The Red-breasted Nuthatch is one of our smallest birds here in B.C. at just about 4 or 5in in length. That puts them around the same size as kinglets. However small they are in stature, however, they certainly make up for it by their presence.
I think of them as miniature woodpeckers of a kind. And if you’ve ever heard a nuthatch drumming on a tree like I have, you’ll know they can be surprisingly noisy. The first time I noticed a Red-breasted Nuthatch after hearing it pecking a tree, I felt surprised that something so small could make so much noise!
I went out for a walk a couple weeks ago and paused at the top of the hill to enjoy the view when I saw a hummingbird zipping up high into the air and back down again, landing in the top branches of a small tree. Male Anna’s Hummingbirds display a similar sort of behaviour when attracting a mate; they zip up high into the sky and emit a very loud ‘Squeak!’ before zooming down and around in a great swoop and hovering in the air momentarily, their wings flapping so furiously they are a blur. Then they display their fabulously bright gorget at females to entice them (see photo below).
I watched this beautiful bird at the beach the other day – a Greater Yellowlegs. He flew in from the south and landed right in front of me on the beach, apparently unperturbed by my presence. Usually, when I’ve seen these birds, they are somewhat skittish and wary of noises and people, typically flying away if approached. In fact, the Seattle Audubon states they are “often the first species to sound an alarm when a perceived threat approaches” and are more shy than other shorebirds.
I’ve had a ‘feather-ful’ new year so far; with time off work, its easier to get out and go for a walk see the birds. It was a gusty and cold but sunny day today and I was rewarded for my efforts with my first new bird of the year! And its only January 2nd! While I am not a big “lister” (in fact, my ebird account often collects dust…), I’m always excited to meet new birdies. Today’s star was the Ruby-Crowned Kinglet and is, in fact, my first ever kinglet.
There’s a chatty little bird that chirps noisily as he hops around among the brush. He has a distinct, bright white eye stripe and a tail he holds aloft and flicks back and forth. His name is the Bewick’s Wren and he’s been a regular visitor over the last few months. Now I don’t know if he’s the same one or not, but I do think it could be; he is hopping along the same tree and the bushes every time I see him. I like to think its his established territory.
On a lovely summer evening last week, I went for a walk in a nearby park and had quite a pleasant surprise. Amid the heavy foliage, I saw a large bird swoop down from the trees across the path before me. I heard them before I saw them: a pair of Barred Owls.