Monthly Archives: April 2015

Northern Shovelers Courtship Ritual (Video)

On my last trip to Nisqually National Wildlife Refuge, I took this video of Northern Shovelers doing a courtship ritual.  I wouldn’t call it a dance.. It was more like a ritual feeding where they swam in circles with their beaks underwater.  Northern Shovelers are dabbling ducks with wide bills.  Their coloration reminds me of Mallards, but their spoon shaped bills is a big difference.

I just did some research and watched a few other videos, and apparently this really is part of their dance.  These birds are common all across the United States.  Here’s a video that someone took of them in Central Park, New York:

And this video from Whalon Lake has really good footage of the male’s display with wing flaps:

Day 5 of Nest Building for Mother Black-Capped Chickadee

The adventure continues!  The mom brought small twigs and white fluffy material to her nest today.  Also she found some red stuff that we couldn’t recognize.  She likes to stop near her bird house and always looks around before going in.  When she sees me, a “human,” watching she waits until I look away before quickly flying into the birdhouse.

Black Capped Chickadee with Soft White Nesting Material

Black Capped Chickadee with Soft White Nesting Material


Black-capped Chickadee with White Fluffy Nesting Material


UPDATE:  It took about a week for them to complete their nest.  Then it was quiet for a couple of weeks while the parent incubated her eggs and the other parent stood guard.  Then the feedings began.

Spring Happenings in Backyard Birding

It’s been Spring for over 3 weeks now.  The birds are singing.  The Maple trees are getting their leaves and the tulips are blooming.  Yes, already.  Spring comes early to Western Washington State (Tacoma area).    In fact, some Rhododendrans are already blossoming!  The temperatures have been swinging from sub-40 nights to 60+ days.

Red Breasted Nuthatch

We’ve had lots of Red-Breasted Nuthatches today!  They enjoy suet and seeds.  They are small, quick, & swift birds with short tails and a strong sold eye stripe.


Stellar Jay


It’s peanut time at least twice a day!  These Stellar Jays are so smart and with repeated daily feedings, they have become quite friendly too.  We throw whole shelled peanuts on to the patio for them.  Sometimes they try to get our attention by walking on our shed roof, which we can see from the living room window.




We have these beautiful house finches at our feeders every day!  They are polite visitors as they never throw bird seed (I’m looking at you, Pine Siskin).


American Goldfinch


We had our first sighting of an American Goldfinch this season.  Last year, they stayed through the end of Autumn.  This isn’t the best photo ever, but it’s my record of having seen him!


Pine Siskin – Is this a fledgling?

Pine Siskin

It’s mid-April, which would seem way too early for a fledgling.  However, there was a small bird feeder on my patio, under my bird feeder, that did not fly away when I approached it.  I took a couple of photos of it.  It looks like it has some extra fur on it like I imagine a baby bird would, but my husband suggests that maybe it is just an old bird that’s puffed up to stay warm.

What do you think?  Is this bird young, or old?  I hope he or she is OK.  I checked later and it was no longer there.

Pine Siskin


Nest Making Time for Black-Capped Chickadee in Tacoma, Washington

Chickadee on Nest Box

Black-Capped Chickadee Looking in His Home

Success!  We have Chickaddees making a nest!

Here’s what’s happened so far:

April 9, 2015  

A Black-Capped Chickadee “inspected” the bird house, flying in and out of it at least a dozen times, and looking all around it, above it, next to it, etc.  The bird house is attached to our shed. There is a gap at the top of the shed door, and the chickadee even stuck its little head in and looked into the shed.  Then later that day, he brought by another chickadee to show it his home.  I can’t tell female from male, so maybe it was her showing him… I don’t know which.

April 10 – April 11, 2015

Black-Capped Chickadee(s) are getting territorial over their new man-made home!  The chickadee attacked a downy woodpecker that was eating at a nearby suet feeder.    We usually only see one chickadee at a time so it’s hard to know if one is staying in the house all of the time or not.  We also saw other Chickadees checking out another nearby nesting box.

April 12, 2015 

The chickadees started bringing nesting material.  It looks like they are using some moss and some red flower petals!  Maybe some dog fur from next door too.  I can’t tell if they are sharing in building the nest, but it appears that while one is out getting nest material, the other stands near the nest, guarding it.

April 15, 2015

The Chickadees continue to bring nesting material to their bird house.  They carry lots of green material in their bill, which may have been moss or grass.  I also saw them picking at our porch carpet.  One time it looked like they found dog fur.  I tried to get photos of them building their nest, but I was not patient enough and just got the above photo of the chickadee on the outside of the nesting box.   When the Chickadee wasn’t busy getting nesting material,  she would stand nearby, acting as a sentry, guarding the box and occasionally scaring off other birds. We moved the suet feeder farther away so that it wouldn’t be so close to the nest.

We are very excited because this is the first time we’ve had any birds use our bird house!!