From Tiny to Majestic

Birds, that is. Although we’re intrigued that there are at least some birds year ’round here (winter just doesn’t seem like it would be that hospitable to our feathered friends), spring certainly brings an explosion of birds and we’re enjoying them all.

Although as you know from my musings here it starts feeling like spring quite early—March-ish or even before—you can still presume it will drop below freezing many nights, right up through the cleverly-named “last frost date” which is usually in mid-May. So we don’t put our hummingbird feeder out until we’re pretty sure we won’t have worries of it freezing, which means we put it out last week.

It’s such a blast to watch them arrive, one at first, then two, pretty soon we’ll have as many as six or seven eating regularly at this one feeder.  They put on a constant show, dive-bombing each other, zipping around, and drinking an alarming amount of the nectar we’ll continue to make and put out for them until it’s time for them to fly south in the fall.  Now with our dining room out where the living room used to be (yes, we decided to keep it that way after the holidays) it’s good encouragement to eat meals at the table where we can watch the show!

Golden Eagle, "Holi"

Now, for the other extreme in size range, we regularly see eagles here—flying right by our home—which is quite exciting.  We have bald eagles—the quintessential majestic bird—as well as their slightly less dramatic (albeit actually larger) cousins, the golden eagle.  This past Saturday we went with Chris and Louise about 10 minutes up the highway to Farmington to the Great Salt Lake Bird Festival.

Photo thanks to Skymasters Foundation

Although it turns out there were lots of cool presentations and such going on, we had gone specifically for a workshop on “Golden Eagle/Bald Eagle Comparison.”  There was supposed to be both a live bird of each type, but the presenter (Ben Woodruff of Skymasters Foundation) explained his bald eagle was having some challenges and he decided it was better not to bring him. We were disappointed but also really respected that he was putting the bird’s welfare first.

He did have Holi, his golden eagle, and she was something to see. We were able to actually touch her (how many of you can say you’ve petted an eagle!) and Ben gave an amazingly informative and entertaining talk. He’s one of only 31 folks in the entire country licensed to do the rehab and training work he does with eagles (although his work encompasses many other kinds of critters as well) and we were sorry when the workshop ended.

While the eagles might represent the most “majestic” of our local birds, they’re not really the “largest” that we’ve seen here. We make trips a couple of times a year (at least) out to the Bear River Migratory Bird Refuge near us and have been lucky enough to hit it a few times when the American White Pelican was out in full force.  This bird looks “big” when you see it out on the water, but is truly amazing when you realize that it has a wingspan of 7 to 9 FEET, second only to the Condor.

We used to say that we were never “birders” before moving to Costa Rica, but how could you not become interested in birds when you were surrounded by such exotics as colorful toucans and parrots, laughing falcons, oropendolas with their bright yellow tails and crazy call, the bright blue motmot with its long tail, trogans, flycatchers, and so many others.  And we do miss those exotics!

But we’ve found here, now that our interest was piqued, we’re similarly intrigued with everything from our local hummers to our eagles and everything in-between.  I’ll report on other bird sightings in the future (there are truly so many!) but I’ll sign off for now, as our hummingbirds have finally quieted down for the night.  They’ll be at it again before daybreak in the morning!

What birds have you seen recently?


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11 Responses to From Tiny to Majestic

  1. Ardis Nicholson says:

    Currently, I’m looking at some house sparrows, house finches, a goldfinch, mourning, inca, 2 white wing doves (They are regulars and but normally would not be this far north), and a Eurasian ringneck dove, a red bellied woodpecker, bluejay, mocking bird, titmouse, & chickadees.
    My other regulars are the hummingbirds, & orchard orioles, and others that migrate through. I have 6 feeders right outside my office window customized with different seeds and nectars according to the likes of the different species. It’s my daytime TV and can distract me from work all too often. It is also my cats’ TV and they stay at the windows making all manner of noises which I translate to “I would love to eat you if you wouldn’t mind coming inside”.
    I’m sorry you didn’t get to see the bald eagle. My first sighting was at my cabin on Bistineau when one flew through the yard and landed in a tree. He had a fish in his beak and proceeded to eat it. That massive head and beak made me want to stand and salute him. He was such a majestic bird. I can only imagine the birds you got to see in Costa Rica. I’ve always “watched” birds but it can really get addictive at certain times of the year when they migrate through. Have fun with your flocks.

    • arden says:

      Sounds like you’ve got some seriously good “daytime TV” going on there! Luckily, we do see the eagles (both types) fly right here near the house, but still would’ve really been fun to see one up so close. We have tons of quail here at the house, along with several *different* blue birds of various sorts, including the Steller’s Jay with his big crest. Still learning what lots of them are. And, yes, the birds in CR were amazing — so many of those tropical birds almost seem like cartoon characters, they’re so colorful and so “odd” to our North American vision of what’s “normal.” They were so much fun! We’re pleased here that while the birds are less “exotic” we’re still finding them really interesting. I look forward to learning more about them over the coming months and years. ;-)

      • Ardis Nicholson says:

        Conner keeps some quail in a huge flight pen he built in his backyard. He just likes them and likes to hear them “whistle”in the mornings. Can’t imagine just having them around like pigeons.
        How fun!

        • arden says:

          Yeah, we have a pretty good sized covey that seems to live right around here, although we don’t ever actually see where they nest. They spend the day running their silly little run across our road, across our yard, up our driveway, through our backyard, etc. etc. We have this very large rock right outside the house — about 10′ in front of the kitchen window — and often they’ll perch up there and call out, looking around their territory, just seeming to check it all out. Very fun. They’re just starting to nest now, so in a while the covey looks even sillier with all these zillions of babies scooting along with the adults. ;-)

  2. Sally says:

    Cardinals, of course :) And lots of fascinating bird songs! I need a recording to identify them.

    • arden says:

      I *know* — I wish I recognized more birds by their sounds! (I think “there’s an app for that” but we so slow to catch on to the full powers of our “smart phone” that I haven’t figured it out yet.) Our most notable birds in Costa Rica had such distinctive calls—the toucan, oropendolas, parrots, and laughing falcons certainly were each unmistakable—and here I’m sure once you *learn* they’re quite clear too, but we’re still in the “they all sound the same” phase. It’s fun learning, though!

  3. Sally says:

    Too bad there are no Howler Monkeys here. Those things were amazing :)

    • arden says:

      Yeah, it was funny — we’d heard the name “howlers” for actually a couple of years before we ever “heard” them for real, and I think David and I both had come up with quite a different sound in our minds of what they would be like. We often had them very near the house we moved into during our 2nd year there, and the first time we heard them was a total WTF experience — couldn’t even imagine what that sound was. We came to love it as one of our favorite “sounds” there. Definitely amazing!

  4. Deborah Kauffeld says:

    Just took and edited photos of a Great Blue Heron looking like a dirty swan on the lake. I had no idea that they actually swam on the water! I thought they were merely waders. Anyway, got some good shots of him today. We have, naturally, the gamut of water birds here in Florida. I’ve also been quite happy to note the variety of raptors living here – bald eagle, osprey and assorted hawks. Saw a cardinal today also. Got some great shots of wood storks mating a couple of months ago.

    Sounds like you have really adopted your new home and environment!

    • arden says:

      Hi, Deborah,

      Are you going to keep posting at all on your blog? Would love to see your pix! Sounds like some great birds around you. Yes, we really feel wonderfully “at home” here and consider ourselves so lucky that this is where our daughter ended up living. We, along with our friends Chris and Louise who moved from Costa Rica here with us, remark truly nearly every day how much we like it here, and how glad we are to be here. ;-) Hope things are going well for you in FL.

      • Deborah Kauffeld says:

        Arden, I’ve not kept up with my blog at all. Really needed to regroup first since it was initially conceived as being my “getting ready to RV” blog but I think I’m about done with that process! Maybe this week I’ll get back to it. I’ve hardly taken any photos since getting back here. Been so busy with mom who celebrates her 90th this week! Stay well!

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