The Elusive Frog-Bird | Frog or Bird?

For the past three years or so, I’ve been hearing an unusual bird singing from somewhere near the edge of the woods behind our house. I have heard it in various places in the yard and across the street as well. I have yet to see this mysterious bird that I have dubbed the Frog-Bird.

The woods behind our house where many species of birds live and I hear the elusive Frog-Bird  (Photo- Karen Hance)

You’re probably wondering why I refer to this bird as the Frog-Bird. It’s simple- when it sings, it croaks like a frog and tweets like a bird. It sounds something like this- croak, croak, croak, tweet, tweet, tweet. I have searched online birding sites, googled “bird that sounds like a frog” and cannot find a similar sounding bird or anyone else who has heard one. It’s very good at hiding because I’ve heard it many times over the past few years, but have been unable to locate it. I’m convinced it’s a bird rather than a frog because it tweets after it croaks.

Could this be the Frog-Bird? (Photo courtesy of Alexas_Fotos)

I’d love to know if anyone else has ever heard a bird like this one and what kind it might be. It could be another bird, such as a Catbird, mimicking other sounds, but it’s the same song each time, so I’ve pretty much ruled that out. In the mean time, I will keep listening for and searching out the elusive Frog-Bird.

Be sure to check out more of my bird pictures on Instagram at https://www.instagram.com/backyardbirdlady/?hl=en

Happy Birding!

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Bird of the Week | American Robin | Attracting Robins to Your Yard

Until recently, when someone spoke of Robins, I pictured a mid-sized songbird, grayish-brown in color with an orange-red breast and belly. It wasn’t until I started following other “birders” on Instagram that I found out there is another Robin in the world. This not-so-new Robin is the European Robin! American Robins are actually named after the European Robin because of their red breast, and while both are part of the Thrush family, they are not closely related.

(Photo of European Robin courtesy of Wikipedia; American Robin- Karen Hance)

Continue reading Bird of the Week | American Robin | Attracting Robins to Your Yard

The Backyard Birdlady is Back!

It seems like an eternity since I’ve had time to post anything to my blog- April and May have been extremely busy months for me. Between my full-time job, my son’s sporting events and his new job, planning and planting my gardens, taking computer and stained glass making classes, and squeezing in a quick trip to Florida, you can see how that would leave little time for blogging. I really miss the writing and sharing my backyard birding stories with you and hope to get back to it regularly. In the meantime, I have been busy taking lots of photos and videos of the bird activity in our yard and around the area to share with you.

Continue reading The Backyard Birdlady is Back!

Attracting Baltimore Orioles to Your Yard

If you’ve ever seen a Baltimore Oriole, you have witnessed some of natures most profound beauty. With their vibrant orange and black colors, and their distinctive sound, they are almost impossible to mistake. Once they begin showing up in your yard, they may very well become one of your favorite birds.

Female (top) and Male (bottom)

Baltimore Orioles are members of the Blackbird family, and a sub-species of the Northern Oriole. These beautiful birds are most commonly found in woodlands, parks, suburbs and in backyards. They are one of the last birds to arrive in the Spring here in the Northeast, typically arriving in May, and the first to leave in the Fall, heading to warmer climates as early as September. Orioles migrate to Mexico, Central America and South America.

Continue reading Attracting Baltimore Orioles to Your Yard

Good-Bye Winter | Hello Spring

As I look out my window and see the piles of snow slowly melting away, I sit back and reflect on the long Winter we have had. It has been an extremely long season, filled with cold and blustery days, gray skies, and thankfully, below average snowfalls. It is quite a bleak scene with bare trees, brown grass, dirty piles of residual snow and not a flower in sight… Until now!

As I strolled through my yard on a mild March day recently, I caught sight of something beautiful. My Spring bulbs have finally begun to break through the ground! This is truly a sight for sore eyes. Continue reading Good-Bye Winter | Hello Spring

Downy Woodpecker | Bird of the Day

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Male Downy Woodpecker Eating Black Oil Sunflower Seed

Downy Woodpeckers are abundant in areas with lots of trees and are one of the most common Woodpeckers to visit backyard bird feeders. Downy’s are the smallest Woodpeckers in the US and Canada at just 5 3/4 inches (14.6 cm) and bare a very close resemblance to their cousin, the Hairy Woodpecker. In comparison, the Hairy Woodpecker is slightly larger than the Downy, at 7 1/2 inches (19.05 cm) and can be difficult to distinguish apart from a distance.

Downy Woodpeckers are strikingly beautiful little birds with an all-white belly, black & white spotted wings and a white stripe running down their back. They have a black mask-like line running through their eyes, a short black bill and black spots along their white tail. Males have a red marking on the back of their head whereas females do not. The best way to differentiate between the two Woodpeckers is by the size of their bills. The Downy’s bill is actually shorter than the length of its head, whereas the Hairy’s bill is as long, or longer than its head. We’ve actually been lucky enough to see both of them together, side by side.

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Downy Woodpecker Nest in our Bird House

Downy Woodpeckers have 1 brood per year, laying 3-8 white eggs with no markings. Incubation is about 11-12 days, with both Mom and Dad taking turns keeping the eggs warm, Mom during the day and Dad at night. Both parents feed the young once hatched and the fledglings leave the nest after about 20-25 days.

A Downy Woodpecker’s diet consists mainly of insects found in rotten wood and trees. They eat large quantities of fruit and seeds during the winter and can often be found at backyard feeders eating suet and seeds. You might even spot them in late Winter and early Spring licking the sap from tree wounds.

These vocal little Woodpeckers make a few different sounds, with the most common one we’ve heard being a high-pitched squeak. Once you see and hear them, you’ll know they are nearby without even seeing them.

There apparently is an ongoing debate as to whether or not Downy Woodpeckers migrate, however, we see them year round where we live. While some populations have declined due to deforestation and urban sprawl, overall they are not said to be threatened.

This little bird is a welcomed addition to any backyard feeding station and super fun to watch. I hope you will begin to see them at your feeders and throughout your yard.

Dreaming of Spring Bird Arrivals, Gardening and Nature Walks…

While contemplating the arrival of a much-anticipated Spring gardening and birding season, I started looking thru pictures of my yard and gardens from the last couple years. All of this made me realize what a bad case of Cabin Fever I have. The Cure? No more snow, warmer temperatures and lots of sunshine!

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Golden Raindrops Crabapple Tree

Besides bird watching, my favorite activity is gardening. Many different species of birds are attracted to a wide variety of flowers, as well as trees and shrubs, not only for food but for nesting and protection from the elements and other wildlife. As odd as it may sound, I’m eagerly looking forward to the day when I can get outside, clean up the yard and gardens, and see the harsh effects of a long winter vanish. I’ve already begun leafing thru seed catalogs, planning my vegetable garden, and deciding which new flowers to incorporate into my gardens this year. My yard consists of gardens filled with an abundance of trees and shrubs, perennials, annuals,  a small pond with a waterfall (great for attracting birds and other wildlife), as well as various garden decor and sculptures throughout. Continue reading Dreaming of Spring Bird Arrivals, Gardening and Nature Walks…