Hello again for the month, although hopefully the next time I check in will be sooner than the last, because I am going to attend a Christmas Bird Count in a couple of weeks. Here are some recent things!
On December 1 it rained all day long and was generally cold and miserable. This was perfect weather to drive a lot of birds to the feeder, where I had a welcome newcomer in the form of a Pine Siskin. This was only my third time seeing this species in Allen County, and it was a great addition to the yard list. It also was a new green bird, meaning that 2018 will thankfully not be my lowest count year. I now sit exactly one species above 2015 when I first started doing this.
On the same day as the siskin, my most recent yard mammal also showed up. A big chonking Woodchuck intermittently hides in the pile of pallets that my neighbors are keeping in their back yard. For whatever reason, the kids were way more entertained by this guy than by the Pine Siskin.
Some smaller rodents have recently been getting more daring. Nothing has touched my owl box that I have had up for over a year, but recently the Fox Squirrels have taken a liking to it.
This fellow has taken to enlarging the entrance hole. I don’t know if he is actively trying to make it less suitable for owls or just gnawing for his teeth’s sake.
The weather has been extremely cold, but we haven’t had any snow at all. That means we all go stir crazy on the weekends because it’s too much effort and not enough reward to get out of the house. So last weekend I decided to take the kids birding at my local patch: the Purdue west campus. The kids lasted 45 minutes in 20 degrees, which was honestly pretty great! I didn’t get photos of anything, and we saw single-digit species, but we did get to see a flock of about 100 Sandhill Cranes flying overhead as we were leaving. Campus is less than a mile from home, and the cranes were flying directly toward out neighborhood. Unfortunately I did not race them home fast enough to get them as yard birds. But they were new for my eBird hotspot (of which I am so far the only person to submit anything). Hopefully next year I can break 100 species to turn the pin green. I did that with my old patch, Foster Park, and got lots more people to bird there. But so far nobody else has bitten on good ol’ PFW.