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Birds in my backyard: Evening Grosbeak


















These birds visit our feeder every Winter/Spring and while they are beautiful to behold, they are loud and crowd out my local birds.  They get pretty rowdy and fly into my windows sometimes.  I love that my kiddos know them and can laugh at their antics.

Large and brightly colored, the Evening Grosbeak is a noticeable winter visitor to bird feeders during irruption years. When a flock settles down to feed, it can clean out a surprisingly large amount of sunflower seeds in a short time.

Birds in my backyard: Western Scrub-Jay

Jays don’t bother me….much.  I actually miss Blue Jays and the fits they used to put on for my viewing pleasure.  Up here in WA, we have the Stellar’s Jay and the Western Scrub-Jay.  And in fact, when I lived a little more west we only had Stellar’s.  I like the Western Scrub-Jays.  They don’t come around the feeder quite as often as the Stellar’s and they are less noisy.  Plus they have some beautiful blue feathers to boot…even a back side shot 😀

Both males and females sing a soft medley of sweet notes that can last up to 5 minutes. Scrub-jays typically do this only during courtship and when the pair is close together.

Birds in my backyard: Black-capped Chickadee

I love, love, love this little bird.  I love how it moves in the trees, when it sings and when it fights at the bird feeder.  They are just so adorable.  I bought my kiddos a plush one and it sings when you press it.

I caught this one in my cherry tree (that has yet to grow properly) singing:



Black-capped Chickadees are found in a variety of habitats, but compared to the other chickadees in Washington, Black-cappeds are most likely to be found in deciduous or mixed woodlands. They are common in forest edges, parks, yards, wetlands, willow thickets, cottonwood groves, and disturbed areas.


During the breeding season, Black-capped Chickadees are territorial, but they form flocks in the winter. These winter flocks may include other species, but Black-cappeds are typically numerically dominant. Black-capped Chickadees often forage in birch or alders by hopping on twigs and branches and gleaning their surfaces for food. Often they hang upside-down to get at the undersides of branches and leaves, but they also hover, probe, and occasionally fly out to catch aerial prey. They readily come to seed and suet feeders. Black-capped chickadees cache food in Fall and retrieve it up to a month later.


Insects, spiders, berries, and seeds (especially sunflower seeds at feeders) make up the majority of their diet. Insects, spiders, and the eggs of both are common components of the winter diet. In winter, vegetable matter, including seeds and fruit, makes up about half of the diet, but that decreases to 10-20% during warmer months. During the summer, caterpillars become increasingly important. Black-capped Chickadees have also been seen scavenging fat from carrion.


Black-capped Chickadees are monogamous and form long-term pair bonds. They are cavity-nesters and use existing cavities including old woodpecker or other natural holes and occasionally nest boxes. Black-capped Chickadees will also excavate or enlarge their own cavities in rotten wood. Both sexes excavate, but only the female builds the nest, which starts with a foundation of moss and is lined with soft hair. The female incubates 6 to 8 eggs for 12 to 13 days. The male brings food while the female incubates. In the first few days after the young hatch, the female broods the young almost continuously. As the young grow, the female joins the male in providing food. The young leave the nest at about 16 days but stay on the breeding territory for another 3-4 weeks before heading off on their own.–from Seattle Audubon’s page

Birds in my backyard: Oregon junco



















These fun little birds are residents of my yard.  They are pretty fun to watch.  They visit my feeder but hang out and eat on the ground.

Dark-eyed Juncos are neat, even flashy little sparrows that flit about forest floors of the western mountains and Canada, then flood the rest of North America for winter. They’re easy to recognize by their crisp (though extremely variable) markings and the bright white tail feathers they habitually flash in flight. One of the most abundant forest birds of North America, you’ll see juncos on woodland walks as well as in flocks at your feeders or on the ground beneath them (Cornell Lab of Ornithology).

**I am thinking this will be a fun new feature every other Thursday!