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Y'all Come On In!

Hi and welcome!

We got the idea to start this madness from us sitting on the back patio and watching all our local critter friends. We enjoy it so much so we decided to share it with all y'all as well. 

This is a new adventure and we are still working out all the bugs, but we do have some big plans for the future as we grow. We appreciate your patience as we get things figured out. We're definitely learning as we go. 

Thanks for hanging out with us and hope you enjoy your visit.

 

If you see a bird friend on stream you don't think is listed below, grab a clip of it, and let us know by dropping it in the backyard clips channel on Discord or sending us an email

~ Hula & Hoop

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Year-Round Birds

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  • This common, large songbird is familiar to many people, with its perky crest; blue, white, and black plumage; and noisy calls.

  • Blue Jays lower their crests when they are feeding peacefully with family and flock members or tending to nestlings.

  • The Blue Jay frequently mimics the calls of hawks, especially the Red-shouldered Hawk. These calls may provide information to other jays that a hawk is around, or may be used to trick other species into believing a hawk is present.

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  • This chunky relative of the Mourning Dove gets its name from the black half-collar at the nape of the neck.

  • Eurasian Collared-Doves made their way to North America via the Bahamas, where several birds escaped from a pet shop during a mid-1970s burglary; the shop owner then released the rest of the flock of approximately 50 doves. Others were set free on the island of Guadeloupe when a volcano threatened eruption. The birds likely spread to Florida from these two sites and now can be seen over most of North America.

  • Eurasian Collared-Doves are one of very few species that can drink “head down,” submerging their bills and sucking water as though drinking through a straw. Most birds must scoop water and tip the head back to let it run down into the throat.

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  • John James Audubon named this bird while he was in South Carolina.  

  • In winter, Carolina Chickadees live in flocks of two to eight birds and defend areas against other flocks. Dominant birds in these flocks establish breeding territories in the summer that were part of the winter flock's range.

  • The pair bond between a male and female Carolina Chickadee can remain intact for several years. The probability that a pair will remain together seems to vary among populations, with nearly all pairs remaining together in subsequent years in a study in Texas, but only half staying together in a study in Tennessee.


 

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  • The male Northern Cardinal is probably responsible for getting more people to open up a field guide than any other bird. They’re a perfect combination of familiarity, conspicuousness, and style: a shade of red you can’t take your eyes off.

  • Only a few female North American songbirds sing, but the female Northern Cardinal does, and often while sitting on the nest. This may give the male information about when to bring food to the nest. A mated pair shares song phrases, but the female may sing a longer and slightly more complex song than the male.

  • It is common folklore that a visit from a cardinal represents a sign from a loved one who has passed. While this belief cannot be traced to a single origin, birds have often symbolized heavenly visitors, messengers to the gods, or even the gods themselves in feathered form. This belief has been part of ancient Egyptian, Celtic, Maori, Irish, and Hindu spiritualism, as well as the lore and legends of many Native American tribes.

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  • A graceful, slender-tailed, small-headed dove that’s common across the continent. Mourning Doves perch on telephone wires and forage for seeds on the ground; their flight is fast and bullet straight. Their soft, drawn-out calls sound like laments.

  • Mourning Doves eat roughly 12 to 20 percent of their body weight per day, or 71 calories on average.

  • When taking off, their wings make a sharp whistling or whinnying.

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  • The House Sparrow was introduced into Brooklyn, New York, in 1851. By 1900 it had spread to the Rocky Mountains. Two more introductions in the early 1870s, in San Francisco and Salt Lake City, aided the bird’s spread throughout the West. House Sparrows are now common across all of North America except Alaska and far northern Canada.

  • The House Sparrow's tendency to displace native birds from nest boxes causes some people to resent them.

  • House Sparrows in flocks have a pecking order much the way chickens in a farmyard do. You can begin to decipher the standings by paying attention to the black throats of the males. Males with larger patches of black tend to be older and dominant over males with less black. By wearing this information on their feathers, sparrows can avoid some fights and thereby save energy.

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  • The Carolina Wren is sensitive to cold weather, with the northern populations decreasing markedly after severe winters. The gradually increasing winter temperatures over the last century may have been responsible for the northward range expansion seen in the mid-1900s.

  • Carolina Wrens often come to backyards if food is available and will visit suet-filled feeders in winter. 

  • A pair bond may form between a male and a female at any time of the year, and the pair will stay together for life. Members of a pair stay together on their territory year-round, and forage and move around the territory together.

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  • Fill backyard feeders with small, black oil sunflower seed. If House Finches discover the feeders, they might bring flocks of 50 or more birds with them.

  • The House Finch was originally a bird of the western United States and Mexico. In 1940 a small number of finches were turned loose on Long Island, New York, after failed attempts to sell them as cage birds (“Hollywood finches”). They quickly started breeding and spread across almost all of the eastern United States and southern Canada within the next 50 years.

  • House Finches feed their nestlings exclusively plant foods, a fairly rare occurrence in the bird world. Many birds that are vegetarians as adults still find animal foods to keep their fast-growing young supplied with protein.

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  • Red-bellied Woodpeckers are pale, medium-sized woodpeckers common in forests of the East. Their barred backs and red caps make them an unforgettable sight – just resist the temptation to call them Red-headed Woodpeckers, a somewhat rarer species that's mostly black on the back with big white wing patches.

  • A Red-bellied Woodpecker can stick out its tongue nearly 2 inches past the end of its beak. The tip is barbed and the bird’s spit is sticky, making it easier to snatch prey from deep crevices. Males have longer, wider-tipped tongues than females, possibly allowing a breeding pair to forage in slightly different places on their territory and maximize their use of available food.

  •  If you live near any wooded patches, you may be able to attract them using feeders filled with suet (in winter), peanuts, and sometimes sunflower seeds.

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  • Glossy-black Red-Winged Blackbird males have scarlet-and-yellow shoulder patches they can puff up or hide depending on how confident they feel. Females are a subdued, streaky brown, almost like a large, dark sparrow. 

  • The Red-winged Blackbird is a highly polygynous species, meaning males have many female mates – up to 15 in some cases. In some populations 90 percent of territorial males have more than one female nesting on their territories. But all is not as it seems: one-quarter to one-half of nestlings turn out to have been sired by someone other than the territorial male.

  • Red-winged Blackbirds roost in flocks in all months of the year. In summer small numbers roost in the wetlands where the birds breed. Winter flocks can be congregations of several million birds, including other blackbird species and starlings. Each morning the roosts spread out, traveling as far as 50 miles to feed, then re-forming at night.

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  • Tufted Titmouse are regulars at backyard bird feeders, especially in winter. They prefer sunflower seeds but will eat suet, peanuts, and other seeds as well.

  • Tufted Titmice hoard food in fall and winter, a behavior they share with many of their relatives, including the chickadees and tits. Titmice take advantage of a bird feeder’s bounty by storing many of the seeds they get. Usually, the storage sites are within 130 feet of the feeder. The birds take only one seed per trip and usually shell the seeds before hiding them.

  • Unlike many chickadees, Tufted Titmouse pairs do not gather into larger flocks outside the breeding season. Instead, most remain on the territory as a pair. Frequently one of their young from that year remains with them, and occasionally other juveniles from other places will join them. Rarely a young titmouse remains with its parents into the breeding season and will help them raise the next year's brood.

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  • Those raggedy figures out in cornfields may be called scare-crows, but grackles are the #1 threat to corn. They eat ripening corn as well as corn sprouts, and their habit of foraging in big flocks means they have a multimillion dollar impact.

  • Common Grackles are resourceful foragers. They sometimes follow plows to catch invertebrates and mice, wade into water to catch small fish, pick leeches off the legs of turtles, steal worms from American Robins, raid nests, and kill and eat adult birds.

  • In winter, Common Grackles forage and roost in large communal flocks with several different species of blackbird. Sometimes these flocks can number in the millions of individuals.

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  • The quintessential early bird, American Robins are common sights on lawns across North America, where you often see them tugging earthworms out of the ground.

  • Robins are popular birds for their warm orange breast, cheery song, and early appearance at the end of winter.

  • Although robins are considered harbingers of spring, many American Robins spend the whole winter in their breeding range. But because they spend more time roosting in trees and less time in your yard, you're much less likely to see them. 

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  • The Brown-headed Cowbird is a stocky blackbird with a fascinating approach to raising its young. 

  • The Brown-headed Cowbird is North America’s most common “brood parasite.” A female cowbird makes no nest of her own, but instead lays her up to 3 dozen eggs in the nests of other bird species, who then raise the young cowbirds.

  • In winter, Brown-headed Cowbirds may join huge roosts with several blackbird species. One such mixed roost in Kentucky contained more than five million birds.

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  • The Cedar Waxwing is one of the few North American birds that specializes in eating fruit. It can survive on fruit alone for several months. Brown-headed Cowbirds that are raised in Cedar Waxwing nests typically don’t survive, in part because the cowbird chicks can’t develop on such a high-fruit diet.

  • Because they eat so much fruit, Cedar Waxwings occasionally become intoxicated or even die when they run across overripe berries that have started to ferment and produce alcohol.

  • In fall these birds gather by the hundreds to eat berries. In summer you’re as likely to find them flitting about over rivers in pursuit of flying insects.

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  • White-winged Doves often eat at elevated bird feeders. They’re fond of seeds, including sunflower, milo, corn, safflower, and they may also eat berries from shrubs.

  • White-winged Doves use a secretion from the esophagus, known as crop milk, to feed nestlings. Both parents may consume snails and bone fragments to help their bodies create the nutritious fluid.

  • Although the White-winged Dove is mostly resident in the Southwest, it is expanding its range, and individuals can be found far afield. White-winged Doves have been seen from Alaska to Ontario, Maine, Newfoundland, and most places in between.

Other Critters

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Eastern Grey Squirrel

  • Up to 20 eastern gray squirrels live in every acre of forest in the eastern half of the United States.

  • The eastern gray squirrel is a solitary animal, although it can coexist with other gray squirrels in a particular area.

  • A squirrel is estimated to hide thousands of food caches each season. While caching food for the winter, they will sometimes pretend to hide the food, going through the motions while holding the nuts or acorns in their mouth if they suspect another squirrel may be watching their activities. Gray squirrels will take the caches left by others if they find them.

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Raccoon (Rocket & Friends)

  • The most characteristic physical feature of the raccoon is the area of black fur around the eyes, which contrasts sharply with the surrounding white face coloring. This is reminiscent of a bandit's mask and has thus enhanced the animal's reputation for mischief. The dark mask may also reduce glare and enhance night vision.

  • Though usually nocturnal, the raccoon is sometimes active in daylight to take advantage of available food sources. While its diet in spring and early summer consists mostly of insects, worms, and other animals already available early in the year, it prefers fruits and nuts, such as acorns and walnuts, which emerge in late summer and autumn, and represent a rich calorie source for building up fat needed for winter.

  • Due to its adaptability, the raccoon has been able to use urban areas as a habitat. The first sightings were recorded in a suburb of Cincinnati in the 1920s.

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 Crazy Eyes

  • Crazy Eyes is a long haired black cat from the neighborhood and 100% why we can't have nice things.

  • This cat is the reason for the trellis looking thing that has become a squirrel jungle gym on the fence above Cam 2. 

  • Crazy Eyes decided they wanted a couple of snacks so we had to create a guard to slow down the feline ambushes and give our bird friends a sporting chance. 

Image by Kurt Anderson

Virginia Opossum

  • The Virginia opossum is the only species found in the United States and Canada. It is often simply referred to as an opossum, and in North America it is commonly referred to as a possum.

  • Opossums are usually solitary and nomadic, staying in one area as long as food and water are easily available. Some families will group together in ready-made burrows or even under houses. Though they will temporarily occupy abandoned burrows, they do not dig or put much effort into building their own. As nocturnal animals, they favor dark, secure areas. These areas may be below ground or above.

  • Opossums eat insects, rodents, birds, eggs, frogs, plants, fruits and grain. Some species may eat the skeletal remains of rodents and roadkill animals to fulfill their calcium requirements. When available, they will also eat dog food, cat food, and human food waste.

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Eastern Grey Squirrel

  • Up to 20 eastern gray squirrels live in every acre of forest in the eastern half of the United States.

  • The eastern gray squirrel is a solitary animal, although it can coexist with other gray squirrels in a particular area.

  • A squirrel is estimated to hide thousands of food caches each season. While caching food for the winter, they will sometimes pretend to hide the food, going through the motions while holding the nuts or acorns in their mouth if they suspect another squirrel may be watching their activities. Gray squirrels will take the caches left by others if they find them.

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 Crazy Eyes

  • Crazy Eyes is a long haired black cat from the neighborhood and 100% why we can't have nice things.

  • This cat is the reason for the trellis looking thing that has become a squirrel jungle gym on the fence above Cam 2. 

  • Crazy Eyes decided they wanted a couple of snacks so we had to create a guard to slow down the feline ambushes and give our bird friends a sporting chance. 

Seasonal Critters

Spring & Summer Visitors

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  • A flash of dark green and red, the Ruby-throated Hummingbird is eastern North America’s sole breeding hummingbird.

  • Feeders and flower gardens are great ways to attract these birds, and some people turn their yards into buzzing clouds of hummingbirds each summer, but enjoy them while they’re around; by early fall they’re bound for Central America.

  • The extremely short legs of the Ruby-throated Hummingbird prevent it from walking or hopping. The best it can do is shuffle along a perch. Nevertheless, it scratches its head and neck by raising its foot up and over its wing.

Winter Visitors

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  • Dark-eyed Juncos are neat, even flashy little birds that flit about forest floors of the western mountains and Canada.

  • Juncos are the "snowbirds" of the middle latitudes. They appear as winter sets in, and then retreat northward each spring.

  • The Dark-Eyed Junco is one of the most common birds in North America and can be found across the continent, from Alaska to Mexico, from California to New York.

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  • These forest sparrows breed mostly across Canada, but they’re familiar winter birds across most of eastern and southern North America and California.

  • The White-throated Sparrow comes in two color forms: white-crowned and tan-crowned. The ones we've seen in the backyard are white-crowned.

  • Although they look nothing alike and aren’t particularly closely related, the White-throated Sparrow and the Dark-eyed Junco occasionally mate and produce hybrids. 

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  • A bird true to its name, the Pine Warbler is common in many pine forests in the eastern U.S. and southern Canada and is rarely seen away from pines. East Texas is on the very western edge of their normal migration range. 

  • The Pine Warbler is the only warbler that eats large quantities of seeds, meaning Pine Warblers sometimes visit bird feeders, unlike almost all other warblers.

  • Pine Warblers can sometimes be found in the same habitats as Dark-Eyed Juncos and have very similar calls.

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