Birds, Birds Everywhere

Whether passing through during annual migrations, or year round residents, our very special bird friends are part of what make our county so special. During the Great Backyard Bird Count conducted February of 2009, our own Birding team identified 45 different species here in Milam County.  Our recently completed 2011 GBBC yielded 57 species.  Eventually we hope to have all these documented here for your viewing enjoyment.

“Backyard Vacation”    by Wanda G, Black (Oregon)

I sit here and gaze at God’s blue sky
With white puffy clouds drifting by
And the vibrant green of grass and trees
And the flowers all bowing in the breeze.

Then I look out across the peaceful pond
At the woods and the pasture just beyond.
And closer in, flying into view
The finch, the cardinal, and the bluebird, too.

In the redwood swing, I lean back and then
Enjoy the melody of the wren.

The whir of the hummingbird darting by
The sight of the buzzard, floating high.
The robin defending its hidden nest
By chasing away the cowbird pest.

I sit out here and swing along
As I listen with joy to God’s nature song.

And as I listen to each trill and peep,
I close my eyes and fall asleep.

American CrowAmerican Common Crow
Corvinae Corvus brachyrhynchos

This black beauty is a permanent resident of the United States, and ranges from the Atlantic to the Pacific and from Canada to Mexico.  Learn more about this social, inquisitive and mischievous member of our bird kingdom.  As eloquently captured in poem by R. Moore from Australia!


They wait for me,
Wrapped in thick, jet-black coats
Of feathers
Their eyes, they look
Straight through me
See my darkest secrets
Know what I think.
But when I step outside,
They flee screaming
In their harsh piercing voices
Determined to hide from me
But they hold no secret
They don’t mean to scare
It’s not their fault
They’re the way they are.

Download the  American Common Crow PDF file

Barn swallowBarn Swallow
Hirundinidae Hirundo rustica

The friendly Barn Swallows are the most abundant and widely spread species of swallows in the world!  Our February through September visitors can make a mess of things on your porches and under your eaves, but they do their fair share of consuming insects.

“Barn Swallow” by James R. Musgrave

The swallow, darting like my heart, flies into the upper rafters of the hayloft.
She holds the new-mown whisps of hay,
swerving–a pendulum presence–as you capture the beating of my heart.
Up, into the dark, upper recesses of  this passionate, crimson bed,
the altar of my soul,
and your face, so inquisitive with youthful emotion, breath that comes in quick gasps,
touch of softness from the hay,
darting, free bird in your eyes,
we wonder at a flaming barn in sunset!

Download the Barn Swallow PDF file

white-eyed VireoWhite Eyed Vireo
Vireonidae Vireo griseus

This cute little secretive bird is most often seen in our summer months during breeding and nesting season.  Here are excerpts from:

“Origin of Spin” by Dru Philippou.

I turn in awe towards the sun rising over the mountain on this summer’s day. I turn to the mystery of motion: the white-eyed vireo circling back and forth, building its nest close to the ground by a bent of bluebells along a seasonal stream.
The white-eyed vireo, off through the trees, marking the air into shapes, close to its nest.
The vireo flies a little east and west, sometimes north and south, keeping a watchful eye on the brown-headed cowbird about to steal its nest.
Although the vireo sings vociferously, with many hints as to its location, it is hard to find: its “chick-a-per-wee-oo-chick” carries far from where it can be placed.

Download White eyed Vireo PDF

Black and White WarblerBlack and White Warbler
Parulidae Mniotilta varia

This member of the Wood Warbler family can be seen using its unusually long and hidden claws to climb up and down tree trunks, probing for its favorite insects. Its nests are also favorite targets for Brown Headed Cow birds.

“Evening” by Hilda Conkling, age 7

Now it is dusky,
And the hermit thrush and the black and white warbler
Are singing and answering together.
There is sweetness in the tree,
And fireflies are counting the leaves.
I like this country,
I like the way it has,
But I cannot forget my dream I had of the sea,
The gulls swinging and calling,
And the foamy towers of the waves.

Download the Black and White Warbler PDF file

Cedar WaxwingCedar Waxwing
Bombycillidae Bombycilla cedrorum

Our frequent winter visitor travels in flocks, dining mostly on berries including getting intoxicated on fermented ones!

“Cedar Waxwings” by Theresa Ann White

Their plush bodies full of yellow flush, scarlet points, the hush of their wings, the grand applause as they rise as one grey-yellow tumult of  wings, black in the eye of morning, lifting like the voice of air,  ascending among the mob of leaves, the cackle of dry leaf, the sponge of moss, they rise as one, descend with narrow heads and silence, each in its spot, its catch of brittle wood and then the flood of grey-yellow underbelly nestled in the cold finger of January grass, swamped in their quick habitat, head pokes, chirps of pleasure, the miles of migratory hunger quenched; this colony puffing and falling among the Florida palm with its striated muscle of yellow fronds, its purple pellets scattered and hidden.

Yes, this is why my eyes open, why my two feet hold a space, why nothing in my mouth moves.

Download the Cedar Waxwing PDF file

Barred Owl
Strix varia

A Barred Owl By Richard Wilbur

The warping night air having brought the boom
Of an owl’s voice into her darkened room,
We tell the wakened child that all she heard
Was an odd question from a forest bird,
Asking of us, if rightly listened to,
“Who cooks for you?” and then “Who cooks for you?”
Words, which can make our terrors bravely clear,
Can also thus domesticate a fear,
And send a small child back to sleep at night
Not listening for the sound of stealthy flight
Or dreaming of some small thing in a claw
Borne up to some dark branch and eaten raw.

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