Birds in my Backyard
("BIMBY" for short!)

The birds on this page
were visitors to my Fairfax, VA, apartment
between 1993 and 2005.

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FINAL UPDATE: May 27, 2005 at 1:15pm

Here is the list (alphabetized by common name)
of the 24 bird species that I have seen
in my Northern Virginia backyard,
since I first put up the feeder in 1994.

Click on whichever one(s) interest you
or just scroll down the page to see them all!

Click here to view a description of the icons used on this webpage (Pop-up)

American Tree Sparrow   |   Boat-Tailed Grackle   |   Bluejay   |

|   Carolina Chickadee   |     Carolina Wren   |

Canada Goose   |   Cowbird   |   Crow   |

|   Slate-Colored Junco   |   Downy Woodpecker   |   European Starling   |

|   Hawk   |     Hermit Thrush   |   House Finch   |   House Sparrow   |

|   Mourning Dove   |     Pileated Woodpecker   |   Red-bellied Woodpecker   |

|   Red Cardinal |   Robin   |   Savannah Sparrow   |   Song Sparrow   |

|   Titmouse   |   White-breasted Nuthatch   |
Possible new sightings but no photos:

        Eastern Meadowlark (2005) - Juvenile male
        Unknown (2005) - Similar to Grackle but with slate gray body and charcoal black cap
Food Rules!

I make it a rule never to put the feeder out until after Thanksgiving
and the temperature falls below 55F at noon for at least one week
(this year, the feeder was put out on December 15, 2004).

This is to prevent the birds from becoming dependent on the feeder,
and, thereby, not fulfilling their natural niche by gobbling up bugs and stuff,
not to mention that they might forget to fly to warmer climes,
if they think there's an abundance of food, here!

I remove the feeder
after the outside temperature has broken 65 degrees
for at least one week, usually in May
(this year, the feeder was put away on May 16, 2005).

Birds in my Backyard
(listed alphabetically by name)
(images may not be to scale)


* (see copyright notice)
American Tree Sparrow (1994/1999/2000)

It doesn't seem to care what's on the menu,
and will eat alone or with its friends.
However, it can get rather raucous
when it tries to usurp a more dominant
sparrow from a choice perch!
Bluejay (2001/2001/2005)

It cannot perch on the feeder,
so this noisy bird feeds
on the scraps left on the ground
by its smaller cousins. Its large beak forces it
to tilt its head to the side and scoop up the bit of food.
They occasionally present a morsel to each other,
much as the Red Cardinal does,
but I've only seen males share with other males
(come to think of it, I haven't seen
any female Blue Jays at all!).
Boat-Tailed Grackle (2003/2003/2004)
I am not 100% certain of the species!

He ignored the plentiful amount of seed on the ground,
and made several attempts to alight on the bird feeder,
but was too big and heavy, so he flew away!
Canada Goose (1996/----/1996)

A man-made stream brings this fearless fowl near my home,
announcing itself with loud honking!
It performs mowing chores around the yard
and then leaves lots of cigar-shaped reminders of its visit!
Carolina Chickadee (1995/2003/2005)

This pretty, little bird will rarely perch on the feeder,
while other birds are on it.

Carolina Wren (2001/2003/2005)

When this bird made its first appearance in 2001,
it moved so quickly
that I couldn't identify it until the Summer of 2002!
There are at least two of them,
and their trills dominate the other birds' calls
(the Red Cardinal was the previous "King of Calls").
Cowbird (2001/2001/2003)

Its iridescent feathers glisten in the light
like mother-of-pearl.
Each time I chased away this notorious parasite,
it seemed to get bolder and bolder,
and, eventually, wouldn't fly away until I got
within a few inches of it!
At one point, it flew to a nearby tree,
and seemed to cry plaintively.
Crow (1994/2003/2005)

Ever-present in the trees,
but never at the feeder!
Downy Woodpecker (2002/2003/2005)

2002: A female downy made her first appearance at the feeder.
She doesn't have any trouble perching on the feeder,
but will rarely do so if other birds are around.

2005: A male downy was seen for the first time at the feeder.
European Starling (2003/2004/2005)

One tried to use the feeder,
but wasn't successful, so it gave up!

On January 24, 2003, a flock of about 20 Robins
swarmed my backyard,
with an equal number of European Starlings
following them move-for-move!

Hawk (1996/1996/2005)
It might be a Northern Harrier, but I'm not sure.

1996: On rare occasion, a hawk makes an appearance,
but only visually; it has never made a sound.
Unfortunately, I cannot determine its species.
One time, while perching on a tree branch,
and minding its own business,
a daring squirrel climbed up the 30-foot tree
and, astonishingly, leaped at the hawk,
who flew away, most indignant!

2005: A rather raucous hawk has made itself known
with its sharp, staccato, yet plaintive, calls.
From its distant perch,
this hawk appears to be different than the 1996 one,
so it may not even be the same species
(the hawk was about 30 yards from my window when I recorded it).

Hermit Thrush (2005/----/----)
I am not 100% certain of the species!

It landed on a tree branch and flew away.
House Finch (1997/2001/2002)

The finches that I have seen are not nearly
as bright red as shown in the picture,
nor does the red extend so far down their breast.
House Sparrow (1994/2004/2005)

It drops by on occasion with friends in tow!
Slate-Colored Junco (2002/2004/2005)

They have never used the feeder,
though their sparrow-like size wouldn't prevent it.
Mourning Dove (1994/2004/2005)

This opportunist waits for others
to spill food from the feeder,
and becomes rather indignant if those same birds
dare try to rescue a fallen prize tidbit!
Its sad, subdued call is what gives it its name.

Pileated (crested) Woodpecker (2005/----/----)
A new visitor to BIMBY!

It silently pecked at a recently cut tree,
then moved onto dead wood, and then a live tree.
I guess it isn't too picky about where it eats!

Red-bellied Woodpecker (2002/2004/2005)

It visits my feeder every day,
barely managing to fit on the perch
for a few quick bites.
It makes itself known not only by its tree-hammering,
but, more often, by its trill.
It will bully all other birds that attempt
to use the feeder, but it always gives fair warning
as to its presence by its very loud trill,
long before it swoops in for a snack,
and continues trilling until it has had its fill
(I suppose he duz it for da "trill" of it all!).
Red Cardinal (1994/2004/2005)

This stunningly-colored bird has a delightful chirp.
I have often seen it take a morsel from the feeder
and give it to its mate, beak-to-beak!
The male will feed the female, and vice-versa!
Love birds in deed, if not in name!

It is the only bird that visits the feeder after sunset.

On May 29, 2001, I witnessed odd (to me!) behavior.
          Click here to read about it! (Pop-up)
Robin (1994/2003/2005)

I have seen this "Harbinger of Spring"
throughout the year, but never at the feeder.

In 2000, a pair made a seemingly precarious nest
on the "elbow" of a down-spout
just five yards from the feeder!
Three healthy baby Robins
soon crowded the tiny nest!
Shortly after the nestlings and parents
abandoned the nest,
a Mourning Dove usurped it,
seemingly just for a place to roost!
Eventually, the empty nest was blown off by a storm.

On January 24, 2003, a flock of about 20 Robins
swarmed my backyard,
with an equal number of European Starlings
following them move-for-move!
Savannah Sparrow (2004/2004/2005)

Both the 'true' Savannah and Ipswich variant
have been sighted more frequently
and numerously in my backyard.

Song Sparrow (1994/2004/2005)

As its name suggests,
I delight in its beautiful song!
Titmouse (1996/2004/2005)

('Tit' refers to the pointed tuft on its head,
while 'Mouse' refers to its diminutive size).
It is very picky about what it eats,
usually grabbing a choice morsel
and then flitting away!
It rarely appears with other birds at the feeder,
preferring either solitude or that of its mate.
It has two distinct vocalizations:
(1) a staccato chirp, which I often mistake
for the Red Cardinal, and (2) a 3-5 note song,
much like a Song Sparrow.

White-breasted Nuthatch (1998/2004/2005)

I have nicknamed this charming fellow
the "Beep-Beep" bird,
for the constant noise it makes while climbing trees
or my home's brickwork!
I have often seen it use its needle-like beak
to peck under the bark,
presumably searching for small insects.
Yet, it sometimes deigns to visit my feeder,
as long as no other bird is on it.
Its long toes make it difficult to perch on the feeder,
so I am never surprised to see it hang upside-down,
grab a choice morsel (usually a sunflower seed),
and then rocket away to a nearby tree
to feast on the prize!

"Beep-Beep" is also astonishingly brave!
          Click here to read about it! (Pop-up)

Cornell University has a marvelous website
featuring searchable descriptions, images, and sounds
of many North American birds!

Cornell Lab of Ornithology

Here's what Cornell's staff had to say about BIMBY:

"We enjoyed your site -- the 'X' through the tube feeders
was an especially nice (if not humorous) touch!"
If you like birds,
you'll LOVE this website!
Visit the Parrot Pages!

Click the animated image to 'Air Mail'
your comments, suggestions, and/or criticisms to me!

The above animation was created by the webmaster (see below),
and may be used freely as long as there is a link to this website
on the same web page where it is used.

The descriptions on this webpage
are the non-scientific observations
of an occasional, amateur birder.

The images (some stills and all movies) used on this webpage
are either mine or were obtained through various sources
that are copyright and royalty-free, and in the public domain
(exceptions are indicated by an asterisk (*) next to the bird's image).
  (*) The image of the American Tree Sparrow is copyrighted
by the Newfoundland Museum, Nova Scotia,
and is used with the gracious, written, permission of John E. Maunder, Curator of Natural History,
with my sincerest thanks!

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This website was created by Steve-of-All-Trades