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

    • Gabrielle
      Participant
      Chirps: 6
      We have been observing Black-capped Chickadees at our feeder for the past 3 months. In the last 2 weeks or so we have noticed a change in their behaviors. They used to come to the feeder one at a time, take one seed, fly away to a tree to eat it before returning for another seed and then repeating this a few times. Lately, a group of 3-8 chickadees will congregate at the feeder, take many seeds before flying away, making lots of noise and ruffling their feathers frequently, even scaring away larger birds like finches.
    • Barbara
      Participant
      Chirps: 3
      I was watching a Northern Mockingbird in my neighbor's shrub ground area tonight.  The mockingbird flashed its white wing bands, hopped a bit farther, and repeated this action 4 or 5 times. Mockingbirds are very common in central Florida but I had not seen this behavior.  I read that some feel they may be trying to startle insects in order to flesh them out for eating.  Any other reasons for this behavior?  
    • Carol
      Participant
      Chirps: 12
      Activity 2 I have been watching birds at my Feeders in the last month. The White Throated sparrow and White crowned are mainly ground feeders and are under the feeder getting what falls down.( unfortunately they have now left) The Juncos were ground feeders mainly. I had Clay Colored sparrows at my feeders.  The Flickers in the yard are not at my feeder but on the lawn looking for food. The House and Purple finchs are at the feeder and they seem to really like the one with sunflower seeds. They also have been at the Oriole Feeder. The American Goldfinch are at the feeders. The House Sparrows are mostly at the feeders but also on the ground. The Rose Breasted Grosbeak was mainly at feeder.The Chipping Sparrow is mainly at Feeder.  The Mourning Dove was mainly feeding on ground under feeder at things dropped down. I had Cedar Waxwings one day but they only in my apple tree eating blossoms. The Baltimore Oriole was mainly at the Oriole feeder, unfortunately he is not around much
    • Mavis
      Participant
      Chirps: 4
      The male Black hooded Oriole Visits the jelly dish multiple times a day, all day long.  Stays 3 seconds, gulps 3 bites and flies away?  Feeding young? Or mama n the nest? We recognize his call now.
    • Alexis
      Participant
      Chirps: 5
      I saw this mallard duck in a spot I’d only thought of as a man-made mess. He very kindly fed at the surface of the water and ducked his head into the water, including pulling up some greens. 9A06CB2E-83F7-4BC4-849A-10816EFCCB91871E88D2-5CB6-4D43-B45C-0418EF2FAF7249FB3A48-67C3-4507-ACCF-E2F368D5CC5C
    • Aixa
      Participant
      Chirps: 5
      Bird Cam feeding observations: The Mourning Doves stay on the flat surface feeding, for the most part. Saw one feeding from one of the cylindrical feeders -- the one close enough to the rectangular platform on which the bird was standing. A Red-Bellied Woodpecker holds on and eats pecking at one of the cylindrical feeders. The same with the Downy Woodpecker. The Common Grackle is an equal opportunity and aggressive feeder. They feed from all feeders. Also, one flew into the rectangular platform holding an insect in its beak and pestered a Mourning Dove to move over so he could also grab some seed. The European Starlings, the Blue Jays and the Red-Winged Blackbirds try all the various feeding stations. Haven't seen a bird feeding from the oranges yet.  
    • Rachel
      Participant
      Chirps: 3
      I'd been enjoying my Baltimore Oriole feeder, multiple sightings everyday until we were sitting out on the patio, and the male came multiple times yelling at us and flying away.  Now they seem to have stopped coming, hoping its just a short time before they feel comfortable about feeding there again!
    • Vicki g
      Participant
      Chirps: 21
      Activity 2 at the feeder: as I have been practicing my photography/identification sitting still at my still sparsely visited feeder, I have been observing the different feeding behaviors. The goldfinches will perch for a good while on the thistle feeder eating (allowing many pics, thank you!). black capped chicadee and song sparrow and chipping sparrow are definitely prettyIMG_8354 quick grab and go at the sunflower feeder. I can watch the chickadee as it approaches from nearby tree branches, and then swiftly returns (but not as swiftly as the sparrows). The sparrows, on the other hand, more particularly the song sparrow, will also drop down to the ground to continue feeding on any spillage or other things. Fun to watch the white breasted nut hatch hop down and up vertically. The downy woodpecker at my suet feeder is quite shy to movement or noise ... he/she (I have had both) seem in no hurry to fly off, unless they catch a movement from me or a noise. There is a male cardinal that seems (my imagination?) in charge of letting the rest of the bird world know what is happenning in my yard. He and the she as well, do't seem to frequent the feeders much, but he is often perched on the outside shower or somewhere else int he yard, and seems to call out after I have added seed, etc.  Activity 3: songs - I love the songs, I have become more awake to the different songs and calls (albeit realizing that sometimes quite different melodies may be from the same bird-song) but I have realized that song memory is very difficult for me. OH - but, as I love to watch the hunting birds, some time ago I learned to be alert for mobbing and watch the skies - for the emergencence of a hawk being mobbed etc
    • Vicki g
      Participant
      Chirps: 21
      Activity 1 - I have been going back regularly to one particular harbor quite near me, just to watch the geese and couple of ducks, and on occasion certain shore birds that drop by. The behaviors of the Canada Geese feeding and seemingly resting in this area have come to interest me - especially all the different and gorgeous neck movements of the geese ... for example as they were accompanying this gosling v. as they are elegantly or cozily feeding on grasses. I was also curious last night about a group of 5 adults in one spot, and a single goose about 30 yard away who did not move into "their" spot until they had departed. IMG_8282  
    • Sarah
      Participant
      Chirps: 8
      Activity 3: I listened to bird songs outside by our bird feeder for 5 minutes, and thought I picked out 5 different songs/calls.  It was definitely a chorus out there-there was constant sound from the birds and confusing to listen and pick out individual songs, and then keep track of what I had already heard or what was distinct or new.  I recognized the red winged blackbird song, and common grackle had a chipping sound as it was close at the feeder.  My other guesses from checking in with Merlin ID are black capped chickadee, because I've seen them around lately, and various warblers and finches based on songs or chirps I was hearing but can't identify specifically.  This activity goes to show my ears can use a lot of practice listening to and picking out bird song.  It was fun, though!
    • Mary Alice Smith
      Participant
      Chirps: 4
      Activity 1 - Have been watching red-tailed hawk in my back yard. He swoops through occasionally with a flock of vigilant grackles or crows mobbing him. Other times he sits perched in a tree scanning the area, presumably for prey. The other day he was perched on a large limb of an oak with grackles mobbing him, making quite a din. He did not budge. Observing him, I noticed he had prey between his claws and was eating it. At one point, he dropped some. My neighbor joined me and pointed out that he was raiding a nest. The portion dropped was a nestling. He finished all the contents of the nest, then swooped down to retrieve the dropped bird and flew off, grackles in noisy pursuit. Activity 2 - I have an oriole feeder outside filled with grape jelly and oranges. The orioles love it and are now on their third jar of jelly. They seem to drink the jelly, dipping their beaks in then raising them. The also hang from the feeder to peck out the pulp of the oranges. They make quite a racket of chittering calls when they feel threatened. A kind of warning, I suppose. Catbirds also frequent the feeder. They perch on it and voraciously bury their beaks in the jelly. They feed at the oranges too, but more often from the perch. The orioles feed from dawn to dusk, most frequently certain times of day. Cardinals also visit the feeder, but less frequently. The orioles are the most aggressive, often chasing the catbirds away. Activity 3 - It's mid-day and the birds are less vocal. They are flying back and forth across the driveway. I can hear finches singing. Grackles mobbing a hawk. Occasionally a nestling calls to its parents for food. A Great Crested Flycatcher and Baltimore Orioles occasionally call from the treetops.
    • natsuko
      Participant
      Chirps: 2
      P5225556 (2)P5225557 (2) Activity 1 : I often see White-cheeked Starlings these days while walking around my neighbour. I have not noticed them before but once recognized, they became one of my regulars. They usually walk on glass fields carelessly, looking for foods. I do not know what they eat.
    • Mary Ann
      Participant
      Chirps: 13
      S2D2F1E81-8DBB-449E-B9F5-CB44C118BCDB Sorry, I had trouble posting these pictures-Pileated Woodpecker and I thought this was a Yellow Warbler at my bird feeder. 29BF299C-7D72-49C3-99A6-AFCE235130C1
    • Mary Ann
      Participant
      Chirps: 13
      1. I was walking thru a state park in NY and came upon  a Pileated Woodpecker on a huge dead tree log. I just read that these woodpecker make rectangular holes to find carpenter ants. He (she?) was so busy feeding that I was able  to watch for awhile. 2. The Mouring Doves at the bird feeder always remain on the ground. I just read that they peck and push ground  cover around, never scratch at it. I thought I had a yellow warbler at bird feeder but I just read they don’t come to feeders because they eat mostly insects. 3. On a walk in my neighborhood, I heard an unusual call and looked up and saw a Baltimore Oriole. On a another walk, I heard a Rose-breasted Grosbeak before I found it. The Gray Catbird is very distinctive and they seem to give long, complex songs.  
    • Deanna
      Participant
      Chirps: 2
      I watched a robin, it was standing on the ground in the yard singing but did not seem to be foraging for food. There are also sparrows in the yard and several other bird calls beside the robin
    • Patrick
      Participant
      Chirps: 8
      After about 10 minutes listening different I could identify a blue Jay, chipping sparrow, house wren, and also a morning dove. It was interesting who many different sounds these birds can make.
    • Vashti
      Participant
      Chirps: 5
      2.  At our feeder in winter, the chickadees land at the feeder, pick one sunflower seed, then fly over to the hawthorn tree, hold the seed with their toes, and peck until they get the seed open.  The redpolls mostly land on the deck as a group, and hop around, sifting through the sunflower seeds that have been scattered.  They eat the seeds while standing on the deck.  The hairy woodpecker lands on the feeder and digs thrugh the seeds, scattering sunflowers all over the deck.  He finally selects one, then flies back to the aspen trees on the edge of the yard. 3. Today out my window, i here lots of robins and white throated sparrows, and an occasional raven.  I hear several other bird calls, but I haven't got them figured out yet.  Maybe a chipping sparrow and a yellow rumped warbler?
    • Julie
      Participant
      Chirps: 13
      Activity 1 - Today I saw a Hutton's Vireo bathing in the fountain in our backyard. We just learned about cleaning, so the timing was great. The bird started at the top tier of the fountain, which is a very small area, about 10 inches across, with moving water coming into it. He would jump in, shake his feathers, then hop to a nearby branch on a shrub to clean his beak. Now that I know that rubbing the beak on a branch is a form of cleaning, I could see that he was doing a cleaning routine - fountain to branch, then repeat. It took him a while. I read about them on All About Birds, it says they appear in twos which does seem to be the case, because I have seen the other one.
    • Marlene
      Participant
      Chirps: 17
      Hello everyone. We've enjoyed watching all the birds this Memorial Day weekend. Many different behaviors observed now that I know what to look for. Many different feeding habits for different birds. The Baltimore Orioles love the thick slices of oranges we are providing them. Almost more than the liquid feeder. Amazing how quickly they can extract the juices from the pulp of the oranges with their pointed beaks. Two female turkeys have also become regulars underneath the bird feeders in the last two weeks. They scratch the earth to make sure they get every last seed that falls. We also see a male Cardinal who prefers to show up just at dusk on many evenings. We see him during the day, but much more often in the early evening. The Eastern Bluebirds are my favorites right now. They are busy picking at the ground for bugs. We also started putting out some meal worms and they seem to love them. I have one female bluebird who perches on a shepherds hook by my window and preens herself early each morning. She fluffs and seems to be drying her feathers. This is also one time I can actually get a closer look at the pretty blue feathers under her wings. Northeast Wisconsin. 20200525_072235[1]20200525_073205[1]
    • Laura
      Participant
      Chirps: 7
      Activity One - We just put up a feeder here on Long Island, NY, but birds are taking awhile to visit it. There are a couple of "regulars" already though- one a Downy Woodpecker and another that looks like a Finch. The Sparrows seem to prefer to peck at the seed that falls below the feeder. I have had trouble observing bird behavior for any length of time because they birds in our backyard fly away quickly. Activity Two - I enjoy watching the Cornell Bird Cam. I have observed that the Mourning Doves try to be as inconspicuous as possible when they are at the feeder, particularly when the Grackles show up. The Cardinals are similar and stay on nearby branches awhile until it looks like it's safe to be on the feeder. The Woodpeckers however do not seem as cautious, and once on the feeder, they seem pretty comfortable. Activity Three - I can now identify the Blue Jay's call as well as the Robin's song and that of the Black-Capped Chickadee. I often hear the birds singing before sunrise.
    • Wendy
      Participant
      Chirps: 3
      House Sparrows enjoy dust bathing in the dry, sandy patches of my backyard. I wondered if they might prefer a water bathing area, so I bought a 20" plastic birdbath (the hanging type) but placed it in a raised planter bed instead of suspending it. So far, I have observed only one sparrow using it! So dust bathing must be very effective as a means for cleaning feathers.
    • Richard
      Participant
      Chirps: 20
      Activity 3 Noticing behaviors, Listening to birds,  I had two song listening experience yesterday.  I went to take a daily picture at a pond where Ibis with friends like to gather.  As I arrived a flock of 30+ Ibis took off and flew away before I had my camera out of the car.  They started to dribble back one at a time, but only 30 feet from me a redwing blackbird landed on some long reeds.  He picked a particular reed and shimmied down the reed to someplace near the water and out of my view. I theorized he was either eating or more likely there was a nest down there.  His "red wing" had faded so I think it was after the beginning of the breeding season.  He chirped a few times to another blackbird without a red wing patch who remained about 15 feet down the shoreline on another reed.  They chirped back and forth.  Then the unmarked (female?) burst into song.  Recently I read that northern birds both males and females sing but southern birds exclusively males sing.  As I see the red winged blackbird  in MA as well, along with cardinals and blue jays quite regularly, I guess the rule is not hard and fast or maybe applies to only the species that don't change or span large ranges of latitudes. The male and female are shown below.P5200107P5200116Later in the day I was listening on my lanai and I head a sound like the end of the northern cardinal (who seems to live year rounding southwest Florida).  The song was moving slowly from my right to my left.  I finally caught sight of the cardinal quite low in the trees and shrubs.  It was definitely a male cardinal.  I didn't get his photo but have included one of my favorites from last year pretty close to the same place and time in 2019.cardianal leaf side I guess this guy just likes the last half of his song.  He didn't do the first two long notes, just started in the middle doing the staccato notes.  I had thought the ever so noisy mockingbirds were the ones doing partials on the cardinal song but by paying attention for the course I found I was wrong.
      • Karen
        Participant
        Chirps: 11
        I like your story about the Red-winged Blackbirds. I see them a lot in the cat tails around a small lake I walk by every day.
      • Catherine
        Participant
        Chirps: 17
        Red-winged blackbirds are very common in my area (Island of Montreal), but I've never seen one with so much orange on the wings (your first photo): maybe regional, or just the way the wings fluffed? Catherine
    • Cynthia
      Participant
      Chirps: 2
      Went on a nature walk and saw several birds and heard several birds. Birds we saw were: Yellow-rumped warbler, Blue-headed vireo, Dark-eyed Junco, Chipping Sparrows, Mallards, and geese. Birds we heard were: Wood Thrush, Robins, Yellow Warblers, Pileated Woodpecker, Morning Doves, Cardinals, Black-throated Green Warbler, White-breasted Nuthatch, Blue Jays, Wood Duck, and a Black-capped Chickadee. It was pretty awesome to see so many birds and hearing all the different birds was amazing also.
    • Charlotte
      Participant
      Chirps: 10
      Several ruby throated hummingbirds have been active at my feeders however despite the multitude of flowers I have provided, all of which are hummingbirds' favorites, they seem to prefer the feeders. Having researched this behavior it seems that it should be the opposite as flowers should be the preferred food. So I am not sure why this seems to be the case.
    • Kristine
      Participant
      Chirps: 4
      I tuned in to the Cornell Lab Feeder Cam and dropped into a bird party! Common Grackles, one Blue Jay, one Red-Winged Blackbird, a Red-Bellied Woodpecker, male and female Northern Cardinal, a couple European Starlings, a Mourning Dove, and a little guy I couldn't ID. It was interesting to see how the woodpecker seemed to prefer of hanging under the feeder, and how it seemed to prefer some feeders over the others. The woodpecker also showed some aggressive postures toward birds that came too close. The others were chill about sharing space. Oh, now everyone is gone and a squirrel is just sitting in the feeder lol