Photo Life List #13 - American Kestrel

Most of the time I see American Kestrels on wires while driving. Well, while someone else is driving. These small falcons hunt from high perches which make the wires very useful to them. They also hover over fields to search for their prey. They eat large insects and small mammals, birds and reptiles. I have noticed them eating insects and once trying to catch a bird.

American Kestrel
American Kestrel

We were birding along the road in Northwest Ohio and we spotted the American Kestrel perched on a wire. After my Mom pulled over I got a picture before it flew. According to the Lives of North American Birds by Kenn Kaufman this species is declining in the Northeast but elsewhere the populations are still healthy.

Photo Life List

  1. Wild Turkey
  2. Ring-necked Pheasant
  3. Turkey Vulture
  4. Green Heron
  5. Pileated Woodpecker
  6. Common Loon
  7. Yellow Warbler
  8. Yellow-breasted Chat
  9. American Robin
  10. Mississippi Kite
  11. Tennessee Warbler
  12. Oregon Junco
  13. American Kestrel

American Robin Warfare

General Mockingbird has been gathering his American Robin troops and military Blue Jay planes which have been dropping bombs for the past week. Their mission: to take out THE BERRIES and THE STARLING GUARDS.

Northern Mockingbird
General Mockingbird

Their plan was for the robins to gather as many arms as they could and to take out all berries in a mass descent. The Blue Jays were to drop poop bombs on the starlings. General Mockingbird’s position was up in the trees watching his robin soldiers take out the berries.

American Robins
American Robin Troops waiting for the signal to strike

Saturday morning 0800 hours…
General Mockingbird wasted no time in assembling the troops. The Blue Jays were ready. The American Robins were ready. American Crow snipers were on standby in a nearby cornfield. Canada Geese planes intimidated the berries in a flyover.

General Mockingbird called, “Blue Jays, bombs away!” “Robins strike!”

American Robins
Robins in berry-attacking mode - Photo by Jennie

Saturday 1300 hours…
All of a sudden General Mockingbird was being attacked by starling troops. They came from both sides. General Mockingbird had no choice but to attack. With the help of an ally Downy Woodpecker, he got away and the Blue Jays were there to back him up.

Saturday 1500 hours….
The berries never stood a chance. Although the starlings got their fill, General Mockingbird and his troops were the ultimate winners. Will the berries and starlings come back for another battle next year? We’ll just have to wait and see.

American Robins
Robins troops sitting in the trees exhausted and cold but certainly stuffed! - Photo by Jennie

Moving to Ohio

It’s been over a year since I’ve posted anything on my site. I am going to start up posting again and wanted to share some news first.

Me and my Mom recently moved to Findlay, Ohio. I really like it here. We got an apartment and the view is tremendous.
Findlay, Ohio yard view
Our Yard - Photo by Jennie

Our backyard list is growing already despite the bad weather. We have more than a foot of snow on the ground. I am going to be joining the Young Birder’s Club and we live about an hour away from Kenn and Kim Kaufman! (brag, brag brag!) :-)

We have also been birding to a couple of places and had fun but didn’t really see much.

Litzenberg Memorial Woods
Litzenberg Memorial Woods - Photo by Jennie

Everything about Ohio is new to me but I think I am going to like it here.

Skywatch Friday - A Beautiful Church

Church in Northern Illinois

This church was in Lee County in northern Illinois. I took this photo on the way home from the Bald Eagle Weekend at Starved Rock State Park.


My Second Lifer of the Year - Spotted Towhee

Today, I went with my Mom and my Uncle Eddie to see a Spotted Towhee that was seen on a farm in nearby Ogle County, Illinois. When we got there we met the owners who were super nice. They are nature lovers and had lots of neat deer photos to show us.

Spotted Towhee
Spotted Towhee - Photo by Birdfreak

We immediately saw the Spotted Towhee inside of a barn. He bounced around on the hay bales and flew around the rafters. He looked healthy and happy.

Eddie took a lot of photos, but I did not take any this time. It was exciting to see a new bird in the middle of January, and this is my second lifer this year! My other lifer was a Thayer’s Gull.

Spotted Towhee
Spotted Towhee - Photo by Birdfreak

Starved Rock Bald Eagle Weekend

Yesterday, we went to work at the NCIOS Bird Club’s booth at the Starved Rock Eagle Days event sponsored by the Illinois Audubon Society. On our way there we saw six Red-tailed Hawks perched along the highway. It was sunny but very cold.

Hangin With the Bald Eagle
Me and the Wandering Bald Eagle - Photo by Birdfreak

When we got there we set up. Barbara Williams of the bird club (who is a taxidermist) was getting ready to mount an adult Red-tailed Hawk that had been found dead in a field. I helped explain to visitors part of the display that had a Red-tailed Hawk wing and foot and a Great Horned Owl wing and foot. It was fun to describe these parts to people especially seeing their surprise at the sharpness of their talons.

I watched Barbara skin the body of the bird and how she stuffed it. Halfway through watching, I felt nauseous and unfortunately that was it for me. I decided to hang out with this cool herpetologist that was there for a bit until I felt better. I got to hold a Ball Python and a giant cockroach. The cockroach was actually hissing at me and tried to crawl up my shirt.

Barb Williams handling the big crowd - photo by Birdfreak

I did get to see the raptor show done by the World Bird Sanctuary. They brought a Harris’s Hawk named Sheldon, a Bald Eagle called Patriot, a Barn Owl named Goblin, a Bateleur (from Africa!) and a lot more cool raptors.

The event was extra exciting because I was more than just a visitor. I got to meet a lot of cool people and learned a lot of new information about birds. I can’t wait to help out at another event like this.

Great Horned Owl and Red-tailed Hawk Foot - Photo by Birdfreak

Field Trip to Starved Rock State Park (Eagles and a Lifer!)

Today I went on a field trip with my birding club to Starved Rock State Park to search for gulls and Bald Eagles on the Illinois River.

Once we got there we went up to the lock by the dam on this balcony overlooking the river. It was really windy but not as cold as yesterday’s below zero temperatures. There were tons of Herring Gulls and Bald Eagles. There were tons of different plumages of juvenile Bald Eagles. There were also a lot of Common Mergansers, a few Common Goldeneyes, one Redhead, a Red-breasted Merganser and some Canada Geese.

One of the trip leaders from my bird club Dan Williams spotted a Thayers Gull and I hurried to get a look. This was a life bird for me! I was very excited to finally see one.

We also watched a barge come into the lock. It was pushing and breaking ice to get in and as it was coming in gulls and eagles were swooping around catching and grabbing fish. It was really cool.

Although it was pretty cold, I was so glad that I went on the field trip.

Bald Eagle (Digiscoped)
One of the many Bald Eagles we saw - Photo by Birdfreak

Too Cool For School

I woke up this morning and it was -14 degrees outside! Then I found out school was canceled. The high today is -2 and tonight it will be -18. This gives me a FIVE DAY WEEKEND!

But not so lucky for the birds. Birds have many ways to keep warm in this kind of weather. They fluff up their feathers and their feet don’t feel the cold as much. Sometimes they will tuck one foot under to keep warm.

They also keep up a high metabolic rate. They eat lots of energy foods like seeds and suet. Birds can sometimes freeze to death though which is sad.

Keep warm everyone. I hope it warms up for the Saturday birding trip I am supposed to go on to see Bald Eagles!

Lapland Longspur and Horned Lark
Lapland Longspur and Horned Lark - Photo by Birdfreak

First Bird of the Year - Pine Siskin

Happy New Year everyone!

I got up at seven thirty when my uncle called me to his window to take a look at the backyard thistle feeders. I looked out and saw Pine Siskins mixed with American Goldfinches. Since I saw the Pine Siskin first, that is my bird for the year of 2009.

…and then I went back to bed.

Pine Siskin and American Goldfinch
Pine Siskin and American Goldfinch - by Birdfreak

Skywatch Friday - Starling

Happy Skywatch Friday!

European Starling
I took this photo back in September. I love how blue the sky was that day.

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