Tuesday, December 7, 2010

Who Let The Birds Out?

I was out with the dogs this morning and coming back to the house, noticed a large number of birds in the apple trees in my yard.  I quickly put the dogs in the house, apologized for not feeding them breakfast and grabbed my binoculars.  I'm glad I did!  Ten house finches were huddled among the top branches of  an apple tree.  Then I  spotted three juncos flicking through leaf litter by the garden shed.  There were a lot of birds in the privet hedge in my neighbor's yard and on closer inspection I saw half a dozen robins and the same number of cedar waxwings.  They were eating the purple privet berries.  I was able to get a great look at the waxwings and noted their yellow tail tips.  This mixed group then came into my yard and hung out in the apple trees.  Twenty-five starlings swooped into the maple tree in front of the house- I know because I was counting .  It just so happened to be a feeder watch day so I was very excited and noting every bird I saw.  Two hairy woodpeckers, one downy woodpecker, a chickadee, a tufted titmouse, and white breasted nuthatch all visited the feeders or yard.  Wow!  Who let the birds out?  Last week's feeder watch results were four house sparrows.  I'm eager to see what goes on tomorrow.

Wednesday, December 1, 2010

Out and About: Round Lake Nature Notes December, 2010

      Trying to work off Thanksgiving pie or making room for holiday cookies? Join me for a stroll around town to check out a few interesting spots and burn off a calorie or two.  Starting on the tennis courts, face north and walk towards the largest tree on the other side of the fence. Look at the main trunk and follow it up and you’ll see a lot of woodpecker holes.  The lower oval ones are made by Pileated Woodpeckers.  The upper round holes are dug by Red-bellied Woodpeckers.  Many days I hear these birds in this area and sometimes see them busy at work.
    Now we’ll walk up Curvy Hill (Covel Avenue).  Right before Covel curves to the right, look to the left and check out the dead tree. It looks like it’s being carved into a dugout canoe.  It’s the impressive work of Pileated Woodpeckers.   Take a couple more steps and on the left side of the road is another tree.  It has no bark and is peppered with holes.  It’s a great condominium for birds that stay the winter.  Continue walking along Prospect Avenue and enjoy the views of the lake.  When passing Schoolhouse Park, note the natural cavities in the large oak and maple trees.  I’ve seen squirrels, chipmunks, bees and wood ducks use these.  I’m hoping to see an owl tucked in one.
    At Andrews Avenue take a right and walk all the way down to Peck Avenue. You can see what birds are visiting the feeders or hiding in the hedges along the way.  Once at the Peck Avenue sign, turn left towards the woods.  Enter the woods, on the path, and step over the first fallen tree.  Keep walking and step over the second fallen tree.  Walk about five steps and stop.  Look to your left and find a white pine with eight holes, a couple of which look freshly dug.  Who might be living there?   You can continue on the trail through this stand of pines.  Notice that there are white pines with dark, vertically ridged bark.  There are also red pines with red paper-like bark.  Before you reach the third downed tree you can veer to the right on a faint trail. This will bring you out on the Zim Smith trail.
    Take a right to go back towards the village.  On either side of the trail there are small white and red pine trees.  You can reach the needles to count bundles of five needles for the white and bundles of two for the red pines.  As you walk along the trail and pass the cut through to Washington Avenue, look for the abundance of wild grapes wrapped around the trees on the left side.  You may see birds snacking on them.  One day two Pileated Woodpeckers were hanging on the vines feasting. 
    Now you’re on your own.  I hope you enjoyed the walk.  Let me know what you saw.  Leave a comment on Roundlakenaturenotes.blogspot.com!