Wednesday, March 31, 2021

Birding at Berryridge

 It's been a fun month of bird-watching at our little farm in the Foothills! 

Early in March, the hens were in what we call their "back 40" yard--a fenced-in area we carved out of the woods for more scratching places. Suddenly, one hen stopped scratching, stretched up her neck, and started buck-buck-bucking like crazy. 

The other 4 hens quickly joined in, heads up, all of them cackling raucously, and John, standing just outside this fenced area, silently beckoned me over. He pointed to an alder tree near the fence line. There sat a barred owl, quietly watching the hens, then us from about 10 feet up--it's coal-black eyes intense.

Interestingly, while the hens were on high alert, our presence didn't seem spook the owl. John and I stepped a little closer, and the owl lazily took off, settling again in a nearby tree. We did it a second time, and once again, the owl flew away, but only a few trees over.

We left the owl to its own devices, and ushered the bucking hens into their pen, where they quieted down. The owl  hasn't returned, at least as far as we know. But a week later...

A hawk in our woods
It was mid-morning, but John and I hadn't yet let the girls out of their caged pen. Impatient to be in their fenced-in yard, the hens were all clustered on the big-leaf maple stump they liked to hang out on. Just then, a red-tailed hawk glided right over their pen--and in a flash, all 5 girls were instantly across the pen and into the coop. 

Yet how all 5 hens got through their little door simultaneously remains a mystery!

A week ago, a bald eagle settled onto the very top of a massive Douglas fir tree at the edge of our property. It's a favorite spot for the raptors in our neighborhood, but this time, the bird sat up their for over an hour! I could swear he was looking toward the hens, busily scratching in one of our orchards, but never made a move. At about 150 yards away, he was apparently too far from the hens for them to take notice. Still, whew! Felt like a close call.   

Getting a bird's-eye view

The last few years, game birds have been showing up around our little woodland lane. This past week, a grouse (ruffed grouse, I think) has visited our place, just outside our garden fence, several times! I'm hoping the spot becomes a regular feeding area.

Grouse are visiting!

And a few days ago, I saw our first hummingbird of the season! We've transplanted April-blooming wild currant all around our house--it's a favorite food source for hummingbirds--and this one was checking out the buds, which were not yet open. (He flew away before we could get a pic--but here's one from summer, a couple of years ago.)
Hummingbird in the bee balm

Happily, the currant bushes will soon be in bloom, and if past Aprils are any indication, it will be a veritable hummingbird party in our yard! 

What interesting birds have you seen lately?

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