How many times do you really look around at the wildlife in your neighborhood? Probably with few exceptions, we are all fortunate to have a world of living things surrounding us. We may live in an area that is surrounded by woods and fields, or we might live in an apartment building in a location that does not seem to have an abundance of life. However, you might be surprised as to what nature's creatures you can observe from a multi-story apartment house.
I have, on occasion, been invited to help identify birds at feeders in second- and third-story apartments over the years. As expected, you might be surprised at the feeder visitors we were able to see several stories above ground.
Recently I had the opportunity to meet with one of my neighbors, Nancy Gee, who lives across the street. Nancy is an accomplished photographer and, as I was just starting to back out of my driveway, she suddenly appeared alongside the car with a packet of photographs of local birds she had taken in the area. Consequently, this article will feature two photos submitted by Nancy: a Black-capped Chickadee feeding on an interesting peanut feeder and a Red-bellied Woodpecker at a second feeder. Also included is a photograph taken by me of an unusual sighting of a Franklins Gull in the Dunkirk Harbor on Sunday, July 20.
Photo by Nancy Gee
A Red-bellied Woodpecker.
The Black-capped Chickadee is a bird probably familiar to most readers in this area. Whether you have a feeder near your home or you have been hunting in the woods, without a doubt you have been visited by the chickadee. I have long considered this little guy as one of the bravest little birds I know. Known for its friendliness, it is one of those creatures that loves to associate with humans. I have observed chickadees on my hand, on another person's hat, on a shoulder of a child and, yes, even on the barrel of a shotgun that a hunter was aiming. The late Frank Chapman said of the Chickadee: "What a blessing it would be if every one of God's creatures spoke its name as plainly as this animated bunch of black and white feathers."
The Black-capped is one of two members of this family that have been sighted in our county, along with a rare visitor from Canada known as the Boreal Chickadee. It has made a few visits to our area over the years during the mid-winter months.
The second picture Nancy gave me is of a Red-bellied Woodpecker feeding at a hanging feeder. The Red-bellied is one of nine woodpeckers sighted in Western New York and one of seven reported from our county. Records from the Buffalo Ornithological Society database include three rare records of a Three-toed-woodpecker and 13 sightings of Black-backed Woodpeckers, but none since 1976. Both the Three-toed and the Black-backed are the two that have not been reported from our area.
The last bird to discuss is the Franklins Gull. According to records maintained by the Buffalo Ornithological Society, this bird is decreasing in number, particularly in the area of the Niagara River, which is known worldwide for its winter gull sightings. There have been a few late fall and winter reports of this gull in our county. The sighting that occurred on July 20 can be considered very unusual, as well as the photo I took on that date. I could not help but quote Chapman on this bird, due to its rare occurrence. Chapman stated, "The Franklins Gull is one of the most interesting, as it is unexpected, forms of bird life of our interior."
As is standard, please send photos, with the name of the plant or animal as well as your name written on the back, and article requests to me at 38 Elm St., Fredonia, NY 14063, or by e-mail to firstname.lastname@example.org.