previous year. My empty feeder started out as simple procrastination, extended by economic hard times. I then decided the empty feeder could be a political statement like, "what kind of welfare state you think we got going here birds! Get a real job!". Finally I decided the whole thing could be a citizen science project - you know, to see the difference in bird populations in my yard with and without a feeder. Alas I am a slacker as a scientist and didn't really keep track of numbers. It does seem like the feeder bird's might be like a permanent "feeding flock', attracting more birds, even if they don't use the feeder. In the feeder-less year the numbers of birds were more variable, as there were more birds when natural "bird organized" feeding flocks of mixed species moved through. That whole safety in numbers thing.

While House Finches remain scarce, Dark-eyed Juncos have taken over my place. They are the single most abundant bird in my yard this year. I lived in this house for seven years before I ever saw a Junco here, which I always thought a bit strange. Since 2008 there has always been a few around, very few, and two Summers ago they even were around in Summer, which they usually weren't before. Now I easily see a dozen or more everyday here.

Interesting how things change.

"If you can awaken
inside the familiar
and discover it strange
you need never leave home."

(from 'Braided Creek; a conversation in poetry' by Jim Harrison and Ted Kooser)

Jeff Gibson
at home in
Everett Wa

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