A Barred Owl at the Oregon Zoo perches in the bough of a tree in his enclosure. Normally, this exhibit is in near total darkness and since you aren't allowed to use flash (a rule I respect, but too many other's don't) he is very hard to photograph. This day however, they must have been simulating daylight for him as the lights were on bright enough to get this great portrait shot of both his face and the distinctive patterns of his back from which he gets his name.
The Red-bellied Woodpecker competes vigorously for nest holes with other woodpeckers, in one case even dragging a Red-cockaded Woodpecker from a nest cavity and killing it. But it is often evicted from nest holes by the European Starling. In some areas, half of all Red-bellied Woodpecker nesting cavities are taken over by starlings.
Stores food in cracks and crevices of trees and fence posts. The woodpecker does not appear to defend its caches from other birds or mammals.
The male Red-bellied Woodpecker has a longer bill and a longer, wider tongue tip than the female. These adaptations may allow the male to reach deeper into furrows to extract prey and may allow the sexes to divide up the resources in one area.
Where the two species ranges come in contact, the Carolina and Black-capped chickadees occasionally hybridize. Hybrids can sing the songs of either species, or might sing something intermediate.
In winter, Carolina Chickadees live in flocks of two to eight birds and defend areas against other flocks. Dominant birds in these flocks establish breeding territories in the summer that were part of the winter flock's range.
The pair bond between a male and female Carolina Chickadee can remain intact for several years. The probability that a pair will remain together seems to vary among populations, with nearly all pairs remaining together in subsequent years in a study in Texas, but only half staying together in a study in Tennessee. If a nest attempt fails, a female may seek out a new male on a different territory.
The White-breasted Nuthatch is normally territorial throughout the year, with pairs staying together. The male has to spend more time looking out for predators when hes alone than while hes with his mate. Thats the pattern for most birds, and one reason why birds spend so much time in flocks. But the female nuthatch has to put up with the male pushing her aside from foraging sites, so she spends more time looking around (for him) when hes around than when she is alone.
In winter, White-breasted Nuthatches join foraging flocks led by chickadees or titmice, perhaps partly because it makes food easier to find and partly because more birds can keep an eye out for predators. One study found that when titmice were removed from a flock, nuthatches were more wary and less willing to visit exposed bird feeders.
If you see a White-breasted Nuthatch making lots of quick trips to and from your feeder too many for it to be eating them all it may be storing the seeds for later in the winter, by wedging them into furrows in the bark of nearby trees.
The oldest known White-breasted Nuthatch was 9 years 10 months old.
Although most of our American Robins in this area are year round residents, some of them still migrate. The migratory birds are just beginning to filter back in and join the wintering flocks. Probably one of the most interesting behavioral aspects of this species is that they have been observed wading in water up to their breasts to catch small fish. I was on my stomach shooting a flock of American Robins feeding on the ground, when this one came in for a much closer look. It was hard to keep steady because I was trying not to laugh.