Thursday, January 3, 2013

Oatka Creek Park • January 3

Hairy Woodpecker. It was a cold and snowy morning in Oatka today. As I approached the creek from the south, I could hear a good sized mixed flock approaching and heading north in the same direction I was going. What luck! I quicken my pace, crossed the bridge and planted myself in the path of flock on the northern bank. Sure enough the birds descended onto the trees all around me and began foraging for food. This woodpecker was one of the members.

Hairy Woodpecker. Usually Hairies are very vocal and would be raising an alarm in response to my presence for minutes. However, this particular bird was focused on finding food and keeping up with the flock, so it didn't really make too many sounds.

White-breasted Nuthatch. There were at least two nuthatches in the flock and they were constantly making their nasal sounding calls. Tons of chickadees and a few titmice were included, too, as would be expected.

Brown Creeper. However, what caught my attention at the very beginning when I first heard the approaching flock were the calls and songs of more than one Brown Creeper. Sure enough, as I surveyed the composition of the flock on the northern bank, I found at least three Brown Creepers.

Brown Creeper. Yes, mixed in will all the calls, there were several abbreviated sequences of rising song notes from the creepers. The chickadees added a few quick "fee-bee"s, too. A couple of days ago there were the brief winter songs of titmice and nuthatches along the creek. As with nearly all winter birdsongs, these were all short and mostly softer than the full springtime repertoire. Of course, the Carolina Wrens have been singing without regard to time of year and they don't have a "soft" song setting, so there's no mistaking what one is hearing there! Still, the wren songs are, at least, winter abbreviated.

Northern Mockingbird. Our "crossbill" mockingbird is still around, defending its winter food supply. Note the snowflake on its eye. (You can always click on a picture for a larger version.) It was not there in earlier shots. In some shots you can see the nictitating membrane (third eyelid) wiping across the eye to move the snowflake. 

Northern Mockingbird. The snowflake is moving, but slowly! Interestingly, it is not melting right away, either. Also, note the bird is perched on only one leg. You can just see ends of the talons of the other foot tucked up against its breast for warmth.