Along the Natchez Trace

Friday, April 6, 2012

Birding by Ear...

Hola!  We got our usual wake-up call this morning.  Just around 5am the nut shells start falling onto the roof of the house we've rented.  I know that either (or both) the squirrels or the parrots are up there having breakfast.  

We've seen both the White fronted parrot and the White-crowned parrot here.  They come early in the morning and have a good time grabbing these nuts...  eating them and dropping the shells.

I have never been very good at birding by ear.  Sure, I can tell "Ohio" birds when I hear them, but I've just never mastered that talent with "new" birds.  A few years ago we were volunteering at a NWR in Maine, and there was another volunteer who did bird surveys...  early in the morning.  I do mean EARLY!  Before daylight, we'd go out in the truck to specific spots and stop.  All is quiet...  right?  Nope... Linda would say to me (I was the scribe and recorded the information)...  3 white-crowned sparrow....  2 flycatchers....  1 vireo (red-eyed)...  1 rose-breasted grosbeak...  and on and on.  I dutifully wrote this down.  I mean to tell you...  Linda was GOOD!  She could hear...  and know...  every call.

One of the species of hummingbirds in the big tree outside our house.

Later on that day, Linda & I were driving around checking water levels or some such task, and I saw a Rose-breasted grosbeak.  Linda got all excited...  asked where, where?  I pointed it out...  Linda proceeded to tell me that this was the first Rose-breasted grosbeak she'd ever seen.

I was astounded!  I mean...  here's this fantastic birder....  but she knows the birds by their sound, but hasn't seen what to me is a common bird.  

We have the scarlet tanager and the Flame-colored tanager here.  Sometimes you see them both at the same time and then it's really easy to see the difference.

I hope to work with Linda again someday....  I learned a lot from her...  but most of all, really appreciated her willingness to share her knowledge.

I have some hearing loss at the lower sound levels (at least that's the excuse I use when I ask Bill to repeat everything)...  so I don't stand a chance learning to bird by sound at this stage in my life.

We put up a hummingbird feeder a couple of days ago...  we're finally getting some takers...  I believe this is a Rufous-tail hummingbird....  And yes, I can hear them when they buzz through.

Last evening we were absolutely dazzled by this bird...

Toucan?  Similar...  but it's a Fiery-billed Aracari.

He hung around long enough for me to snap a few pictures...  even though the bottom one is kind of blurry, you can still see the brilliant colors.

There are several fly-catchers and kingbirds here, as well as the kiskadee.  

There are orioles, warblers, and all species of birds in that big tree that hangs over our house.  But in the woods just below us, this was our treat of today...

A pair of Keel-billed toucans flew in just below us and danced around in the trees for several minutes before moving on.

Can you see how colorful the bill is?  And the red rump?  What a sight!

All these pictures were taken either from our porch or standing in the yard or on the sidewalk beside the house.  We have a wonderful view just sitting around enjoying life.

I had cataracts removed from both eyes in the past few years and really can see things clearer and "brighter" now.  The gift of sight is a wonderful gift indeed!

Now...  about birding by ear....

Forget it!

That's all for Today....


  1. Love the bird photos. I'd find it very hard to leave a place like that.

  2. Wow! Those are some impressive bird-watching pics there! I also have seen only one rose-breasted grosbeak in my life. It was back in the 70's and my family and I were camping in Maplewood State Park in northern Minnesota. It was primitive and I was standing outside the outhouse waiting for my daughter when I heard a crashing overhead. All of a sudden, the grosbeak landed on the ground a few feet from me. I stood there in awe as it looked around for a few seconds and then flew away. I wish I could travel and see more amazing bird life!

  3. So glad to meet you and your beautiful photographs. So, where are you these days?

  4. Great bird photos! About the only small birds I can name are Robins and Sparrows!

  5. Very cool to see so many exotic birds! Thanks for sharing them.

  6. Your posts take me back to the amazing birdlife of Costa Rica. It would be so wonderful to be able to stay as long as you are and to really get to know the birds. Love the toucans!

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