The Cornell Lab Bird Academy Discussion Groups Joy of Birdwatching Activities: Noticing Behaviors

    • Kathleen
      Participant
      Chirps: 4
      It always amazes me that the 2 (M&F) Cardinals that come to my feeders never show up at the same time.  Since it is winter, they are probably not caring for a nest.  I watch and watch, but one shows up, then disappears, then the other shows up.....but never at the same time. There are 3 gregarious Blue Jays that almost always arrive at the feeders at the same time.  They hang in the branches of the big tree, drop down for a seed and then back to the branches. The WB Nuthatch always eats upside down at the seed feeder, but the downy always eats right side up at the suet feeder. There is a group of House Finches that eats regularly.  I suppose there could be a Purple Finch in there once in a while.  However, the one that I suspect moves so quickly that I cannot get a good look at the bird.  The House Finches are happy to sit and eat and eat.  I am able to focus on every detail. The one suspect bird is in and out and not to be identified.
    • Kurt
      Participant
      Chirps: 29
      Watched the Panama cam, saw a group of 6 Grey-Headed Chachalaca feeding on the fruits present, while 2 or 3 would dip their heads down, the others kept their heads up, then they would alternate. These are larger birds and they muscled out the smaller blue and red birds who were briefly present. They eat by grabbing and ripping the fruit, primarily bananas.
    • Tim
      Participant
      Chirps: 4
      #2. House sparrows mob the feeder, bull their way on, and get shoved off.  Doves sit and eat until another dove displaces them.  Chickadees pick through the sunflower chips, take one to a bush, eat it there, and come back for more.  Blue jays swoop in, eat quickly, and zoom away.  Grackles sometimes grab multiple chips, dunk them in the water dish, repeat, and then fly away.  Most birds get out of the way of the downy woodpeckers, and everyone gives the red-bellied woodpeckers plenty of space.
    • Michelle
      Participant
      Chirps: 2
      Night time at the Panama feeder. Humming bird would flit in feed for a second or two then fly off quickly out of picture frame.
    • Activity 2: I observed a White-Breasted Nuthatch take one peanut at a time and dart away with it to eat in privacy. The Tufted Titmouse also did the same at the seed feeder. One seed, then off he goes returning several times to the feeder. The Carolina Wren sat in the window feeder with the meal worms and had a feast. He is loud and makes a mess when eating. The Bluebirds do the same. The House Finches will sit on the perch at the feeder and take their time as well as the Chipping Sparrows. The Chickadees don’t sit as long as the Finches or Sparrows, but they will rest for a minute to eat on the feeder and then fly off. If they are eating peanuts they will take one at a time and leave, returning several times to the peanuts. The Downy Woodpeckers will hang on the suet feeders and take their time enjoying their meal. The Red-Bellied Woodpeckers will go to the no mess seed feeder and take seeds and leave.
    • Marcel
      Participant
      Chirps: 9
      A couple American Goldfinch in my garden on Oct 14. The plumage is a lot different then the goldfinch in spring or summer. They were picking seeds that I had thrown in there. They were competing with White Crown warbler dark eye junco and black chickadee
    • Marcel
      Participant
      Chirps: 9
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    • Elizabeth
      Participant
      Chirps: 3
      B0771DE6-5BFF-48AE-B3FF-A11DF4E883EA On the subject of Goldfinches….they have been busy around my house.  My husband was sitting in the driveway and called me from the car to tell me there were Goldfinches on my Zinnias!  I grabbed my phone and peeked out the window and caught this picture!  There were three or four of them dining on my flowers, picking off the petals and eating the seeds.  Again I went to All about Birds to check out their diets and eating habits and sure enough, they like to land on plants (like thistles) and eat the seeds.  It was hard to be mad at them.  They are nesting now and I guess they were hungry!
    • Elizabeth
      Participant
      Chirps: 3
      I witnessed two American Goldfinches outside my kitchen window doing something I have never seen before.  I saw the female sitting on top of my neighbors arborvitae shrub bobbing it’s head and picking at the leaves.  I looked closer and realized she was gathering the spider webs that were visible at the top of the shrub.  I saw the male sitting nearby.  She flew off and he followed her.  A few minutes later she returned with her mate and repeated the same activity.  I just looked up the nesting section for American Goldfinches at All About Birds and read that, indeed, they do use “spider silk” in building their nests.  I suspected that was what it was for, but glad I was able to read about it as well.  So interesting to watch!
    • WLMII
      Participant
      Chirps: 17
      ACTIVITY 1:  A few weeks ago I saw two Warbling Vireos for the first time.  One had some sort of caterpillar/larva in its mouth.  I found them in a swamp, bouncing around on branches about 20 feet up.  Then they did something that astonished me.  Apparently during courtship they will get close and join beaks.  The two I saw did this.  Now one had a caterpillar in its mouth so maybe the other was just trying to steal it.  But after joining beaks they fell several feet in a controlled descent, spinning like slow helicopter blades around their linked beaks.  Their rapidly flapping wings gave them just enough lift to make this display seem intentional. I haven't been able to find anything about warbling vireos dropping through the air linked together and spinning, so perhaps this was an accident on their part but I was happy to have seen it. I've had several encounters with male Red-winged Blackbirds letting me know I was too close to their harems.  They puff up get close, flash those red shoulders, make a racket, and stare daggers.  I have a few photos of this. Finally,  I was able to observe a few Eastern Wood-Pewees catching large Horse Flies.  Two of these Pewees flew at me to catch their prey.  The first got so close I felt the wind from its wings on my face.  It rapidly turned away, landed on a branch, and gobbled down a massive horse fly.  I guess he saved me from a bite.  After swallowing the fly, the pewee brushed his beak on the branch on both sides, I guess using it as a napkin. A few minutes later I another Pewee demonstrating aerial maneuvers worthy of an air show, caught an even larger horse fly.  The pewee landed on a branch holding the Horse Fly by its abdomen.  The fly was buzzing its wings in a vain attempt to escape.  To stop this, the Pewee slammed the fly into the branch several times. I did activity 2 and 3 but this entry has been long enough.
      • WLMII
        Participant
        Chirps: 17
        0N9A3986An angry Red-Winged Blackbird telling me to get away from his harem.
      • Gayle
        Participant
        Chirps: 1
        Thanks so much for these lovely descriptions! I'm especially interested in the vireos and hoping someone has more knowledge on these behaviors.  And I could certainly visualize those pee-wees gobbling flies!
    • Shelby
      Participant
      Chirps: 7
      We have absolutely loved using the Sound ID on the Merlin Bird ID App. We have been able to ID so many birds because of it! Carolina Wrens, Cardinals, Tufted Titmouse, Northern Mockingbird, Eastern Bluebird, Red-Eyed Vireo, Scarlet Tanager, Acadian Flycatcher, Black-Throated Green Warbler and so many more!
    • Angeleque
      Participant
      Chirps: 6
      First, thank you to everyone who takes the time to write. Very enjoyable. Second, a query. Via ebird, we have been noticing a local who does a lot of birding. We would love to make a connection with her. Is there any way to contact people you find in your county. We live in Franklin County, NY--very rural (not a lot of birding organizations) in the Adirondacks. This person also seems more experienced but is walking in the same remote areas we walk. Any ideas? We wrote Cornell lab but heard nothing..Yet! Activity 1 We have feeders all over the place. We notice the chickadees who are there all winter, are gone.  Lots of mourning doves, red winged blackbirds, robins, and a dark blue headed blackbird--name? etc.. Interestingly, and this happens every year, we generally only get 1 hummingbird (at a time) at the feeders. Activity 2-We have suet in the backyard; we changed because something (raccoon) carried the whole thing away in the front yard (at least we cannot find the container). For us, it is interesting to see how the birds eat that suet--knocking a bit to the ground and then eating. Also, in the past, the black-capped chickadee is so interesting how they take the seed in their feet and then turn around to eat on the feeder. Chickadees also seem fearless! Activity 3-We used Merlin in the woods behind out house (live on 20 acres). Merlin identified Red-eyed vireo and eastern  wood-peewee two birds of which we were unaware. Finally, and sorry so long, here is a pic of the first loons we have seen of the season. Kayak trip on Mountain Pond in the Adirondacks near out house. Loons Mountain Pond 6-11-2022
    • Andrea
      Participant
      Chirps: 12
      Activity 1: I have been observing a Northern Mocking hanging on a power line in front of a house. I think it is the same individual. It sings its long repertoire of songs and calls by itself. While I walk along the street he sings very loud and sometimes it flies in a circle over the wire and returns to the same spot. Activity 2: Mourning Doves and European Starlings were picking the seeds from the ground, Common Grackles elevate their head to forage in the panel that was perpendicular to the ground, Red-bellied Woodpeckers were reaching the food from the trunk-like structure in the feeder. Activity 3: Depending on the time of the day, very early in the morning when it is still dark I hear Mourning Doves and House Sparrows. Later in the day I hear Blue Jays, Northern Cardinals, and House Sparrows, and in the afternoon I hear Gray Catbirds in addition to the ones I have heard earlier during the day.
    • Alicia
      Participant
      Chirps: 24
      Activity #1: It rained last night in the city. I have been watching the American Robins foraging in neighborhood lawns. One used its bill to probe around in the grass and then pulled up an earthworm. It hopped over to another location and began to swallow the worm.
    • Janet
      Participant
      Chirps: 12
      1. I watched a Robin sitting on an electric wire. He sat for a while, not singing but lifting one wing and (it looked like) scratching under it. I learned from your video that birds do scratch their itches. I have also watched robins and sparrows wash themselves in a container of water in our backyard. 2. Behavior at our sunflower seed feeder does vary: a number of sparrows come, eat for a while and then head for a hedge; the resident cardinal pair flies from a bush, eats at the feeder (where the sparrows sometimes get aggressive) and on the ground; the one chickadee swoops in for a seed and then flies to a tree branch to eat it. 3. Early one morning, I turned on Merlin and then forgot about it-in 20 minutes 17 birds were identified, mostly common ones to this area. Earlier this spring (May 5) in a nearby park with a stream, Merlin identified 28 different species, including five kinds of Warblers, an Indigo Bunting, two Orioles, an American Redstart, a Waterthrush and a Yellow-breasted Chat!
    • Jeanne
      Participant
      Chirps: 4
      I have a couple of hummingbird feeders & I have definitely observed the territorial fights between the birds over the feeders & flowers; such a dive bombing each other especially when one is at the feeder another will come & do a quick fly by & scare the bird that is feeding!
    • Barbara
      Participant
      Chirps: 1
      We saw all of these behaviors at our feeders
    • Sarah
      Participant
      Chirps: 18
      Today, I was with a group for a 'tree walk', when we heard bird mobbing calls. It is so cool to come home and have this be in the lesson today.
    • Cheryl
      Participant
      Chirps: 10
      Activity 3: I stepped out onto the back patio and could hear a Robin singing his heart out. Two Ring-billed Gulls flew overhead and squawked. A Blue Jay called from behind in a tree from the front yard and a Cardinal over to my right sang out. A little Dark-eyed Junco cheeped from a bush. The gulls were the only birds I could see from my vantage point.
    • Cheryl
      Participant
      Chirps: 10
      Activity 2: House Sparrows come in groups and fight over the perches. They like the feeder, but will forage from underneath it too. We have a second feeder which allows both perching and clinging birds to visit. The Chickadees come and get a seed and quickly leave. The Red-breasted and White-breasted Nuthatches stay a little longer. Sometimes the White-breasted Nuthatch will pull out seeds he doesn't want and drop them. His stay is about 10 seconds going around the openings and can do 3 of them in one visit. The Red-breasted stays longer than the Chickadee, but not as long as the White-breasted Nuthatch. The Downy Woodpeckers, both male and female come separately to visit the feeder, but each will stay on the feeder for about 30 seconds at a time, then going to a tree before returning to the feeder. The male and female Cardinals always come together three times a day and take turns on the feeder while the other is in the tree (preferred by the male) or on the ground foraging with the Juncos and House Sparrows (preferred by the female).
    • Cheryl
      Participant
      Chirps: 10
      Activity 1 A Dark-eyed Junco was the only bird in the yard singing and singing from the forsythia. I recorded him. He flew down under the feeder and pecked and looked up, pecked and looked up, repeating this over and over. He would walk a few steps and do his eating ritual again. After a number of minutes of foraging, he flew back to the forsythia and stayed for about 15 seconds before flying higher into a burning bush where he stayed for an additional 30 seconds before flying off.
    • Jessica
      Participant
      Chirps: 4
      There are so many blue jay cardinal red bellied woodpecker morning doves
    • Karen
      Participant
      Chirps: 5
      activity 1: yesterday afternoon, I was watching a pair of mourning doves in my yard. They were sitting next to each other on the ground preening themselves.  When one walked a little bit away, the other would follow.  Then they started preening each other, by poking the other on the neck.  I read in "all about birds" that this is a pair bonding ritual. activity 2: I have 2 feeders with black oil sunflower seeds.  I mostly get house finches at them.  They will stay for several minutes on the feeders, or fly away briefly and come back.  Occasionally, a lesser or American goldfinch will come, but not stay very long.  Sometimes a jay will swoop in and hang on the feeder to get seeds, then fly away to crack them.  The mourning doves and white crowned sparrows feed on the ground under the feeders.  The doves will stay longer, the sparrows move around more and don't stay long.  It seems like they all eat one seed at a time, but it's hard to tell. activity 3: I have a hard time distinguishing most birds by sound.  I often hear more birds than I see, but am not sure what they are.  I can tell house finches and white crowned sparrows by sound.  I have a hard time telling lesser and American goldfinches apart by sound, but I can tell it's one of the two.  Crows, jays and mockingbirds are easy to tell.
    • Alexandra
      Participant
      Chirps: 8
      1. Great horned owl- Threatening display: The owl expanded its wings and puffed up, opened its eyes really wide and snapped her beak. It was interesting to see that her pupils were different sizes. I saw this in a different species of owl on a video, but not this one.   2. Mourning doves and Blue Jays spend a lot of time at the feeder- they just sit for as long as they can and ignore the other birds. At one time there were 8 Mourning doves on the horizontal feeder! The smaller birds, like cardinals, will say for 20 seconds and leave. On this Cam, they all will take multiple seeds.   3.  Blue Jays, Black-capped Chickadees, Northern Cardinal pair, Mourning Dove, and the American Crow These are the typical northeastern birds. We see them daily. Identifying them is pretty easy, but I have to admit, the Mourning Dove’s coo, until recently, I thought was an owl because of the “hoo-hoo” sound.
    • Vivian
      Participant
      Chirps: 4
      #1 - I observed a palm warbler poking at orange and red small flowers of milkweed this afternoon.  I couldn’t tell if it was enjoying nectar or finding small insects. #2 - Boat tailed grackles remain at the feeder spreading seeds for others to enjoy on the ground, such as mourning doves.  Northern cardinals pick up sunflower seeds at the feeder, jump around nearby branches, and return to the feeder several times before flying away. #3- I recently learned to identify the song of a winter visitor, the palm warbler.  I can readily identify the boat tailed grackle, northern cardinal, blue jay, northern mockingbird bird, anhinga, and great blue heron (birds frequently observed in my backyard).