Bird-watching from my home office

April 30, 2011 § 3 Comments

I find myself spending time frequenting the Cornell Lab of Ornithology’sAll About Birds” website ( The reason? The bird feeder just outside my office window.

Since Spring began, our front and backyards have been awash in color, both from flora and fauna. Our wrens have chosen a different place to nest, and I believe their eggs hatched yesterday (just guessing from all the commotion). We also have several pairs of couples who frequent our little feeder ranging from house finches to cardinals to titmice to chickadees. (Fortunately for me, these are among my favorite birds!) I’ve loved listening to their different songs and guessing how far along the females are in their respective gestations.

The Cornell Lab of Ornithology has been a fascinating little tool–all I have to do is look up the shape of a bird, and they’ll help me narrow down which kind it is. This is much more useful than typing “small brown bird with long beak and short tail” into Google.

I have managed to snap a couple of photos of our more frequent visitors. No matter the time of day, you are bound to see a pair of house finches and American goldfinches eagerly noshing at Chez Hab. They can be a tad possessive, particularly when the females are close to laying. (As the mating pair below is.)

House Finch:

Look how round she is!

The female is on the top left-hand perch while the male is on the bottom right-hand perch. The male warded off another young male house finch so that the female could eat in peace. Occasionally, he offered her a little peck on the head too…not entirely sure what that was about, since he worked so hard to get her a place at the table from the get-go.

American Goldfinch:

So pretty!

I love Goldies. So very very much. Aside from chickadees, they appear to be fairly docile little eaters…except when they’re really after a meal, in which case they are satisfied with simply flying to their intended perch and scaring the bejeezus out of the perch’s occupant until the offending party flits away. When a family of goldfinches wants to eat, though, you better watch out!

It took absolutely no time whatsoever for this family of four to clear off the feeder for their own dinnertime needs.

Move it, or lose it, buddy! We're eatin' here!

So far, behaviorally-speaking that is, I have only observed the male house finches engage in any all-out physical violence. (Nothing, that is to say, quite to the extent of the dreaded house sparrow…dreaded if you’re a poor little bird who nests in a nestbox. Also, house sparrows are those little brown birds you might see hopping around in parking lots. They’re pretty cute…but they’re vicious toward other birds. If you don’t have an iron stomach, you shouldn’t Google for proof of their meanness. It’s pretty grim.) No, the male house finches I’ve observed tend to just stick to pecking on the head and flapping their wings wildly until they get their way. The American goldfinches, as I said, sort of just dive-bomb the other bird. I haven’t observed any pecking from them, but the behavior is just sort of presumptive: “I’m landing here, if you don’t mind.” The other bird doesn’t have a choice but to move…or get landed on. Those are the options.

So, these are the birds I get to enjoy observing. 🙂 They truly make work in the office less drudgery and more pleasurable.

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§ 3 Responses to Bird-watching from my home office

  • Adele says:

    House Sparrows are invasive as well a mean. You can break their eggs if you find them (they are not covered under the Migratory Bird Treaty – nor are Starlings).

  • This post makes me want to get my birdfeeder out and seriously watch the birds again. I used to enjoy it so much, but haven’t bothered in recent years, since we’ve been out of the country so much. I really enjoyed this post, Amanda! Hope you’re enjoying your weekend!

  • jacquelincangro says:

    I just saw a cardinal peeking out from a tree last weekend. I love when the birds return in the spring and hear them singing in the morning.

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