The Lake Hills City Birds

Pine Warblers

Pine Warblers are colorful little birds. I almost confused them with the Tennessee Warbler. Pine Warblers are larger than Tennessee Warblers. These cute birds live high up in the pine trees. We have 3 very old and tall pine trees in our backyard that they enjoy.

This bird’s length is 5.1 – 5.5 inches, weight is 0.3 oz – 0.5oz, and wingspan is 7.5 – 9.1 inches. They have white bellies, two white wing bars, dark legs, and thin, relatively long bills. Adult males have olive upperparts and bright yellow throats and breasts. Females are olive-brown and throats and breasts are a paler yellow. The young birds are yellowish to gray but very pale.

Insects make up most of their diet, but these are the only warblers that eat large quantities of seeds. They enjoy seeds of pines. They can also be seen at feeders eating seeds and suet cakes. In my YouTube video this bird is seen enjoying suet cakes.

Most warblers leave the United States for winter. The Pine Warbler does not. It stays in the Southeast and is one of the first to return north in the spring. That explains why I usually only see these beautiful little birds in the winter.

I’m happy they decided to take up residence in my pine trees.

The Lake Hills City Birds, Uncategorized

Tufted Titmouse

This little songbird is in my backyard year-round. It is the size of a sparrow or a little smaller.  Their Length is 5.5 – 6.3 in, weight is 0.6 – 0.9 oz, and wingspan: 7.9 – 10.2 inches. It is a beautiful little bird that is sort of a silvery gray color on top. It has white feathers underneath with a rust-colored patch under its wings. There is also a black patch above the beak and on the edges of the feathers.

When they fly, they remind me of a cartoon character. They seem to flutter about from place to place. They love peanuts. Anytime I put peanuts in the feeders they are the first to show up. They get one peanut at a time and quickly fly back to the nest. I jokingly called them hoarders. An article I read about them confirmed that they are indeed hoarders. They hoard food in the fall and winter. Their storage sites are usually within 130 feet of the feeder. In the summer they eat mainly insects. I’ve seen them eating plenty of seeds and peanuts in the fall and winter.

Another interesting fact about Tufted Titmice is they do not gather into larger flocks outside of the breeding season. The pair will remain on the territory. Oftentimes, one of their young from that year remains with them. I always see two or three here in my backyard over the winter. In the spring I see a lot more.

I have dog hair hanging in the backyard for the birds to use in their nests. I’ve seen this bird get plenty of hair for its nest. They nest in tree holes and nest boxes. They use holes that the woodpeckers made as nests. I have several large dead limbs that I’ve seen them going to. I’m assuming that’s where their nests are located. I don’t trim back dead tree limbs unless they are near the house. Otherwise, I leave them for the birds. These little birds are so much fun to watch in my backyard. I hope you get the pleasure of having some visit your yard as well.

The Lake Hills City Birds

Ruby-crowned Kinglet

The Lake Hills City Birds

Ruby-crowned Kinglet

These little birds are difficult to get a photo of because they are so quick. They are constantly flicking their wings. I was not sure what type of bird is was when it first showed up in my backyard. From afar I thought it was a Pine Warbler because of the size. When I finally got one on video, I was able to identify it as a Ruby-crowned Kinglet.

Both male and female measure between 3.5 – 4.3 in. They weigh between 0.2 – 0.3oz. They have a wingspan of 6.3 – 7.1 in. They are olive green birds. They have a white eye ring. They have a white wing bar and blackish bar in the wing.

The first time I saw a male, I thought it hurt its head. It looked like a blood stain on the top of his head. I did not realize that was the ruby patch that can be seen on males. I’ve read that the patch usually stays hidden unless he is excited. I believe these birds are nesting in my very old pine trees in the backyard. I see them flying to and from the tops of those trees a lot.

For food, they like insects. I see them foraging through the leaves on the ground, through my garden, and in the trees for insects. They also eat seeds and fruits. I have seen them on my feeders a lot this week. I’m happy they’ve made my backyard home.

The Lake Hills City Birds

Tennessee Sandhill Cranes

Between mid-October and February sandhill cranes migrate to Tennessee for the winter. According to the Tennessee Wildlife Resource Agency, “Tennessee has wintered an average of over 29,000 cranes over the last five years. There are an estimated minimum 89,000 Sandhill Cranes in the eastern population that passes through and winters in Tennessee. There are two primary areas in Tennessee for migrating cranes.” The Hiwassee Wildlife Refuge in Birchwood, TN and the Hop-in Refuge in Western Tennessee. Both of these locations have thousands of cranes that can be seen. The cranes have been known to stop off in fields and backyards of Tennessee residents as they travel to their wintering location.

These birds are magnificent. They are between 4 – 5 feet tall, have a wingspan of 5 – 6 feet and weigh between 10- 14 lbs. My grandma Tommie loved these huge birds. We would visit the Hiwassee Wildlife Refuge yearly when she was alive. We usually visited in November and early December though. This was my first time visiting in late December. This was also my first time visiting since she passed away last year.

The birds put on quite a show for me. There were thousands of birds here. I wouldn’t be surprised if there were more than 29,000. I have never seen this many at one time. They were very loud. I probably should have worn ear plugs it was that loud. It was an amazing site to see.

January 14- 15th will be the 32nd annual Sandhill Crane Festival. For details about the festival, you can visit this site .

I will not be going to the festival. There are too many illnesses going around and I have some immune system issues. I do not need to be around large crowds. When we visited the Hiwassee Wildlife Refuge I was the only person out there. I am probably the only one crazy enough to stand out there in 17 degree temperatures to get photos of birds.

If you live in the area and have never checked it out, I strongly suggest you do. I’ve been several times in November and have seen a few hundred cranes. I do think late December and January is the time to visit if you want to see thousands of cranes. There are also a lot of other birds to photo there too. I will be posting a video on Monday, January 2nd for all to see. I will link it here at that time.