Sunday, February 22, 2009

Bird Watching Adventures

I know that I need to do another Open House report, but I thought I'd take the time to do one now on the birdwatching we've been doing for the past few weeks.

We read about the Great Backyard Bird Count on Sonja's blog and decided to participate. We went out and bought some bird feeders, but haven't attracted as many as we wanted--perhaps because our backyard is under construction and resembles a massive mudpit with all the rain we've been having. However, anytime the boys spotted a bird in the yard for the two weeks leading up to the GBBC, they got so excited.

We did spot these Pine Siskins in our lavender bush on the morning of the first day of the GBBC (the only day that wasn't raining buckets.) We counted 12 of them in the lavender and in our big tree in the front.
Since we weren't having great luck finding birds in our own backyard, plus it was the only day that week that wasn't rainy, we took a family birdwatching walk to a local park that has wetlands and bike trails throughout scrub oaks and fields. The weather conditions were not ideal--the wind was quite chilly and we wished we'd worn more layers-- and we noticed that not as many birds were out as we usually see there. However, we did spy some species that we were able to identify using our bird field guides, which was exciting:
Great Egrets

Canada Geese
Red Shouldered Hawk (we think)

An entire family of Mallards. You can't see all of them, but we counted 14.

This week, even though the GBBC was over, we studied the wild turkey. We looked in all of our field guides and bird books, then went to the internet to learn more. We have started working on our own field guides thanks to a Dover/Audobon Society coloring book I found this week, so Kimball and Henry took great care to color their turkeys accurately. Then, on Friday, we went to a place that I was sure we'd see wild turkeys-- Temple Hill. Near the Sacramento Temple is a huge oak grove as well as many acres of wild shrubs. I nearly always see turkey and deer when Jared & I go to the temple; we sometimes run across wild turkeys in the neighborhood here, but nothing so consistent that we could go find them when we wanted to.

We were rewarded. As we drove up, we came to a flock of about 15 turkeys who were just on the edge of the temple grounds. We stopped the car and looked at them, took some pictures, and noticed how they varied in color from some that we had seen on the internet and in our books. A few of the toms actually raised their tail feathers for us, which was a treat. Afterwards, we parked the car and wandered around the oak grove, hoping that the turkeys would come back. They did not, but we did observe lots of American Robins. We sat quietly and talked about the temple for a few minutes, sang a few songs, and then took a mostly reverent walk around the actual gated temple grounds. On the way out, we spotted a doe and fawn grazing together.

It was a very special little outing and I was grateful to have done it--the morning hadn't started off well and I was not feeling much like taking them anywhere, but it paid off.