An Empty Nest
Backyard Birding...And Beyond
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3d ago
Once again, things have changed. On Tuesday, June 11, I watched as the house wren parents flew to the box. But I soon realized there was only one chick. That chick had learned very quickly that if it stayed by the opening, it would get the food. When it went back inside the box I did not see multiple bodies moving around. I had figured there were two. Now there was one. As I watched, the chick leaned so far out of the box I feared it would fall and be snatched up by a predator. It was not only eager for food, it looked like it was eager to investigate the world beyond the nest. This chick had ..read more
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A Not-So-Quiet Time in the Yard
Backyard Birding...And Beyond
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1w ago
Now that it is June there is very little birdsong at dawn. Birds have already set their territories and picked a mate. It is the time to build a nest, lay some eggs and wait for the eggs to hatch. Then the brooding and feeding begins. The house wrens using the box I hung in the dogwood tree are busy feeding their young. It has been interesting to watch from my enclosed porch. Both Mom and Dad fly to the box with an insect in their bills but feed the young differently. Dad stays outside the box and feeds whichever chick has pushed its way to the opening, then he flies off for more food. Mom mor ..read more
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Birding With Merlin
Backyard Birding...And Beyond
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1w ago
It's always nice when I can go birding with my husband (MH) or with friends. The more eyes and ears to find and identify the birds, the better. But what if the friend coming along isn't human? Merlin home screen (Margo D. Beller) So it was that MH and I recently traveled with the free Merlin app, provided by the birding experts at Cornell University's Ornithology Lab. Merlin is the name of a falcon, halfway in size between the small American kestrel and the larger peregrine falcon. It is also one of the names, depending on whose legend you're reading, given to the wizard who ..read more
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Something Is Happening
Backyard Birding...And Beyond
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1M ago
One early morning, a female downy woodpecker, the smallest type found in the U.S., climbed up the dogwood tree as she has done for months. She looked over at the suet feeder hanging on the nearby pole. She calculated the distance as she prepared to fly over and expertly turn upside down to get at the suet. (The feeder is designed specifically for woodpeckers. See photo below.) But on a recent May morning as she climbed the tree she found a small, wooden structure. As she came close to it, a small, brown bird flew out from the nearby bush and attacked her. She spread her wings to make herself l ..read more
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A Day In the Life of H. Wren
Backyard Birding...And Beyond
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1M ago
About 10 days from the end of April, I read several reports of house wrens returning to areas of New Jersey close, as the wren flies, to where I live. I had been avidly awaiting this news for weeks. Two days later, with my husband steadying the ladder, I hung the nest box in the dogwood tree, which had beat the odds and come back to flowering life after I had the dead wood removed. The nest box in the dogwood (Margo D. Beller) Hanging a nest is an annual ritual. It started when a friend gave me a small, decorative bird house that I hung in one of the apple trees. It soo ..read more
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Catching Up (Again)
Backyard Birding...And Beyond
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1M ago
It has been over two months since my last blog post because it is only now, with the rain coming down as I write, that I can sit still and try to make sense of the annual madness known as birding during spring migration.  In late April the unusual warmth prompted the cherry blossoms at Greystone to open. (Margo D. Beller) Phoebes, redwinged blackbirds and chipping sparrows were among the early birds I found in such places as Greystone. The crowd of juncos that mobbed my feeders over the winter and roosted in Spruce, to his annoyance, disappeared as soon as winter's north winds w ..read more
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March Madness (Margo's Version)
Backyard Birding...And Beyond
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3M ago
March Madness means different things to different people. For most, it means collegiate basketball. For me, it is the start of the spring cleaning period when I must get my garden cleared of leaves, pods and other winter debris before the bulk of the flowers start blooming. This year, however, was especially mad because instead of mid-month the unusual February warmth started the daffodils in my front yard blooming two weeks early and the plants were surrounded by, or growing through, leaves. Another problem: Periods of rain expected in the coming days meant I had only two consecutive dry days ..read more
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Oh, Deer!
Backyard Birding...And Beyond
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3M ago
My brother-in-law lives in a rural part of New Hampshire. When we visit in winter his feeders draw a number of birds. Winter can be harsh up there, climate change notwithstanding. Sometimes the feeders draw something unusual - common redpolls or a flock of wild turkeys, for instance. (Margo D. Beller) Recently he announced the feeders had drawn something really unusual, at least to his yard - deer. Welcome to my world. In the past, hunting or natural predators have been very efficient in keeping down the deer population in his area. But now there are more homes being built on his road ..read more
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Leap Day Thoughts
Backyard Birding...And Beyond
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3M ago
One year ago, on February 28, 2023, the last day of meteorological winter, my area of New Jersey got significant snow for the first time all season, so much snow that Spruce Bringsgreen got a thick white coat. First daffodils, Feb. 29, 2024 (Margo D. Beller) Yesterday, February 28, 2024, the temperature in my area came close to 60 degrees Fahrenheit for the second time this month. February is usually the coldest month of the winter. After the first very warm day a few weeks before, the early flowers - snowdrops and crocus - in my yard came up and the flowers were close to op ..read more
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The Study of Nature
Backyard Birding...And Beyond
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5M ago
Do schools teach earth science anymore? Is there discussion in the classroom about nature and all the things one sees when outdoors? "Anna Botsford Comstock 1854-1930" by USDAgov is licensed under CC BY 2.0. Nowadays, it seems we hear more about what CAN'T be taught in schools or what should not be allowed to be taught in schools than about what IS taught in schools. (I am not a teacher and do not have children, so I don't know.) During the administration of George W. Bush, in 2002, the U.S. enacted the "No Child Left Behind" law. At that time Bush was quoted as saying ..read more
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