The Birds You Don’t See

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American Robin
American Robin

Even spending a lot of time watching, I’ve learned there is all kinds of bird activity going on in my yard that I never see. We focus on the birds we see, but what about the birds we don’t see?

Just today, as it was getting dark, I happened to glance outside and realized the front yard was full of American Robins. I counted twenty-four, although there may have been more in the darkening yard. The robins were spread out over the whole front yard doing their quick scurry, pause and listen, scurry again dance. The were turning over leaves and excavating here and there, looking for choice insects.

Seeing Birds: Luck & The Right Moment

I watched the robins for about ten minutes and then they were gone. If I hadn’t happened to look out at just the right time, I would have missed them. This kind of thing happens all the time.

I walk past a window just in time to see a mad explosion of activity as birds flee, probably from a hawk. But I just missed it. I return home, pulling into the driveway to see a huge Turkey Vulture sitting on the fallen log. What brought it there? I don’t know because I wasn’t there at just the right time to see it.

Cut Off From Bird Song Inside

In winter, especially once screens are traded out for storm windows, I feel cut off. There is all kinds of bird activity outside, but windows muffle sound and narrow vision.

I can still hear one of the male Carolina Wrens singing loudly, answered by a rival. But with windows closed, I can’t hear the long drawn-out rattle-like call of the female who I know puts her two-cents into the conversation whenever the males sing like this.

I can hear Blue Jays loudly calling to their buddies to announce that I’ve put peanuts out or to alert every bird within ear-shot that a predator is around. But I can only hear the softer chips of Northern Cardinals or the irritated call of a Tufted Titmouse if I go outside.

Sitting Outside With Birds

I find sitting outside quietly watching birds to be incredibly relaxing . . . well, at least when the Red-Winged Blackbirds and Eastern Starlings aren’t in feeder mob mode. If I sit very still and low to the ground, the birds return to their activities in a little bit of time. They keep an eye on me and maintain a bubble of space between them and me. But they go on with their day.

Sitting outside, I witness things that I can’t see from the house. Whenever I spend time outside, I usually see at least one vulture or a hawk of some kind circling high above the neighborhood. And if the Cooper’s Hawk pays a visit to the feeders, I’m there to see the whole event unfold.

From inside, it is hard to look out and up. Sitting outside, the sky opens up to the birds I don’t see through the windows. From outside lately I can see Ring-Billed Gulls periodically flying over the yard. At some times of the year I can see V’s of Canada Geese. Late on summer afternoons, Chimney Swifts can be seen zipping around overhead on their way home for the night.

Sitting outside, I can sometimes hear a tapping on the trees that divide our property with our neighbors. Turning my head, I see a Yellow-Bellied Sapsucker drilling her holes in a pine tree. All of this is pretty invisible from the house.

Sometimes, even in the winter, it is worth bundling up to sit outside for a little while. You may be surprised at the birds that live in your yard that you never see through your windows.

Nancie

Learn More About Maryland Birds

See my post on Central Maryland Backyard Birds.

Winter Backyard Birds

American Robins on All About Birds


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