Wednesday, December 31, 2008

Christmas Bird Count 2008

Pine Warbler in Cherry print

On December 30, 2008 The western part of St. Tammany Parish held its annual Christmas Bird Count. We always try to participate and with 8 hours of observation on our 9 acres and a little of the neighbors' property we did pretty well. We observed and counted 36 different species of birds. We did not see some of the ones that we know live here, but you must only report what you see on the day of the count.

For more information about the birds of winter in South Louisiana, take a look at our lens, The Wings of Winter.

Here is our CBC list:
2 Red-shouldered Hawk
6 Mourning Dove
8 Red-bellied Woodpecker
3 Downy Woodpecker
6 Blue Jay
3 American Crow
9 Carolina Chickadee
7 Tufted Titmouse
4 Brown-headed Nuthatch
7 Carolina Wren
9 Ruby-crowned Kinglet
2 Eastern Bluebird
19 American Robin
1 Northern Mockingbird
2 Brown Thrasher
6 Cedar Waxwing
9 Yellow-rumped (Myrtle) Warbler
7 Pine Warbler
4 Eastern Towhee
5 Chipping Sparrow
9 White-throated Sparrow
11 Northern Cardinal
24 Red-winged Blackbird
8 Common Grackle
29 American Goldfinch
2 Wood Ducks
1 Cattle Egret
1 Great White Egret
7 Pine Siskin
2 Catbird
2 Eastern Phoebee
1 Yellow-bellied Sapsucker
3 White eyed Vireos
4 Black Vulture
3 Pileated Woodpecker
1 Brown Creeper

Sunday, December 14, 2008

Snow in Covington - 12-11-08

December 11, 2008 will go down in weather history as the day that South Louisiana received several inches of snow. The snow began to fall before dawn at about 5:00 a.m. and it continued falling heavily throughout the morning. We received over 4 inches at our house in St. Tammany Parish and the yard looked like it belonged on a Christmas card. The log feeders had to be cleared of snow each hour so that the birds could eat. Soon the heavy snow began to take a toll on the Pine and Water Oak tree branches. They began to break and fall. One fell on the patio, just grazing the edge of the roof while others fell in our road to the river and all over the parish. The electricity went out at about 9:00 a.m. and the phone followed at around 10:00. Our pet cockatiels (that live on the back carport in our winter “greenhouse”) had to be moved into the house so that they wouldn’t get too cold. The fireplace really saved the day and we used the wood from some of the trees that went down during the hurricanes. The snow stayed on the ground for 3 days. We now understand how devastating snow storms can be, but we also are glad that we were able to experience the beautiful sight. The phones were back on in a few hours and our electricity was restored some time during the first night.

What is amazing is the fact that the lettuce, broccoli, turnips, radishes and carrots in our sustainable fall garden and the Satsuma (Citrus) trees, which were heavy with fruit, are relatively unharmed. The snow insulated both the vegetables and the fruit and since it only froze one night, all are still doing fine.

Today we saw Tree Swallows flying over the pond. In most parts of the country, Tree Swallows nest in bluebird boxes, but here in the south, we only see them in flocks during winter. In some places huge flocks will congregate and it’s quite a site to see them spiraling down to their roosting spots at dusk.

Saturday, December 6, 2008

Wild Turkeys and Other Birds

Our friend, John, saw a wild turkey beside our pond near the house. This is the first time we have seen one so close to the house. Maybe they are reproducing and need to spread out. We had seen a group of holes in the yard that looked like they could have been made by a turkey looking for grubs. It looks like we were right about that.

An Eastern Phoebe has also taken up residence around the pond. Each winter one or two of them perches on dead sticks and the bluebird nest box, flicking their tails and hunting for insects. The Birds of Winter are here in our habitat. Birds like the Ruby-crowned Kinglet, Chickadees, Tufted Titmice, Brown-headed Nuthatches and Downy Woodpeckers travel in small groups throughout our habitat. The Ruby-crowned Kinglets love to eat the Poison Oak berries. Yesterday, we saw a Brown Creeper with the mixed flock. This is the first time that we have seen one in our habitat. A small flock of American Goldfinches (like the ones in the photo above with the female Purple Finches and Cardinal) in their fall plumage has arrived. They can really fool the new bird watchers because the fall plumage is so dull compared to the bright yellow of the male’s feathers during breeding.