Beautiful Birds of Winter
As the landscape evolves from verdant to gray, summer birds quietly leave and winter birds (not so quietly in the case of Robins and Cedar Waxwings) take their place. We welcome them back with full feeders and delight. In the past two weeks, an American Kestrel, a Song Sparrow, and a Green Kingfisher have made themselves at home at Little Piney.
On December 30, I went for a long drive along country roads and through Bastrop State Park birding and exploring–something I had been wanting to do all year. I hoped to see a Red-headed Woodpecker–rare in Bastrop but seen at times in the park. That bird didn’t appear, but I was happy to see a number of American Kestrels, beautiful little falcons common here in the winter. I wondered why I never see Kestrels at Little Piney and wished for one here. Oddly enough, an American Kestrel appeared the next day, perched on the wire that carries electricity to our neighbor’s house.
Even better, he has decided to stay awhile, giving me many “bird on a wire” photo opportunities. The American Kestrel is a stunning bird, gray blue on head and wings, russet on back and breast, with bold black spots on his sides and dramatic black lines on his white face. He perches high up on the wire watching for prey in the field below, sometimes swaying in the wind and bobbing his tail. He is tolerant of me, and doesn’t mind me moving closer for a photo.
Song Sparrows, another winter resident in Bastrop, are back as well. I can hear their squeaky chips in the reedy bank of the lake, but don’t often see them. This sparrow was patient with me, lingering against a perfect background of dry grass and reeds.
The most unusual birds here at Little Piney are Green Kingfishers. The male made a welcome appearance on New Year’s Day for the Christmas Bird Count team, and the female appeared the day after. Green Kingfishers are more common to South Texas than our area, so I am delighted to have them here for the second winter. I know a little Kingfisher is present when I hear the fast clicking call. Tiny and speckled, the green bird can be difficult to spot. I love to see them fly just a foot above the creek. following the curve, mirrored in the water.