24 May 2011

Seeing Red

There's been a lot of traffic on the trunks of the black cottonwoods outside my window. Seems like everyone's wearing red today.

There's the male Robin who was driving the whippets crazy a couple of weeks ago. He finally stopped attacking the bird reflected in the kitchen window, found a mate, and built a nest in one of the trees on the west side of the house. They've been a pretty constant presence, busily doing the baby bird thing.

A Red-breasted nuthatch put in an appearance. I haven't seen (or heard) them around here much before. Their red breast is more of a pale rusty color, but whatever. They're very handsome little birds, and they have at least as good a claim to a red breast as a Robin, whose breast is more of an orangey brown. Or maybe a brownish orange.

Then there was a Red-breasted sapsucker, a bird I don't remember ever seeing before although I don't know why not, because they're common enough around here. Now that's red, sure enough – candy apple red – but you don't notice it on his breast so much as all over his head. I guess the name "red-headed woodpecker" was already taken.

The Hairy woodpecker who showed up to work over a gnarly bit of trunk is a fairly regular visitor. It was the female this time so she didn't actually have any red on her, but a male would have some.

Ditto for the female Anna's hummingbird who has been around from time to time lately. A male Anna's would have some serious red.

Makes me want to go put on my University of Georgia T-shirt, the one that says "Junkyard Dogs." I bought it 33 years ago when I was in Athens for an American Society of Mammalogists meeting. I'm pretty sure I still have it – I don't turn my closet over very often, I guess. It's old, but it's very red.

It would be a good day for one of our Pileated woodpeckers to stop by. I haven't seen one, but the day's not over yet.

(I wish I had great photos of all these guys, but I don't. I don't even have not-great photos. The best I can do is to send you to All About Birds. Lame, I know. Sorry.)

Maybe tomorrow will be chestnut day. There's the Rufous-sided towhee who has been picking disgusting looking things out of the leaf detritus on top of the shed, and the Chestnut-backed chickadee, my new favorite bird of all time. On a scale of cute from 1 to 10, they're an 11. And maybe a Rufous hummingbird. It could happen.

You've got to get excited about the little things, don't you know.


  1. Wow, you sure have a plethora of different birds around your place. I get excited when I see a cardinal...so there you have it!

  2. I love the red birds! whatever they are, woodpeckers are nice though to see

  3. Quite a serious variety of red birds. I saw a red-breasted sapsucker around here the other day -- quite striking. And, towhees are funny to watch I think. So, it's the Anna's hummingbird that's almost flourescent red/pink? Saw something like that a few weeks ago.

    Anyway, glad you've got some action outside your window.


  4. Wish we had such plethora of birds outside! Red is predominately not worn by birds here- well ok maybe birds of a different feather.

    I feel the need for a trip to wildlife refuge in the future umm ....


  5. We have our own varieties here on the East Coast, but not quite as much red! There's the robin of course -- at my mother's nursing home, they make nests each year. The cardinals are plentiful, but that's it for the red team. All the others are gray, brown, white combos.