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Saturday, January 17, 2015

The Return of the Birds - and Name That Bird

In a recent blog post, one of my local blogging friends, Dorothy, wondered where all the birds had gone this winter. 

In the six years I have lived here, it has seemed the we are surrounded by birds.  We hear them all the time, we see them in the garden, at the feeders and flying overhead.

But this winter it has seemed like they all just disappeared.  Even our year round birds, like the Cardinals, have been absent. The garden is silent.

I was really getting quite depressed about it, thinking it was because we now have houses on either side, where we used to have brush and trees.  

My little country garden that I loved so much when we moved here is rapidly becoming surrounded by suburbia. But I consoled myself that at least we still have the hedgerow (at least for now) across the road behind us.  It was always full of birds.

Where they went this winter is a complete mystery.

But at long last, I've started seeing some birds again.  Okay - so they are mostly European House Sparrows, not the most desirable of avian visitors.  But after the complete lack of birds over the winter, I'll take what I can get!

I also caught sight of this Carolina wren last weekend in the rain.  Perhaps they will nest on the patio again this year.  I hope so!  I heard and saw a Chickadee too, but couldn't get a photo of him.

The Southern Wax Myrtle seemed to provide a cozy dry shelter to these Mourning Doves, who stayed huddled under it for most of that rainy morning.  I began to worry that they might be injured but once it stopped raining, they flew off.

After weeks of cold wet, dreary weather, I was happy to see the sun shining in the garden this morning.  I was even more thrilled to see "Mr. Cardinal" on the wall, helping himself to the birdseed I had just put out.  Mrs. Cardinal was there too, but I didn't get a good shot of her.

As I was standing at the back door, taking photos of the sparrows and the cardinal, I realized that there was another bird with them.  At first I had assumed it was a sparrow but quickly realized it wasn't.  

As I wanted to identify it and add it to my "Life List", I took several photos.  Unfortunately, they haven't helped me identify it, either using my Birds of North America book, or the online tool at

This is where you come in.  I'm hoping someone can tell me what this is. And then I can feel like an idiot for not being able to identify it myself!  :-)

With those markings he should be easy to identify, but once I had entering in "brown back", "streaked front," "yellow markings," "chestnut crown" etc.  I ended up with nothing.

These three are the best of the photos I got of him.

Any idea what he is?  Please leave a comment :-)

Words and photographs by Jayne Wilson, Green and Serene, Jayne's Country Garden.


Dorothy Borders said...

I believe you'll find it also has a yellow rump. Yellow-rumped Warbler.

Debra said...

I am so happy for you that your birds are returning. These are great shots. =)

Jayne said...

Wow Dorothy. That was quick. Thanks. Looking at the Yellow Rumped Warbler photos online, I think this must be a female. The males look very blue/grey and the yellow patches are more vivid. Never would have found it without your help. Thanks again!

Jayne said...

Thank you Debra :-)

Anonymous said...

I live in Austin and have noticed fewer birds this year as well. Its been since October that they have been scarce. Over the past couple of weeks, I've noticed a small increase though. Mostly house sparrows, like you. But I have seen dove, house finchs, and our female cardinal. I wish there was some way to find out why the birds aren't here.

Kathleen Scott said...

Hi Jayne, looks like a yellow-rump warbler to me. One key to identifying the warbler family is the little narrow beaks, good for eating bugs, their primary diet. Sparrows and other seed-eaters have thick beaks.

Jayne said...

Thank you Kathleen. I just noticed in the first photo, you can actually see a yellow patch on its rump. I hadn't noticed that before. Yellow Rumped Warbler it is. A first for me :-)

Jayne said...

Thank for your comment, Anonymous. I agree, it's quite mystifying as to where they all went this winter. I'm glad you're seeing a bit of an increase now. I hope it continues for you.

Pam's English Garden said...

What a mystery, Jayne! I have more birds than ever this winter, but no unusual ones. Your captures are lovely. P. x

Anna said...

What a pretty little bird. Isn't it strange how they all disappear at times? Perhaps there was some building going on in your area that scared them off, or maybe a cat hanging around. I notice that our birds disappear (for hours though, not long periods of time) when the kites and hawks are more active. Glad yours returned! Nice photos, by the way.

Bernie H said...

It was lovely to drop by and see some of the birds you've spotted lately. Of course they're not commonly spotted around here, lol! We've had huge flocks of Black Cockatoos lately. Oldies will tell you that's a sign that the wet season is definitely coming. We have had some decent rainfall, but there should be more on the way.

Corner Gardener Sue said...

I'm glad you got the mystery bird identified. It is a pretty thing. We have lots of sparrows here, too. I hope you continue to see them now. I wonder why they were not around for awhile.