Mid-Atlantic Bird Watching - Winter 2012-2013

Fredericksburg, VA(Zone 7a)

Hello all!

A "little bird" asked if I would start a new thread in the Mid-Atlantic forum... just for bird watching for the upcoming winter season!
I am happy to start such a thread, and share with you some of the little birds that visit our family...
but I do hope you will participate and share your photos and stories as well!

The last bird watching thread, which we are coming from is here... http://davesgarden.com/community/forums/t/1186472/

Some of you know me, and some don't... I see so many new names in the forums that I am unfamiliar with.
I enjoy gardening and photography, and like to combine the two to share with others.
What many do not understand, is that I don't even have a yard! (As much as I dream of having one again!)
My husband and I live in a third floor apartment, with a 6x12 blacony that faces the woods!
We feed and water the birds year-round and get a phenomenal number of visitors every day!
While I do go to other places to shoot birds and wildlife, so many of the photos you see of mine are shot through the sliding door of our humble home!
We have special birds that I can tell stories about...
like Rumpus, the Carolina Wren without tail feathers (still a visitor)...
and Grace, the female Cardinal with a deformed beak.
And sometimes we get other visitors too!

I hope you will follow along, enjoy our visitors as much as we do...
and I do hope you will add your stories and birds too!
Please feel free to ask questions, and to offer suggestions...
on feeding, ID, anything at all!

Thanks for looking...
I hope each and every one has a blessed day...
and finds some peace and contentment in watching God's little creatures, just as I do!


Thumbnail by VA_Wild_Rose
Fredericksburg, VA(Zone 7a)

For identification purposes, here are a couple of good websites for finding out
"just what bird is that???"


Also, DG's very own BirdFiles is a great source!

And one more option is DG's Bird Identification forum...
If all you can do is offer a photo, someone here is always able to ID it for you!

This message was edited Nov 23, 2012 3:35 PM

Fredericksburg, VA(Zone 7a)

Here are some links to slideshows of some of the birds I have captured from our balcony in past years...
You may even see a familiar photo or two!

Fall/Winter 2011-2012

Summer 2011

Fall/Winter 2010-2011 (includes the beginning of the story of Rumpus)

Fredericksburg, VA(Zone 7a)

I will post some from this past summer a bit later...

Thanks again for looking and joining us!

Thanks to the "little bird" that encouraged me to start this thread!

Anne Arundel,, MD(Zone 7b)

Thank you Karen!

Salem Cnty, NJ(Zone 7b)


annapolis, MD(Zone 7b)

Karen, I'm thrilled that you are doing this!

I had no idea that you don't have a yard. In my mind's eye you live in an old growth forest near the river with some meadow across the lane...very nature reservy.

And, thanks for listing some ID links, too. Looking forward to checking in and participating and pics much better than my phone can capture.

Fredericksburg, VA(Zone 7a)

Ha ha Judy! You described exactly what I WOULD want and have if we could buy our own place!
I am very thankful though that we face nothing but woods, and don't have to see roads, other houses, or into someone else's living room!

annapolis, MD(Zone 7b)

Glorious orange red sunrise sky as I was finishing my paper route this morning. Driving slowly along the two lane wooded part of my route a large hawk swooped to the pavement and then quickly took of again to a low tree branch as I was nearing. The hawk was beautiful against the sky and black bare branches. Such a rounded head and body and the curved hawk beak!

As I passed by the light was enough to see the black and white pattern on its wing feathers from shoulder to tips and the entire tail. Quite a stunning bird. I believe I have seen my first red shouldered hawk!

Karen, do you have a picture of one? Do hawks hunt at night or at dawn? What was it going for on the road?

Lol, seems I am better at bird sightings than bird watching.

I need a place in my yard where I can watch and my three feral cats won't be tempted to pounce if I feed this winter. This has been such a hard summer on birds with the drought that I'm quite aware that there are fewer birds around than previous years. I'd like to do what I can to support the survival of those that have made it thus far.

This message was edited Nov 25, 2012 6:25 PM

Fredericksburg, VA(Zone 7a)

I do have some photos of Red-shouldered Hawks Judy...
We have a pair that live and nest in the woods behind our complex.
We can always tell when they are nearby as the little birds get spooked.

This photo is from one I spotted down by the river a while back.
Hope this helps...

Red-shouldered Hawk

Thumbnail by VA_Wild_Rose
central, NJ(Zone 6b)

Got 2 of my feeders back up, birds are happy
variety is the spice of life....this morning had a male cardinal, chickadee, purple finch and a dark eyed junco all feeding at the same time(of course didn't have my camera handy)

Anne Arundel,, MD(Zone 7b)

Gorgeous hawk!
We don't see bluejays real often but one was coming down to the ground the other day. Downy WP, juncos, hearing chickadees, nuthatches, and white throated sparrows. I've got to get some bird food aside from the one suet.

Fredericksburg, VA(Zone 7a)

I worked from home on Sunday, so I spent about 8 and a half hours in front of the computer...
which is next to our sliding door where I can arch the goings on outside.
It was our coldest day so far, and the birds were busy!
Hubby and I saw numerous birds throughout the day...
Cardinals, Tufted Titmouse, Black-capped Chickadees, the first of the Dark-eyed Juncos,
American Tree Sparrow, Carolina Wren (including my beloved Rumpus), House Finch,
White-breasted Nuthatch, Downy Woodpeckers, and Red-bellied Woodpeckers!
Just in one day! Pretty normal for us now... we've been here for a few years
and feeding the birds for quite a while, so they are used to our set-up.
In summer, they feed and raise their young from our feeders, then bring the fledglings
to the balcony to teach them to eat on their own. We are honored!
We feed a mix without shells to reduce mess, and keep peanutbutter suet available too.
We also keep a pan with water available, and change and clean it regularly.
I see the birds drink from it every day, so I know it's a good thing to have.

Baltimore, MD(Zone 7a)

I need to know more birds when I see them....I have 2 bird guide books--but by the time I get one out,
and find the bird--they are gone.
My feeder is the big, 3-tube one with the baffle on top. it hangs high from the ceiling of my covered
patio roof, out of reach of squirrels. It stays dry from all rain and snow--a real bonus.

Pretty regulars here are Doves, sparrows (maybe different kinds?), Black-capped Chicadees,
now and then a white bellied Nuthatch, Cardinals (mostly the females), a rare Blue Jay, and lately a bunch of
dark colored birds about the size of a sparrow--I think they are Junkos?
I am sure I have finches too---as they have fat beaks. haven't seen Gold Finches yet...
Need to buy that el-cheapo ($4 + or -) tube feeder that has the Goldfinch slits attachments at the feeder stations.
My Thistle seed is a bit old--but the bag has not been opened. Will that be OK? I know they are finicky.

Talking about seed--Costco has this huge, 40lb. bag of Audubon bird seed for only $19.99.
It is mostly Black Sunflower seeds (Striped ones also), a decent amount of Millet (could use more...), some safflower seeds,
BUT--NO MILO! Yeah! I have 2 bags--doubt if i will even go through one this winter...Lots of seed!

I do pour a cup-full of seed on the floor for the doves and--of course, the squirrels. They hog everything up!

You can see the feeder outside my window. This particular picture is from 2008.
But--this is what my house looks like every winter--a Jungle....

Thumbnail by Gitagal
Anne Arundel,, MD(Zone 7b)

So nice to watch the birds. I used to work in an office whose cubicles had a view of woods. Loved that.

I just read that millet was the one preferred food for my beloved white throated sparrows.

I usually buy straight safflower to avoid squirrel hogging issues,.

My old thistle seed seems totally ignored, THey must know its bad.

central, NJ(Zone 6b)

They def are picky about their thistle

annapolis, MD(Zone 7b)

I keep copies of "Local Birds of the Chesapeake" in my glove box and at my backdoor along with binoculars. These are simple and laminated so are more indestructible than my bird reference books that live near my computer.

There are versions for "Greater Baltimore" and "Washington, DC" put out by localbirds.com.

I was 'lucky' in that the hawk I spied had black and white feathers, and that in the several seconds of observation I saw that so did the tail ( which distinguishes it from 'red-tailed' hawk) Hawk not 'barred owl' because of head shape and beak. Kinda like ID ing plants! a process of elimination!

This message was edited Nov 27, 2012 12:11 PM

Salem Cnty, NJ(Zone 7b)

Heard 'something' hit a window the other day. Jeff was outside and heard it too. We both were looking around. In the tree was a small hawk sitting for a few minutes til it regained it's composure. Glad it was able to fly away. Mom loved to watch the birds outside her window.

Fredericksburg, VA(Zone 7a)

Gita, I love your picture window!!!

This male Cardinal was sitting in the tree across from our balcony in the last light of day...

Thumbnail by VA_Wild_Rose
Fredericksburg, VA(Zone 7a)

One of my birdwatchers.... you can see a male Downy Woodpecker at the suet feeder through the window.

Thumbnail by VA_Wild_Rose
Fredericksburg, VA(Zone 7a)

And a few visitors from today...

A Tufted Titmouse at the water dish
Mrs Cardinal
Mrs Downy

Thumbnail by VA_Wild_Rose Thumbnail by VA_Wild_Rose Thumbnail by VA_Wild_Rose
Anne Arundel,, MD(Zone 7b)


Salem Cnty, NJ(Zone 7b)

What a joy!!!

Warrenton, VA

THANK YOU so much for this information and photos! I have disciplined myself to not having any household pets, due to various legitimate reasons, and so, I splurge on the outdoor birds. I have a HUGE maple tree that must be close to 75 feet and as big around, and boy does it hold alot of feeders and a big set of wind chimes...

Anyhoo, I make regular trips to my favorite local nursery to buy the econo-size bags of seed. It's another way to stick my head into gardening supplies and that smell of chemicals...ah! Nothing like it! LOL!

I got frustrated with the small feeders (I think the birds did, too), so have three 5-lb capacity feeders, Droll Yankees. Now, as for that CLAIM that you RARELY have to refill them, well, let me tell you, the birdees have another take on this! The best type for me is the Whipper. The Flipper keeps coming unscrewed at the bottom and is annoying.

Of all the birds, I keep coming back to the Cardinals. I guess it's because I lived in another part of the USA for 20 years, and this bird just epitomizes Virginia. Now, we have a couple of hawks who especially like when the doves gather below the Feeders...

Squirrel-proof is the only way to go, and MADE IN AMERICA. Worth every penny. I actually find myself getting a bit sloppy when I fill my feeders and don't mind the squirrels having a bite on the ground, where they are well-behaved. And then again, I REALLY DON'T MIND when the hawks have a bite...that's Nature in action.

Anne Arundel,, MD(Zone 7b)

Gracye, that sounds great. And thanks for the 'review' of the feeders!

I found ' feathers for lunch' the other day. Mark saw a hawk perched in the tree on the day of Storm Sandy. I think we lost one little grey bird- titmouse or junco from the feather colors.

Anne Arundel,, MD(Zone 7b)

By the way- you can always visit the Bird Watching forum for the Bad Pictures threads, They are funny!

Dover, PA(Zone 6b)

We stopped feeding the birds this spring, other than the Hummers. Plenty for them to eat in the area. Just getting ready to start back again. Have to clean out the totes that I use for bird seed and then pick up some wild bird feed and sunflower seeds. Used up all the suet bars I had so I need more of them as well as a thistle sock. Think Monday will be an expensive day, but the birds will be pretty happy.

Chevy Chase, MD(Zone 7a)

Have you had luck with thistle socks? The thistle falls out of mine -- and the birds don't eat it either from the sock or the ground.

Dover, PA(Zone 6b)

I have used them and several different type of thistle feeders over the years. I had very good luck with the socks but the last one I had the birds didn't touch. I have been wondering if they don't like old seed. I had a bag that I didn't use for quite a long time and when I started using it the birds never did touch any of it.
My Dad hung his under a baffle. A big circular dish that is used to keep squirrel off feeders. He says it keeps the rain off the sock.

This message was edited Dec 1, 2012 6:50 PM

annapolis, MD(Zone 7b)

From my reading, thistle seed goes bad the fastest. After 6mos even if pkg unopened, replace it. Buy in smaller quantities or keep unused portion tightly sealed in the freezer. Supposedly, you can pinch seed between two fingernails and if no oil exudes, it is useless as bird food. Since this seed is 'expensive' buy from a source who can verify freshness. May take 2 - 3 weeks for finches to find your seed or sock and use as a food source. If birds take only one or two seeds rather than stay and eat, probably the seed is gone bad. This is from various sites on nyger seed.

Chevy Chase, MD(Zone 7a)

I've heard that too. I most recently bought it directly from the Audubon headquarters store a few months ago, and I would have thought it would have been really fresh, but you never know. I'll go do the squeeze test!

Warrenton, VA

Same thing happened to me regarding the thistle seed. First, I bought a filled sock. Years later, it's still filled, and decaying under an old tree...
Next, I bought a thistle feeder and seed. No touchee birdee.
About a month later, out went the seed, feeder was put away in the shed. We figured the birds just didn't like or know about thistle.

Broke down in the fall, and bought some more thistle. Cleaned up that feeder. The birds swarmed over it. Now, I have another thistle feeder. Same thing - it disappears faster than anything else out there!

Go figure.

Baltimore, MD(Zone 7a)


I have the same dilemma...my Nyger seed is old. I had 2 bags I got from Myer Seed a few years ago.
Even back then--seems everything they were selling was old anyway. That store really went downhill fast.

Anyway--the one bag that I opened--also is rejected by any birds. The unopened one is just as bad--i am sure.
Sop--here is what i will do with this seed. I just mix it into my regular seed and someone eats it--I am sure.

It has been long known that finches like only fresh seed.
But--how do you know how long the seed has been in the store you are buying it from??
Do they have "expiration" dates????

I was in Lowes a few weeks ago--looking to buy some oilers. You could see through the clear part
of the bag all the webs and the "meal-dust" left over when the Moths get done with the seeds. YUK!!!!
Pantry Moths always can be found in seed and pet foods. Look for them when you walk around the pet food aisle
in the stores. DO NOT store any of these in your house!!!!

If you have never had to fight for years to rid your home of these moths (i had to--for 3 years!) you do not
want to ever, ever have to. They invaded all my pantry goods and boxes--my framed pictures, all my
Geographic Magazines that had a map in them--saved stuffed toys---and everything you can imagine.
They were on my ceiling and walls every day--and I would walk around with a fly swatter to kill them.


BAD....BAD....BAD......SO! Do not keep your pet food and bird seed in the house. You will be sorry!

AHHHH! End of lecture... Gita

Baltimore, MD(Zone 7a)

I just read the link I posted in the above post.

Absolutely NOTHING I did not live through! Everything they describe--I lived through.

Anne Arundel,, MD(Zone 7b)

Same here with old thistle. They'll just refuse if they don't like it, and will adore you if they do. I'm amazed at how birds can find those seeds, in this whole wide world...
Finches adore my sunflowers in summer too. I can't grow enough to have any to save for winter.

Dover, PA(Zone 6b)

Today sure has been a great day for Bird Watching at our house. This morning Ric said he saw what he thought was a young eagle flying down the road. We do see them on occasion. So later this afternoon I went out front and could hear some kind of large bird screech. Looking around I saw some kind of large bird not sure an Eagle maybe some kind of Hawk in the top of the tree across the road. Now I am sitting here watching a Pileated Woodpecker out at the suet cake. Sorry no pictures, That picture shy Woodpecker would scoot away every time I quietly slide open the door and the Big bird was way to far for my camera. Had to get the Binoculars just to get a look at it.

This message was edited Dec 31, 2012 4:18 PM

Baltimore, MD(Zone 7a)


The geese are sure all heading South.
I saw so many groups flying in formation as i drove to NJ last weekend. All over the Turnpike area.

I always feel very nostalgic watching the geese fly overhead. Almost tearing up.....

This feeling comes from some books I once read as a child. They were in 3 parts--all about a 14 yr. old boy, who was
magically converted to an elf-sized person and who then traveled with the geese in all their journeys,
sitting on the back of one. I believe it was one of the boy's domestic geese that got 'called" away to follow the wild geese
on their migration. It was full of adventure and mishaps and struggles.... I still have these 3 books.

You will not find these books....They were translated into Latvian from either Swedish or Norwegian.
and were published in 1948 and 1049. All faded --printed on very poor paper--all yellowed....
But I LOVED them so! Right up my alley--filled with fantasy....

When i was recovering from my second knee replacement surgery--2007--and had to spend a lot of time on my couch--
I got these books out and started reading them again. I think I finished two of them....

Such a trip down Memory Lane!

Wish you all a Very happy New Year--also full of great memories of this old year ending today.

edited to correct the original publish date. It was 1906 (geez! That is when MY Mom was born!!!)
Published: 1906 Author: Selma Lagerlöf

This message was edited Dec 31, 2012 6:34 PM

Thumbnail by Gitagal
Baltimore, MD(Zone 7a)

Silly me! Of course--you can find anything on the Internet!
Kind of "blows" my fantasy.....

Like--here: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/The_Wonderful_Adventures_of_Nils

And also here: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=YG_RI_Chv0s

And---Here too--besides--you can buy it on Amazon!


Fredericksburg, VA(Zone 7a)

Holly I am sure your birds were a sight to see! I love Pileated Woodpeckers... we see them at my Mom's and in the woods... but I would have a fit to see one on our balcony! We get Downy, Red-bellied, and Hairy regularly at our balcony feeders, and even a Yellow-bellied Sapsucker one time.... never a Pileated.


Anne Arundel,, MD(Zone 7b)

too suburban for pileated here as well. And I have not seen Downy yet. I hear nuthatches a lot. I have a fresh suet out so it should be enjoyed well this month.

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