Date: 3/15/17 4:59 pm From: DAVID KOCH <davilene...> Subject: Rusty blackbirds, long-eared owl, sparrows, Koch property, Northampton County
With 17 inches of heavy wet snow here, I took to throwing birdseed on the deck and front porch like I always do when it's hard to reach the feeders. Sparrows were constant all day -- too many juncos to count, three fox sparrows, multiples of song sparrows, white-crowned's, white-throated's, trees, and one field sparrow. The Gambel's white-crowned is still here, along with a different banded adult white-crowned which I believe is one that was banded here in October 2015. There's also a banded tan morph white-throated sparrow from the same bander (I'm assuming) and at one point they were next to each other on the deck. Mixed blackbird flocks were constantly here too and among them around noon were four very dark, almost adult rusty blackbirds. Seldom do I get to see rusty blackbirds 8 feet away, which made what could've been a hard ID much easier. On the posts along the deck steps I spread a soft suet mix and an adult female yellow-bellied sapsucker was at it off and on all day. Hairy, downy, and red-bellied woodpeckers and tufted titmice, chickadees (sp,) and a Carolina wren also constant at this suet. But the highlight of the day was a long-eared owl that showed up at 6:25 pm when it was still completely light out. I was sitting looking out at the deck, watching the late day sparrow numbers pile up, when suddenly they all took off and a bird I assumed was probably an accipiter landed in the crotch of a snag on which I have feeders. And frankly my mouth fell open when I looked up and realized it was a long-eared owl sitting out in the open. It sat there until 6:50, watching the sparrows return, when it suddenly flew toward the house and strafed the deck but caught nothing. But it didn't leave. Instead it sat in a crabapple tree near the house for a while and then returned to the snag, once again watching the deck. Then finally, at 7:15 as dark was falling, it flew to a mulberry tree, sat there for about 5 minutes, and then flew off down over the fields. I doubt I'll ever see anything like that again.
Arlene Koch Easton, PA Northampton County <davilene...>