What a nice day

Today was good. Busy, but good.
After dropping the girls off at school, I flew out to RAPTOR to pick up birds for an 11:00 am program at a school about 2 miles from our house. Then, I drove home, found a dog who had left her yard, looked at her tag and delivered her back to her very grateful owners.
They had Democratic signs in their yard, and they rescue dogs. That puts them on my “Great” list. I came home for about 20 minutes, then left again to pick up the girls (the birds are still in the car at this point). We drove to RAPTOR, dropped off the birds and came home again. At 5:30 pm, the girls and I left again for Isabelle’s swimming class. And now they are both in bed and all is well with the world.

This note on the board greeted me in the classroom I presented in today. I got a little misty-eyed when I saw it. No one has ever done that for me before.

The girls LOVE to go to RAPTOR with me. They like the kestrel immensely. They know how to speak softly and move slowly around the birds. Lorelei kept saying, “Hi there, guy!”.

The girls had never seen the mouse colony in the basement, so I showed them today. They didn’t ask why the mice are there. Whew.

And finally, a bird that I have been missing for more than a year:

Look closely at this picture and you will see a tree sparrow right in front of the Buddha’s face. They are winter birds here in Ohio, but I didn’t see ONE last year. There are at least two coming to the feeders these days, and I am very happy to see them. Don’t you worry when a bird that is “supposed” to be there, isn’t?

ID tip for tree sparrows: From the back, they look just like house sparrows, but look at the head and you will see a dark orangy cap with two dark stripes. And you can differentiate tree sparrows from chipping sparrows by 1. their range, and 2. chipping sparrows are tiny, whereas the tree sparrow is the same size as a house sparrow.


16 Responses to “What a nice day”

  1. Mary Says:

    Susan, this was a wow post. You should be so proud to do what you do and deserve welcome notices! Bonus: your girls will never forget these days. And I love learning about your birds. Did I hear “swim practice”???? I lived it for 11 years with Gina. Believe me, great sport and worth hanging in there. Enjoy the night.

  2. Susan Gets Native Says:

    Thanks, Mary. It feels so good to do this for RAPTOR. I’m doing something REAL, and the girls are benefiting from that. Isabelle has told me that when she grows up, she wants to work at RAPTOR and help hurt birds. I love that kid.

  3. Anonymous Says:

    I have such a hard time telling the difference between the sparrows — I probably have many kinds in my yard (I certainly hear them sing many songs), but can’t differentiate. I’ll have to look for the dark orangy cap. Thanks!

    Wayne, PA

  4. NatureWoman Says:

    I love the sign on the whiteboard for you – that’s SOOOO cool. That’s great your daughters are so calm around the birds.
    Thanks for the sparrow help – all of those birds look the same to me – so it’s good to know the difference between two of them.

  5. -llm. Says:

    Congrats on the return of your tree sparrow. Hurray! And it sounds like you had a wonderful day — don’t you love that!

  6. Lynne Says:

    I got Bill Thompson’s book Identify Yourself to help me with sparrows and last spring. In one 24 hour period, I id’d song sparrow, fox sparrow, chipping sparrow, white-crowned, white-throated, and Harris’s sparrows! It was a big day for me as I’d always considered them all to be LBJ’s! Now I need a tree sparrow…

  7. Rondeau Ric Says:

    Sounds like you have a neat job. Educating kids about nature and handling raptors, how cool is that.
    You’re using the jargon now, that means you are hooked on birdng. it is sort of like Hooked on Phonics, but it never stops.
    BTW shouldn’t it be spelled Fonics

  8. LauraHinNJ Says:

    Tree sparrows are tough for me. Maybe I need that book.

  9. Jess Riley Says:

    “Hey there, guy!” Oh my goodness that’s sweet.

    That welcome is fantastic!

  10. Julie Zickefoose Says:

    Sweet pix of the kids with kestrels, and the redtail’s sooo beautiful. Is that your totem bird?
    Hate to be the turd in the punchbowl (or the Buddha fountain) but I believe that’s an immature white-crowned sparrow you’ve got. Imm WCSP’s look just like the adults but with cinnamon-brown crown stripes instead of black and white. The tree sparrow’s smaller (closer to chippy size) and has a solid rust cap and a stickpin dot in the middle of its breast. It’s a tad early for tree sparrows; they don’t usually come into southern Ohio until December or January. Whitecrowns, on the other hand, are abundant this year and their migration is starting to tail off. Still a mighty nice bird for a fountain decoration.
    Maybe I can get away with doing this as the illustrator of Identify Yourself! Hope so!

  11. Susan Gets Native Says:

    If you weren’t you, Julie…
    I have looked at a million photos for comparision and I am still leaning towards a tree sparrow. It is a totally crappy picture, but I have been watching them from all angles, and I consulted Birds of Ohio, but taking your comment into account, well, I just don’t know.
    Geoff has agreed for me to maybe get a new camera, so I will try to get a better shot. Its little head is so orange! Make no mistake, Julie dear. I respect your knowledge in this field. I want to be sure of the ID, though. Thanks for bringing it up. I like to be kept on my toes.

  12. KatDoc Says:


    I can’t tell from your photo which sparrow it is, but I have some tips for ID’ing the LBJ’s (Little Brown Jobs) myself. For the American Tree Sparrow, I look for the rusty cap (rusty cap in summer = Chipping; rusty cap in winter = American Tree), the clear (unstreaked) breast with a central spot (“stickpin”) and, for me the give-away is the bicolored bill. The American Tree Sparrow has a dark upper and yellow lower bill. The White-crowned Sparrow (and the first year birds, which I call “Brown-crowned”) has a pinkish bill and a clear breast with no spot.

    As far as size, both the White-crowned and the American Tree are big sparrows, larger than a Song Sparrow and much larger than a dinky Chipping Sparrow, with the White-crowned slightly larger than the Amer. Tree.

    Regarding time of the year, I have seen “Brown-crowned” Sparrows in my yard, but no Amer. Tree Sparrows yet this year.

    One behavioral trait I have noted only in White-crowned Sparrows (both ages) and not in any other sparrow is a tendency to stand up really straight and tall, like they are standing on their tip-toes, as they look around the yard.

    Hope this helps people who have trouble sorting out the sparrows. This is not such an uncommon problem – something like 200 people gathered at a recent Ohio Ornithological Society meeting to spend a day deciphering sparrows!

    ~Kathi, who was there and still has sparrow “issues”

  13. The Swami Says:

    I do not know if it is a problem with Swami’s computer or your photo. When double-clicking on the last photo it does not enlarge. However, after looking at it closely, Swami and Swamette agree that the bird in front of the Buddha is a loon.

    Surprised that Julie didn’t notice that.

    The photo of The Girls and the kestrel is great.

  14. Woman-shaped Hammer Says:

    If the good Swami would drag this photo out onto the desktop and enlarge it from there, he would see that the center of the crown is lighter than the sides (orangeish-buff central crown stripe of imm. white-crowned sparrow), and the top of the bill appears pale (it would be dark in tree sparrow). Before noticing that, though, I made the ID on GISS, of a large sparrow standing quite upright, with a small head, broad shoulders, and a long, heavy tail. Not a Spizella, in my mind. The entire cap would be dark rufous in a tree sparrow, not divided by a paler central stripe. You can ID these two on that character alone.
    So excited about your new camera! FAbbo redshoulder shots! I’m trying out Shila’s Panasonic and planning to take it on a long trip. I know there’s no going back, that’s for sure, so I’m gonna have to scratch up some serious bucks when we come back.
    Maybe your new camera will solve the sparrow ID mystery. Congratulations!

  15. Susan Gets Native Says:

    I will concede this, Julie, because you know what you are talking about. See if I ever try to ID a sparrow on my blog again!
    The kicker is that I haven’t seen the little buggers since that day, so they have probably moved on and I will never get a good shot of one.

  16. Julie Zickefoose Says:

    Mine must be on the same clock because all of a sudden it’s only white-throats, juncoes and song sparrows here. I miss them. Bill said he saw a tree sparrow up by the lake, so it can’t be long before the good winter stuff gets here.
    Arrgghh-we have to leave for 10 days and I’ve decided not to feed while we’re gone. Darn coon just took the third peanut feeder in as many weeks. RRRR! You’d think we’d have figured out how to keep our feeders by now.

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