January 11, 2022

Birding Highlights of the Past Year


This past year was full of birding surprises and pleasant visits from regulars, such as the cold-weather dark-eyed juncos, and the always-present cardinals and black-capped chickadees. The regulars are no less appreciated than the rare sightings and the warm-weather winged friends, and we encourage their presence and survival.

But it was fun to experience some unusual birding encounters in 2021.


In mid-spring, we witnessed the first venturings of some great-horned owlets at the nearby state park. I zoomed in on this one from a distance, to show how well they were camouflaged with their surroundings.

tree swallow

This tree swallow and its mate were preparing a nest in one the state park's nesting boxes. Tree swallows aren't uncommon to this part of the country, but we don't see them on our shaded home property.


Also at the state park, I was happy to see this handsome bluebird, another species we don't see at home because of too much shade.

carolina wren

However, back at home we were thrilled to have a Carolina wren (or a family?) living with us for a large portion of the summer. We're beyond the normal range for their limited migration, but perhaps with climate change they're more likely to visit in future summers? I heard the songs of this shy bird frequently, but only saw it a few times.

oriole & woodpecker

While red-bellied woodpeckers are common visitors in our garden, Baltimore orioles only stop by for a short stretch in late spring. We see them nearly every year in May, and the oranges help attract them for a closer view.

hummer 1

I admit the birds I miss the most during the colder seasons are the ruby-throated hummingbirds. They are very common residents, with numerous daily sightings from May through mid-October. Their arrival in spring is joyful, and I'm sad when I don't see them for a couple of days in the fall because I know their season here is ending.

hummer 3

hummer 2

I'm looking forward to your return in a few months, little buddies.