Nov 21, 2014 | Featured in: Watching Backyard Birds, December 2014

Watching Backyard Birds Across the Country

Lesser and American goldfinches feed in flocks in the Southwest.
Share:

Although I currently live on the coast of Maine, I have been watching birds in several yards as my husband and I have relocated around the country. Feeding and watching birds give me a sense of stability and pleasure as we move from state to state. Most recently I have watched and photographed birds in Tucson, Arizona; Andover, Massachusetts; and now on the coast of Maine!

In Tucson, our winter green is the bark of a palo verde tree contrasted with the bright red cap of a Gila woodpecker.

I have never lived this close to the ocean before, so having a yard that has house finches and downy woodpeckers as well as ospreys and ibises has been quite a delight! My current yard sits on a point of land called Mere Point, in Brunswick. Our house sits on a one-acre lot ringed by deciduous and evergreen trees, with open lawn and various weeds, bushes and vines on the perimeter. The many small birds that come to my yard like to seek shelter in the thickets and vines and there are plenty of fruiting shrubs to provide food year round. Though we live near the ocean, I still keep a bird bath filled, since the birds still need fresh water to drink. On both sides of my yard the land slopes down to the ocean. In winter I can see Maquoit Bay from my living room window, and sometimes I can even spot a few sea ducks if they are close enough to the shore.

A red-tailed hawk hung out above my bird feeders throughout the winter in Andover, Massachusetts!

Of course, my yards in Tucson were quite different from the East Coast. I say, "yards" because we have lived there twice! In one yard, I had cacti and cactus wrens! A few hummingbirds stayed through the winter, and one of my favorite backyard birds was the pyrrhuloxia, colloquially called the Mexican cardinal. Another backyard favorite there is the Gila woodpecker. It looks similar to the red-bellied woodpecker of the East, and is quite a character. They love to cling onto hummingbird feeders and drink the nectar, or search for insects in palo verde trees.

A downy woodpecker intently feeding on some stalks of mullein in my yard.

Each time we move to a new house, the first things I do are to unpack my bird feeders and set them out. Seeing birds at my feeders makes me feel like I am home again!

It was always fun to look out my window and see a pyrrhuloxia on the fence when living in Tucson.

About Kathie Adams Brown

Enjoy more of Kathie's photos and words at kathiesbirds.blogspot.ca.


New On This Site

The Latest Comments

  • I am excited to have my daughter’s tree this year, since my landlord has removed the lovely yew next to my patio, which was the only shelter for birds at my feeder.
    by pmalcpoet, Mon, 20 Dec 2021
  • Goldfinches will continue as long as Swiss chard is available. I'm watching one eating chard right now (mid-November in Vermont).
    by Brian Tremback, Sun, 14 Nov 2021
  • Birds are on the decline though sunflowers are rarely touched and for weeks hardly .eaten. I'll try a few sparing nuts on the table and a fat ball broken for jackdaws and tits but mealworms were a summer favourite being my go to choice
    by Paul Harabaras, Thu, 04 Nov 2021
  • I’ve been enjoying goldfinches eating coneflower/ echinacea seeds in my new pollinator garden! I will leave the plants out all winter for them if the seeds keep that long? Or should I deadhead and put them in a dry area? Im in CT and thought they migrated, but didn’t know they put in winter coats! What do they eat in winter without bird feeders?
    by Anne Sheffield, Sat, 04 Sep 2021
  • Hi Gary, I will pass your question along to Birdsquatch next time I see him. He knows infinitely more about nocturnal wildlife than I do. Where do you live? That's pretty important in figuring out the answer. But the thief could be raccoons, deer, or flying squirrels. Do you live in the woods? Are there trees near your feeder, or must the culprit climb a shepherd's hook or pole? Dawn Hewitt, Watching Backyard Birds
    by Dawn Hewitt, Mon, 30 Aug 2021