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.
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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.

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  • I live in Southeastern Massachusetts. Four "orphaned" very young poults (males) showed up in my yard about a year ago. They have been around all year. I do feed them cracked corn, and they come when I call for them. I don't want to over- domesticate them, but they do recognize me as the lady that brings food. They roost in the big oak trees at night. I have a 1 acre lot, with many acres of protected forest out back and a pond on the property.Lately, during mating season, I have had hens in the yard too. We've counted as many as 7 Toms and hens, but today, had just the one stalwart (a very robust Tom) that comes everyday. One of the Toms that has recently made an appearance is wounded, limping with an obvious predator wound. The local wildlife experts say he should make a full recovery, and that he's best left to recover with his flock.I find them to be interesting and beautiful birds.
    by Heather Cole, Mon, 06 Apr 2020
  • You have to put food in it.
    by Truckee Man, Mon, 06 Apr 2020
  • Love listeningto both songs and calls from birds in our woody neighborhood. The two types of birds I immediately recognize are the cardinals and the chickadees. Yesterday afternoon too, I heard a woodpecker. Then it’s time to check the birdfeeders and the birdbath. Then In no time at all the cardinals and chickadees arrive, as if they had been watching me. As it gets busier around the feeders, I also hear thé screeching of the blue jays. I even saw a couple of robins checking out our lawn....spring has arrived as the last pat gesofisticeerde snow and ice melt away.
    by louisabt, Sun, 08 Mar 2020
  • I am wondering about existing nests for Phoebes. I have two outdoor aisle entries to my barn and there are old Phoebe nests up. They ignore them each year and build new nests adjacent to the old, but space is running out. Should I knock down the old nests so they can rebuild?
    by [email protected], Sun, 02 Feb 2020
  • Just wondering, should we put anything in the bottom of the box...twigs, clippings, leaves....anything at all?
    by Hebb, Tue, 28 Jan 2020